I am thrilled to announce that I will leading a new Study Group every Sunday morning in July and August at Harvest Bible Chapel, Naperville which is FREE and open to the public.
When: Every Sunday 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM, from 07/01/2012 to 08/27/2012
In the Valley of Elah: Encountering the Foreign Characters of the Bible
There are a lot of things in the biblical text that we read over quickly and don’t fully appreciate the depth and breadth of what we just read. Then, there are other things in the biblical text, a lot more of them in-fact, that we read over, even carefully, and we think we understand them plainly but, for various reasons, we have again failed to appreciate the breadth and depth of the words on the page.
For the first hearers of the word of God the place names, objects and cultural references of the text were immediately available to them. They didn’t have to be told where a place was, how a garment looked or how temple rituals were carried out. For us, bereft of this first-hand knowledge, the people and places of the bible have become legendary epics of Sunday School which take place in imaginary times, in imaginary places, to imaginary characters. This study, then, is primarily about showing how the people, places and periods discussed in the biblical text are real people, who inhabit real places, at real times. They act, are motivated by, and respond to real concerns in logical and realistic ways.
These concerns are familiar to us. Indeed, we can all identify with concerns over security, family, economics, and spiritual fulfillment but the ways in which we handle and mitigate these concerns are often very different from the life-ways of the people inhabiting the biblical text. These life-ways are often rooted in the physical realities of the biblical lands themselves. A land which is foreign to us. We are not accustomed to the lack of security and peace that prevailed in the land of the bible for nearly all of redemptive history. We are unaware of the dangers of travelling a constricted pass or the wanting thirst of a dried up cistern. This study, then, is also about reading the bible with our feet, exploring its foreign paths and routes and encountering its foreign characters in foreign times.
In the Valley of Elah two cultures encamped, one against the other. The Philistines took up one hill somewhere between Socoh and Azekah and the Israelites took up another hill, further up the valley, with the valley itself dividing the two camps. We all know where the story goes from here. The two cultures come to violent confrontation in the valley itself, David against Goliath. The valley was a crossroads, a meeting place of cultures for good or ill. Not only were these two cultures foreign to one another, they are foreign to us. We too are encamped upon a hill overlooking the valley of Elah, watching, observing, and wondering. How did it come to this, Who is this Goliath Character, Who Is this David Character, why have they come to blows in this place and what will the ultimate results of this confrontation be? For us to find out we have to descend, praying for the sure footedness of a doe as we scramble down the valley’s rocky edges, and stand with both David and Goliath, all foreigners to one another in the Valley of Elah.
Join us In the Valley of Elah. Each sessions is designed as an independent encounter with a Biblical Character, so don’t worry if your busy summer schedule keeps you from a few. I hope you can make it!