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Summaries of the Old Testament’s books.

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It’s nice to have the book order memorized, but it’s far more useful to know what’s in the books. So here’s a brief summary of each book of the Old Testament.Books of Moses.GENESIS. These are the formation stories of the earth and the Hebrew people.Creation.Adam and Eve and humanity’s fall.Noah ben Lamech, and humanity wiped out by floods.Babel, and humanity’s scattering.Avram ben Terah, or Abraham the Hebrew; his relationship with God, and his relocation to Canaan.Jacob ben Isaac, or Israel; his relationship with God, and the creation of his large family—the ancestors of the 13 tribes.Joseph ben Jacob, or as the Egyptians called him, Chafnat-pahaneakh; how he went from slavery to become Egypt’s vizier, and his brothers’ relocation to Egypt.EXODUS. Primarily it’s about the Exodus—how the Hebrew descendants of Israel became a nation, became enslaved by Egypt, and had to be saved by the LORD himself. It tells how the LORD did that, through 10 plagues of judgment upon Egypt. It introduce…

God’s still small voice?

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Y’might’ve heard this story before.1 Kings 19.11-13 KWL11The LORD said, “Go out. Stand on Mt. Sinai before the LORD’s face.”Look, the LORD passed by.A great, strong wind tore away the mountain, breaking rocks before the LORD’s face—but the LORDwasn’t in the wind.After the wind, an earthquake. The LORDwasn’t in the quake.12 After the quake, a fire. The LORDwasn’t in the fire.After the fire, a voice—a thin whisper.13 When Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his robe and went out to stand in the cave’s opening.Look, the voice to him said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”This is the only instance in the bible of a ק֖וֹלדְּמָמָ֥הדַקָּֽה/qol demamá daqqá, “a voice, a thin whisper,” better known by the way the KJV puts it, “a still small voice.”The only instance. Nowhere else is the LORD described as talking this way. Usually he’s super obvious, and super loud. Frighteningly loud, and even people who knew and loved him would cower in terror, ’cause God’s louder than the loudest thing t…

The senators dismiss the Galilean prophet.

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John 7.37-52.The last day of the Sukkot festival was treated like Sabbath.Lv 23.36, Nu 29.35 Every day, God was presented a ritual food offering; on the last day they presented a ritual drink offering. The priests drew water from the Šiloakh pool (where Jesus later sent a blind guy to wash himself) then walked round the temple’s altar with the water. Then the officiating priest lifted his hand to indicate the ritual was over… and then this happened.John 7.37-39 KWL37 On the last day, the great day, of the Sukkot feast, Jesus stood and called out,saying, “When anyone thirsts, come to me and drink!38When one believes in me, as the scriptures say,‘Rivers of living water will flow from his womb.’ ”39Jesus said this about the Spirit who was about to receive those who believed in him:The Holy Spirit hadn’t yet come, for Jesus hadn’t yet been glorified.Jesus’s bible quote isn’t an exact quote of anything. He was going for a general idea of water bubbling up from within, as implied in verses …

How do we fund our churches?

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Back in high school I invited a schoolmate to my church. After the service he confessed he was really bothered by the offering plates.Right after the worship songs, but before the karaoke (Christians call it “special music”—it’s where someone gets on stage and sings along to an instrumental track, i.e. karaoke), we passed offering plates. People put money in ’em. Sometimes in envelopes, so you couldn’t see how little they gave. Sometimes not, so you could.This bugged him: In the church where he was raised, they had an offering box in back of the auditorium, and if people wanted to put money in it (or, too often, trash), they could. He felt the box was way more appropriate than our ostentatious “Look what I gave” display, which reminded him too much of this story:Mark 12.41-42 KWL41 Sitting opposite the temple treasury, Jesus watched how the crowds threw money into the treasury.Many wealthy people threw in much.42 One poor widow who came by, threw in two coppers, worth a quadrans. [5¢]

Tithing: Enjoying one’s firstfruits with God.

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TITHEtaɪðnoun One-tenth.2.verb. Set aside a tenth of something, either as savings or as a charitable donation.3.verb. Give [either a tenth, or any variable amount] to our church.Most Christians define tithe as a donation to one’s church. But what we donate is pretty variable. Might be $20 a week, or $100 a month, or two hours of volunteer work (i.e. cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming the carpets, sterilizing the toys in the nursery… you do sterilize the toys regularly, right? Babies put ’em in their mouths). It’s whatever we regularly donate, although some of us aren’t all that regular about it.But for small churches, what we collectively donate isn’t always enough to cover our church’s expenses. Nor does it allow us to give pastors a stipend, or do much charity work… or pay the utilities or rent. Which is why Christian preachers so often feel they should remind us the word “tithe” comes from the Saxon teóða, “tenth”: It means a tenth of something. And that something would be your inco…