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Category: Bible Essentials

Regeneration and the New Birth

Regeneration and the New Birth

In Jn 3:1-8, Jesus discusses one of the foundational doctrines (i.e., teachings, foundational principles, basis of belief) of the Christian faith: regeneration (Tit 3:5), or spiritual birth. Without being “born again” in a spiritual sense, a person cannot become part of God’s kingdom. This means that a person’s life must be spiritually renewed in order to be spiritually saved and to receive God’s gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The following are important facts about spiritual birth and renewal.

  1. Regeneration, or spiritual birth, is an inward re-creating of a person spiritually–a life transformation (total change or remaking of the person’s attitude, thinking, and actions) that occurs from the inside out (Ro 12:2; Eph 4:23-24). It is a work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:6; Tit 3:5; and through this work of transformation, God passes on his gift of eternal life. It marks the beginning of a new and personal relationship with God for those who yield their lives to Christ (Jn 3:16; 2Pe 1:4; 1Jn 5:11). Spiritual birth is the way a person becomes a child of God (Jn 1:12; Ro 8:16-17; Gal 3:26) and a “new creation” (2Co 5:17; Col 3:9-10). A person who is born again spiritually will no longer conform or live according to the character and influence of the ungodly beliefs, behaviors, and lifestyles of the world (Ro 12:2). Instead, he or she is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24;

  2. Spiritual birth is necessary because all people, apart from Christ, are sinful by nature (i.e., separated from and in opposition to God) from birth. On our own, we are not capable of having a close personal relationship with God. Without the life-transforming power of his Holy Spirit, we could not continue to obey and please God (Ps 51:5; Jer 17:9; Ro 8:7-8; 1Co 2:14; Eph 2:3.

  1. Spiritual birth happens to those who repent of sin (i.e., admit their sin and turn from their own way), turn to God (Mt 3:2) and yield control of their lives to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord–the Forgiver of their sins and Leader of their lives (see Jn 1:12, note). The beginning of this experience of spiritual salvation involves “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). Though spiritual birth is an immediate experience that takes place as soon as a person truly repents and accepts God’s forgiveness, God continually renews and transforms a Christian’s mind (Ro 12:2) and inner being (Eph 4:23). This spiritual renewal is an ongoing, “day-by-day” process (2Co 4:16;)

  1. Spiritual birth involves a transition, or complete change, from an old life of sin (i.e., going our own way, which is a path of rebellion against God) to a new life of obedience to Jesus Christ (2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 4:23-24; Col 3:10). This means that there should be noticeable changes in a Christian’s attitude and lifestyle (see 1Pe 4:1-2). Those who are truly born again are set free from slavery to sin so they can fulfill God’s purpose for their lives (see Jn 8:36, note; Ro 6:14-23). They receive a renewed attitude and desire to obey God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:13-14). By depending on him, they do what is right by God’s standards (1Jn 2:29), they love others in words and actions (1Jn 4:7), they avoid things that defy and displease God (1Jn 3:9; 5:18) and they do not set their affections on temporary, worldly things (1Jn 2:15-16).

  2. Those who are born again spiritually cannot continue to sin (i.e., go their own way, ignore, or defy God’s commands and standards; see 1Jn 3:9, note). They cannot remain in a right personal relationship with God unless they earnestly pursue God’s purposes and carefully avoid evil (1Jn 1:5-7). This is possible only by relying on God’s grace (i.e., his undeserved favor, mercy, and empowerment; see 1Jn 2:3-11, 15-17, 24-29; 3:6-24; 4:7-8, 20; 5:1), by maintaining a strong and growing relationship with Christ (see Jn 15:4, note) and by depending on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:2-14). For further comments on the character traits that should be evident in a spiritually born-again person.

 NATURE AND THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.

  1. It does not matter how spiritual a person may talk, seem or claim to be, if he or she lives by principles that are immoral and follows the ways of the world, the person’s conduct shows that there is no spiritual life within and that he or she is instead living like a child of the devil (1Jn 3:6-10).

  2. Just as a person can be “born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8) by trusting God and receiving his gifts of forgiveness and eternal life, he or she can also forfeit, or lose, that life by making foolish, selfish and ungodly choices and by refusing to trust God. As a result, he or she will miss out on the life God offers and will die spiritually. God’s Word warns, “if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die” (Ro 8:13). Even as believers, if we continue the path of sin and refuse to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance (which he gives mainly through God’s Word and our conscience), we can put out the light of God’s life in our soul and lose our place in God’s kingdom (cf. Mt 12:31-32; 1Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Heb 6:4-6; 1Jn 5:16.

  3. The new birth that comes only through God’s Spirit cannot be compared equally with physical birth because God’s relationship with his followers is a spiritual matter rather than an act of the flesh or human effort (Jn 3:6). This also means that while the physical tie of a father and child can never be completely reversed or lost, the Father/child relationship that God desires with us is voluntary; and we can choose to walk away or deny it during our time on earth (see Ro 8:13, note). Our relationship with God and eternal life with him are conditional and depend on our ongoing faith in Christ that is shown by lives of obedience and genuine love for him (Ro 8:12-14; 2Ti 2:12).

     In summary, spiritual birth, or regeneration, brings: spiritual cleansing (Jn 3:5; Tit 3:5); the indwelling of God’s Spirit (Ro 8:9; 2Co 1:22); transformation into a “new creation” in Christ (2Co 5:17); adoption as God’s spiritual child (Jn 1:12-13; Ro 8:16; Gal 3:26; 4:4-6); the Holy Spirit’s guidance and understanding of spiritual things (Jn 16:13-15; 1Co 2:9-16; 1Jn 2:27); the ability to live right by God’s standards and to develop his character traits (Gal 5:16-23; 1Jn 2:29; 5:1-2); victory over sin (1Jn 3:9; 5:4, 18); and an eternal inheritance with Christ (Ro 8:17; Gal 4:7; 1Pe 1:3-4).

 

Excerpted from the Life in the Spirit Study Bible c. 2008 by Life Publishers International in association with Zondervan

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

The Gospel

 

God created the world and made us to be in loving relationship with him. Though created good, human nature became fatally flawed, and we are now all out of step with God. In Bible language, we are sinners, guilty before God and separated from him.

The good news of the Gospel is that God took loving action in Jesus Christ to save us from this dire situation. The key facts of this divine remedy are these: God the Father sent his eternal Son into this world to reconcile us to himself, to free us to love and serve him, and to prepare us to share his glory in the life to come. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead to restore us to God. Given authority by his Father, Jesus now rules in heaven as King over all things, advancing God’s kingdom throughout the world. In the fullness of time, Jesus will return to establish his kingdom in its glory on earth, and all things will be renewed.

Reigning in heaven over all things, Jesus Christ continues to draw sinners to himself. He enables us by his Holy Spirit to turn wholeheartedly from our sinful and self-centered ways (repentance), and to entrust ourselves to him to live in union and communion with him (faith). In spiritual terms, sin is the way of death, and fellowship with Christ is the way of life.

Turning to Christ

Turning to Christ brings us into fellowship with God. Baptism, which is the rite of entry into the Church’s fellowship, marks the beginning of this new life in Christ. The apostle Peter, proclaiming the Gospel, said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Through faith, repentance, and Baptism we are spiritually united to Jesus and become children of God the Father. Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” ( John 14:6). As we come to the Father through Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts to know him, and we are born again spiritu- ally to new life. To continue to live faithfully as Christians, we must rely upon the power and gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to God’s people.

When the disciple Thomas encountered the risen Jesus, he acknowledged him by saying, “My Lord and my God!” ( John 20:28). To be a Christian you must, like Thomas, wholeheartedly submit to the living Christ as your Lord and God. Knowing the Lord Jesus means personally believing in him, surrendering your life to him through repentance and Baptism, and living as one of his joyful followers.

A clear way to make this commitment of faith and repentance is to offer to God a prayer in which you

  • confess your sins to God, being as specific as possible, and repent by turning from them;
  • thank God for his mercy and forgiveness given to you in Jesus Christ;
  • promise to follow and obey Jesus as your Lord;
  • ask the Holy Spirit to help you be faithful to Jesus as yo grow into spiritual maturity.
    One example of such a prayer is the following:Almighty Father, I confess that I have sinned against you in my thoughts, words, and actions (especially __________). I am truly sorry and humbly repent. Thank you for forgiving my sins through the death of your Son, Jesus. I turn to you and give you my life. Fill and strengthen me with your Holy Spirit to love you, to follow Jesus as my Lord in the fellowship of his Church, and to become more like him each day. Amen. 
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Excerpted from “To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism”
Copyright © 2020 by The Anglican Church in North America
Published by Crossway
A Look at the Ordo Salutis (Guest Post)

A Look at the Ordo Salutis (Guest Post)

Our favorite visiting professor, James Quiggle, has once again brought us a very thought-provoking and interesting lesson. Below he takes us on a look at the ordo salutis…

The phrase “Ordo Salutis” is Latin for “order of salvation.” The Ordo Salutis is a theological construct attempting to place the works of God in salvation into a rational sequence of events.

The Ordo Salutis as generally accepted has two variations.

Election — Calling — Regeneration — Salvation — Justification — Adoption — Sanctification — Perseverance — Glorification.

Election — Calling – Salvation — Regeneration — Justification — Adoption — Sanctification — Perseverance — Glorification.

The difference in the variation is just this: does regeneration precede salvation, or does salvation precede regeneration.

Salvation is the result of the exercise of faith. Regeneration is typically viewed as the changes in human nature caused by the Holy Spirit as a result of salvation. The regeneration of human nature might be defined as the attributes of human nature, which were jumbled and wrongly prioritized by the sin attribute, are normalized, which is to say, godliness is restored to human nature through the godly attributes of holiness, righteousness, love, mercy, etc. The believer is given new wants and new desires. His/her human nature is re-prioritized toward God.

The difference in the two Ordo Salutis above is an effort to answer the question, “What is the origin of saving faith?” Now, without question, the ultimate origin of saving faith is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8. But some believe saving faith is the result of regeneration, while others believe regeneration is the result of saving faith.

Let me set aside the finer details (the ongoing debate) of those two points of view, and say there is some truth in each. There is an undeniable, and unalterable, and therefore inevitable principle that both views acknowledge, but neither view specifically answers. That principle is expressed in several locations in the New Testament, but stated clearly at 1 Corinthians 2:14. The principle is: the unsaved person cannot understand spiritual things.

That being the case, how does the unsaved person come to a necessary understanding of sin, the Savior, and salvation? The gospel in its simplest form is, “I am a sinner, the risen Jesus Christ is my Savior”: my sin, Jesus the Savior, my salvation from sin. But those spiritual concepts are “foolishness” to the unsaved person. He/she is incapable of understanding. Yes, the Holy Spirit brings conviction of those three necessary concepts, but he does not work in a spiritual vacuum. The sinner is unable to understand. The thing needed is the ability to perceive spiritual things.

In the here and now of the mortal unsaved life, the penalty of unforgiven sin is separation from the spiritual life of God, which is to say, spiritually “dead.” Spiritually dead means the ability to perceive spiritual things is in the unsaved person grossly dulled, “dead” in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1. Of course, the unsaved soul is not spiritually unresponsive; that is not what spiritually dead means. To be spiritually dead is 1) to lack the ability to understand spiritual things, and therefore 2) unremitting rejection of spiritual things as foolishness. In the context of salvation, the unsaved person is unable to discern the things the Holy Spirit teaches as necessary to believe for salvation.

How may that understanding be gained? Through the ability to perceive (understand) spiritual things. I believe spiritual perception is a faculty of human nature, an ability designed into the human soul by God. Sin renders that faculty grossly dulled, unable to comprehend spiritual things; hence 1 Corinthians 2:14. In the unsaved sinner the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception is “dead.”

What, then, must take place so the sinner is able to understand? My answer is the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception must be made alive for there to be understanding of spiritual things. How is this done? We return to the Ordo Sautis.

I think the regeneration that precedes salvation is partial (not a particularly good word, but the best I can do). I believe the gift of God (Eph 2:8) enlivens the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception so the spiritual issues of sin, the Savior, and salvation may be understood, and saving faith exercised. Then after the exercise of saving faith, the entire human nature is regenerated.

With that understanding, I see the Ordo Salutis as:

— Election

— Calling (through the Gift of God which enlivens the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception)

— Salvation

— Positional Justification

— Positional Sanctification

— Regeneration (of the entire human nature)

— Adoption (as son and heir)

— Perseverance (Experiential Sanctification)

— Glorification.

I have put the elements of the Ordo Salutis in what I believe to be a more reasonable order. Regardless of the order of salvation, the believer is saved to be a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Ezekiel Essentials

Ezekiel Essentials

Theme: God is sovereign over all creation, including the course of history. He is absolutely free either to judge or to be gracious and merciful. 

Author: The book identifies its author as Ezekiel, a priest exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC, before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Date of Writing: Ezekiel probably wrote this book over the course of his ministry, between 593 and 571 BC.

Encouragement From Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel36:26).

Challenge From Ezekiel: “Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31–32).

 

Storyline

Ezekiel connects beautifully with the New Testament doctrines of salvation and rebirth in Jesus. For one day, God would “sprinkle clean water” on His people making them “clean from all [their] impurities and from all [their] idols.” He would give them “a new heart”—not a “heart of stone,” but a “heart of flesh.” Then, empowered by the Spirit of the Lord, the people would obey all that God had commanded (Ezekiel 36:22–38). This change would be nothing short of a new creation, or recreation, of God’s people, as if from dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1–14). And as redeemed people, they themselves would become “temples of the Holy Spirit,” as Paul expressed it in 1 Corinthians 6:19.

 

Key Verses: Ezekiel 36:24–26 and 36:33–35—“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (36:24–26).

 

“Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited” ’ ” (36:33–35).

 

Key People in Ezekiel

Ezekiel —prophet to the people of Israel in Babylonian captivity (1:1– 48:35)

Israel’s leaders —led the people of Israel into idolatry (7:26–8:12; 9:5–6; 11; 14:1–3; 20:1–3; 22:23–29)

Ezekiel’s wife —unnamed woman whose death symbolized the future destruction of Israel’s beloved temple (24:15–27)

Nebuchadnezzar —king of Babylon used by God to conquer Tyre, Egypt, and Judah (26:7–14; 29:17–30:10)

 

Key Doctrines in Ezekiel

The work of angels —who carry out God’s program behind the scenes in many ways by demonstrating God’s glory (1:5–25; 10:1–22), destroying evil (Genesis 19:12–13), and worshiping God (Deuteronomy 32:43; Isaiah 6:2–4; Revelation 4:6–8)

The sinfulness of Israel (2:3–7; 5:6; 8:9,10; 9:9; 1 Samuel 8:7,8; 2 Kings 21:16; Psalms 10:11; 94:7; Isaiah 6:9; 29:15; Jeremiah 3:25; Micah 3:1–3; 7:3; John 3:20,21; Acts 13:24; Revelation 2:14)

God’s Character in Ezekiel

God is glorious —1:28; 3:12,23; 9:3; 10:4,18–19; 11:23; 43:4,5; 44:4

God is holy —1:26–28; 8–11; 43:1–7

God is just —18:25,29; 33:17,20

God is long-suffering —20:17

God is provident —28:2–10

God is wrathful —7:19

Christ in Ezekiel

Ezekiel contains several passages illustrating Israel’s triumph through the work of the Messiah. Christ is pictured as “one of the highest branches of the high cedar” (17:22–24). This messianic prophecy demonstrates Christ’s royal lineage connected to David. The branch, used consistently in Scripture to depict the Messiah, shows Christ as a “young twig, a tender one” who will be planted on the mountain of Israel (34:23,24; 37:24,25; Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12). On this height, Ezekiel pictures Christ as growing into a “majestic cedar” able to protect Israel in its shadow. Christ also appears as the Shepherd over His sheep (34:11–31). However, Ezekiel also describes the Shepherd’s judgment on those who abuse the people of Israel (34:17–24; see Matthew 25:31–46).

Key Words in Ezekiel

Son of Man: Hebrew ben ‘adam —2:1; 3:17; 12:18; 20:46; 29:18; 39:17; 44:5; 47:6—used over one hundred times referring to Ezekiel. It serves both to emphasize the difference between God the Creator and His creatures, and to mark the prophet Ezekiel as a representative member of the human race. Ezekiel’s life was a living parable or object lesson to the Hebrew captives in Babylon (compare 1:3; 3:4–7). In word and deed, Ezekiel was a “sign” to the house of Israel (12:6). Jesus adopted the title Son of Man because He, too, is a representative person—the “last Adam” who became a life-giving spirit (see Matthew 8:20; 1 Corinthians 15:45). The title Son of Man also alludes to Daniel’s vision of the heavenly being who is “like the Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13). Thus the title highlights the mystery of the Incarnation, the fact that Christ is both divine and human. As the God-man, Jesus became a glorious sign for all of sinful humanity (Luke 2:34).

Idols: Hebrew gillulim ––6:4; 8:10; 14:6; 20:24; 23:30; 36:18; 44:10—related to a verb which means “to roll” (Genesis 29:3; Joshua 10:18). The word refers to “shapeless things” like stones or tree logs of which idols were made (6:9; 20:39; 22:3; 1 Kings 21:26). The prophet Ezekiel uses this Hebrew term for idols nearly forty times, always contemptuously, as these false gods had led Israel away from the true God (14:5). The word gillulim may be related to a similar Hebrew expression meaning “dung pellets.” Later Jewish commentators mocked the gillulim as the “dung idols,” idols worthless as dung.

Glory: Hebrew kabod —1:28; 3:23; 9:3; 10:18; 31:18; 43:2; 44:4—derived from a Hebrew verb which is used to describe the weight or worthiness of something. It can refer to something negative. For example, in reference to Sodom, it depicts the severe degree of sin that had reached the point of making that city worthy of complete destruction (Genesis 18:20). But usually the word is used to depict greatness and splendor (Genesis 31:1). The noun form is translated honor in some instances (1 Kings 3:13). God’s glory is described in the Old Testament as taking the form of a cloud (Exodus 24:15–18) and filling the temple (1 Kings 8:11). The appropriate response to God’s glory is to reverence Him by bowing before Him, as Ezekiel did (3:23; 43:3).

 

Teaching Structure

  1. God’s judgment on Judah and Jerusalem
  2. The call of Ezekiel to confront a rebellious people (chs. 1-3)
  3. Signs, visions, metaphors and oracles declaring judgment for Jerusalem (chs. 4-24)

 

  1. God’s judgment on foreign nations
  2. Oracles against Ammon, Moab, Edom and Philistia (ch. 25)
  3. Oracles against Tyre (chs. 26-28)
  4. Oracles against Egypt (chs. 29-32)

 

  1. God’s restoration of Israel
  2. Renewal, return, restoration and resurrection (chs. 33-39)
  3. Vision of new temple, Torah, land and city (chs. 40-48)

 

A Brief Introduction to TaNaKh

A Brief Introduction to TaNaKh

I have said that, as we journey through the Bible Essentials Series, we will follow the order of TaNaKh, the Old Testament as Jesus (Yeshua) and the Disciples would have known.

 

TaNaKh is made up of 3 Sections: Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim. Here is the basic structure of TaNakh.

 

Torah

The Torah (תּוֹרָה, literally “teaching”), also known as the Pentateuch, or as the “Five Books of Moses”.  Torah is often, especially by Gentiles, referred to as the Law. This is partially correct in that it does contain the Mitzvot (Commandments/Law) but the Law is not the whole of Torah. Instead, Torah is the beginning of our instruction as to our need for a Redeemer and to His Person.

  • Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally “In the beginning”) – Genesis

  • Shemot (שְׁמֹות, literally “The names [of]”) – Exodus

  • Vayiqra (וַיִּקְרָא, literally “And He called”) – Leviticus

  • Bemidbar (בְּמִדְבַּר, literally “In the desert [of]” also called Wanderings) – Numbers

  • Devarim (דְּבָרִים, literally “Things” or “Words”) – Deuteronomy

Nevi’im

Nevi’im (נְבִיאִיםNəḇî’îm, “Prophets”) is the second main division of the Tanakh, between the Torah and Ketuvim. It contains three sub-groups. This division includes the books which cover the time from the entrance of the Israelites into the Land of Israel until the Babylonian captivity of Judah (the “period of prophecy”).

Their distribution is not chronological, but substantive.

The Former Prophets (נביאים ראשוניםNevi’im Rishonim)

  • Yĕhôshúa‘ (יְהוֹשֻעַ) – Joshua

  • Shophtim (שֹׁפְטִים) – Judges

  • Shmû’ēl (שְׁמוּאֵל) – Samuel

  • M’lakhim (מְלָכִים) – Kings

The Latter Prophets (נביאים אחרוניםNevi’im Aharonim)

  • Yĕsha‘ăyāhû (יְשַׁעְיָהוּ) – Isaiah

  • Yirmyāhû (יִרְמְיָהוּ) – Jeremiah

  • Yĕḥezqiēl (יְחֶזְקֵאל) – Ezekiel

The Twelve Minor Prophets (תרי עשר‎, Trei Asar, “The Twelve”), which are considered one book

  • Hôshēa‘ (הוֹשֵׁעַ) – Hosea

  • Yô’ēl (יוֹאֵל) – Joel

  • ‘Āmôs (עָמוֹס) – Amos

  • ‘Ōvadhyāh (עֹבַדְיָה) – Obadiah

  • Yônāh (יוֹנָה) – Jonah

  • Mîkhāh (מִיכָה) – Micah

  • Naḥûm (נַחוּם) – Nahum

  • Ḥăvaqûq (חֲבַקּוּק) – Habakkuk

  • Tsĕphanyāh (צְפַנְיָה) – Zephaniah

  • Ḥaggai (חַגַּי) – Haggai

  • Zkharyāh (זְכַרְיָה) – Zechariah

  • Mal’ākhî (מַלְאָכִי) – Malachi

Ketuvim

Ketuvim (כְּתוּבִים‎, “Writings”) consists of eleven books, described below. They are also divided into three subgroups based on the distinctiveness of Sifrei Emet and Hamesh Megillot.

The three poetic books (Sifrei Emet)

  • Tehillim (תְהִלִּים) – Psalms

  • Mishlei (מִשְׁלֵי) – Proverbs

  • Iyyôbh (אִיּוֹב) – Job

The Five Megillot (Ḥamesh Megillot). These books are read aloud in the synagogue on particular occasions, the occasion listed below in parenthesis.

  • Shīr Hashīrīm (שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים, literally “Song of songs”, also known as “Song of Solomon”) – Song of Songs

  • Rūth (רוּת) – Ruth

  • Eikhah (אֵיכָה) – Lamentations

  • Qōheleth (קֹהֶלֶת) – Ecclesiastes

  • Estēr (אֶסְתֵר) – Esther

Other books

  • Dānî’ēl (דָּנִיֵּאל) – Daniel

  • ‘Ezrā (עֶזְרָא) – Ezra and Nehemiah

  • Divrei ha-Yamim (דִּבְרֵי הַיָּמִים) – Chronicles

As we continue our journey through the essentails of each book of the Bible, may you be blessed by our time together and may Christ be glorified in you.

This information is sourced from the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) and is used by permission

Judges Essentials Lesson Notes

Judges Essentials Lesson Notes

Storyline of Judges

Though the Israelites were deeply enmeshed in sin and their enemies were formidable, even overwhelming, all was not lost. For “the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders” (Judges 2:16). This He did for Israel in that day—against the Amalekites, the Ammonites, and Moabites—and this He has done for all time for all who will trust in Christ—against all forces and beings, natural and supernatural, who would seek to separate Him from His children.

Key Verses: Judges 2:20, 21; 21:25—“Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, ‘Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died’” (2:20, 21).

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25).

Key People in Judges

Othniel —first judge of Israel; victorious over a powerful Mesopotamian king; brought forty years of peace to Israel (1:13–14; 3:7–11)

Ehud —second judge of Israel; brought Israel eighty years of peace by helping to conquer the Moabites (3:15–31)

Deborah —prophet and Israel’s only female judge; succeeded Shamgar as fourth judge of Israel (4:4–16; 5)

Gideon —Israel’s fifth judge; destroyed the Midianite army (6–8)

Abimelech —Gideon’s evil son who declared himself king over Israel; killed sixty-nine of his half brothers (8:31–9:57)

Jephthah —judge of Israel and warrior who conquered the Ammonites (11:1–12:7)

Samson —dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth; also a judge of Israel sent to overthrow the Philistines (13:24–16:31)

Delilah —Samson’s lover who betrayed him to the Philistines for money (16:4–21)

5 Reasons Behind Israel’s Decline

  1. Disobedience in failing to drive out the Canaanites from the land (1:19,21,35)

  2. Idolatry in adopting local gods and religious practices (2:12)

  3. Intermarriage with wicked Canaanites against God’s instructions (3:1–6)

  4. Minimal cooperation with the judges (2:17)

  5. Turning away from God after the death of each judge (2:19)

God’s Intervention in Israel’s Lives

Israel departs from following God’s ways. God faithfully corrects by allowing military defeat and foreign domination. Israel cries out for deliverance. God raises up judges who serve as civil or military champions and lead the people to victories over the oppressors.

Key Doctrines in Judges

God’s mercy in delivering Israel (2:16,18–19; Deuteronomy 30:3; Joshua 1:5; Psalm 106:43–45; Luke 1:50; Romans 11:30–32; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 2:4)

Israel’s apostasy (3:7; 4:1; 6:1; 8:33; 10:6; 13:1; 21:25; Numbers 31:1–3; Deuteronomy 32:18; 1 Samuel 12:9; 1 Kings 11:33; Isaiah 1:4; Ezekiel 6:11–14; John 3:18–21; Romans 7:5–6; Colossians 3:25; Titus 3:3)

God’s Character in Judges

God is righteous —5:11

God is wrathful —9:56

Christ in Judges

The Book of Judges traces the people of Israel through seven periods of rebellion and apostasy. During each period, specific judges are brought forth as deliverers and saviors for the fallen people. These judges illustrate Christ as the final Savior and King of His people (Luke 2:11; John 4:42;

Mark 15:2).

Key Words in Judges

Judge: Hebrew shaphat —2:16,18; 10:2; 11:27; 12:9,11; 15:20; 16:31—this Hebrew word for judge means “to deliver” or “to rule.” The judges of Israel had a wide range of responsibilities. Like their modern counterparts, Old Testament judges could decide controversies and hand down verdicts (Exodus 18:16). These judges were also involved in the execution of their judgment in both vindicating the righteous (Psalm 26:1) and destroying the wicked (Exodus 7:3). Many judges were God’s appointed military leaders who, empowered by God’s Spirit (6:34; 15:14), fought Israel’s oppressors and thereby delivered the people. Later, Israel’s king functioned as the national judge (1 Samuel 8:5). Ultimately, Israel’s perfect Judge is God. He alone is capable of flawlessly judging the wicked and delivering the righteous (Isaiah 11:4).

Riddle: Hebrew chidah —14:12–19—meaning “an enigmatic saying.” In Samson’s story, the riddle is used in a contest of wits. Proverbs attributes enigmatic sayings to the wise (Proverbs 1:6). When the Queen of Sheba tested Solomon’s wisdom, her questions are described by this same Hebrew word (1 Kings 10:1; 2 Chronicles 9:1). In the Lord’s confrontation with Miriam and Aaron, God describes Himself as speaking in “dark sayings” (the same Hebrew word) to the prophets, but to Moses face-to-face (Numbers 12:6–8). Perhaps Paul had this last concept in mind when he admonished the Corinthians that even someone with the ability to understand all mysteries would not amount to anything if that person did not possess the love of God (1 Corinthians 13:2).

Tribute—The word is derived from a similar word meaning “burden” and carries the sense of forced labor (Josh. 17:13; 1 Kin. 9:21; 2 Chr. 8:8; Prov. 12:24) more than a monetary tax, though the latter meaning is possible (e.g., 2 Kin. 5:22—“revenue”). The word can also refer to the group of people upon whom labor is forced (1 Kin. 5:13—“labor force”). The word is used in the same sense in Lamentations 1:1 but in the singular, rendered “slave.”

Teaching Structure

Life in the Promised Land after Joshua

1:1-36 Military successes and failures

2:1-5 Israel have disobeyed God by failing to complete the conquest of the land

2:6-10 The death of Joshua and the forgetfulness of Israel

2:11-23 The recurring cycle of disobedience and deliverance in the period of the judges

3:1-6 A list of the other nations who remained in the land

The stories of twelve judges

3:7-11 Othniel and the king of Aram

3:12-30 Ehud and the king of Moab

3:31 Shamgar and the Philistines

4:1-5:31 Deborah and Jabin, the Canaanite king

6:1-8:32 Gideon and the Midianites

8:33-9:57 Apostasy and Abimelech’s evil

10:1-2 Tola the judge of Israel

10:3-5 Jair the judge of Israel

10:6-12:7 Jephthah and the Ammonites

12:8-10 Ibzan the judge of Israel

12:11-12 Elon the judge of Israel

12:13-15 Abdon the judge of Israel

13:1-16:31 Samson and the Philistines

The religious and moral decline of Israel

17:1-13 The idolatry of Micah

18:1-31 The tribe of Dan worship Micah’s idol

19:1-30 The rape and death of a Levite’s concubine

20:1-11 Israel gather an army to avenge the concubine’s death

20:12-25 The Israelite army is defeated twice by the tribe of Benjamin

20:26-48 Benjamin is defeated by the Israelites

21:1-25 The defeated Benjamites take wives for themselves

Summary of What Joshua Teaches (ASB Excerpt)

Summary of What Joshua Teaches (ASB Excerpt)

What Joshua Teaches Us:

•  Life’s battles are not won because we are strong but because God is faithful and we obey him.

•  Land, a political and tribal issue in Africa, belongs to God. It is God’s way of providing sustenance to his people. When people are obedient, God blesses the land; however, he brings disaster to those who are disobedient. Obedience to the Lord is critical for success. For example, God warned against land grabbing by telling his people not to move boundary stones (Deuteronomy 19:14). Each tribe was to be content to live within its local boundaries.

•  Moses, Joshua, and the people all acted in a unified spirit of submission to God when they agreed on the choice of the successor of Moses to lead Israel. The people were responsible for obeying the Book of the Law. When someone disobeyed God, the guilty person was promptly disciplined. If the spiritual leadership in our churches had a unified spirit of submission to God, we could solve many of the problems in our churches (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

•  Joshua gave his last speech to confirm God’s faithfulness and to encourage the Israelites to serve God and only God. God himself gave the land to Israel. God had a specific place for each tribe and clan to help form their culture and identity.

Summary of What Deuteronomy Teaches (ASB Excerpt)

Summary of What Deuteronomy Teaches (ASB Excerpt)

What Deuteronomy Teaches Us:

•  God, our Sovereign Lord, has promised to be our Provider and Protector if we obey his commands. He takes delight in blessing us if we obey him. But he will punish us if we disobey him (Deuteronomy 28:63). Both obedience and disobedience have consequences

•  As God’s people, we should live intentionally in response to his love and mercy. God is building a holy community that is united. This community is to actively demonstrate love and justice.

•  Remembering what God has done for us in the past is powerful. It gives us joy and encourages us for the future. Writing down God’s instructions and blessings insures that future generations will continue to benefit from them.

•  Every individual must make his or her own commitment to God (Deuteronomy 5:1-3). No one inherits a relationship with God from parents or grandparents. This also means that no one is bound by the sinfulness or rebellion in their family history. Each individual starts fresh with God.

Summary of Numnbers (ASB Excerpt)

Summary of Numnbers (ASB Excerpt)

What Numbers Teaches Us:

•  Experiencing miracles does not necessarily bring faith. The children of Israel witnessed one miracle after another. The Red Sea swallowed the Egyptian soldiers; God gave them manna and quail to eat; God gave them water from a rock. Their journey was led by God himself in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Yet these miracles did not lead to faith and obedience. Many of our churches have an emphasis on miracles and power ministries. Unfortunately, these signs and miracles will not by themselves bring people to faith in Jesus and obedience to him.

•  “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). In 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, Paul remembers the story of Israel in the book of Numbers and says, “These things happened as a warning for us.”

•  Disobedience has consequences. God did not overlook the disobedience of Israel like a permissive parent. An entire generation of Israelites died in the wilderness. They experienced fire, snakebites, and plagues and did not get to enter the Promised Land. When we rebel against God, we deny ourselves the amazing experiences God intends for us.

•  God’s grace and faithfulness are stronger than those who would hurt us. Balak, king of Moab, called upon Balaam to curse Israel. Not only did Balaam fail to place a curse on Israel, but God, through the mouth of Balaam, reaffirmed his love and commitment to his chosen people. Many Christians live in fear of what others might do to them through sorcerers and diviners. Some even run to diviners to help protect them. But there is no greater power than the one we have in Jesus. If your life is hidden in Christ, you have no reason to fear any curse from anyone because God has all power (Numbers 23:23).

Leviticus Summary (ASB Excerpt)

Leviticus Summary (ASB Excerpt)

Applying the teaching of Leviticus to our lives may seem difficult because we no longer live according to the Old Testament law. On the other hand, some may use the practice of animal sacrifice in Leviticus as a reason for continuing animal sacrifices from African traditional religions. However, this is a misunderstanding of what Leviticus teaches us because those Old Testament sacrifices were just a shadow, not the real thing. The reality is Christ (see Hebrews 10:1-18). We now depend on his sacrifice, not on animal sacrifices. We can learn from Leviticus that—

•  God is holy. “Holy” means “set apart” or “different.” God is separate, different and distinct from us (Leviticus 11:44-45).

•  God expects his people to be holy (Leviticus 11:44-45). Being holy implies moral purity. When God says we are to be holy, he means that we are to be set apart. We should be different from the people around us. We should live in such a way that we show to others God’s love, grace, faithfulness, and mercy. Holiness does not come from obeying the rules in Leviticus. Instead, the way we live expresses our special relationship with God.

•  God desires to live among his people. To do so, he expects us to be obedient to him and worship him. Leviticus 26:1-2 explains what God expected of the Israelites. Leviticus 26:3-10 explains the blessings that God will pour out on them. The best part is the relationship between God and his people as described in Leviticus 26:11-12. God repeatedly says he wants to live among his people.