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Bible
Find It
A Simple Illustrated Guide
to Key Events, Verses,
Stories, and More

Bible
Find It

Illustrated Bible Handbook Series

Bible Find It
Kent Keller, D Min, and Jonathan Ziman
Copyright ©2012 eChristian
Please see author/contributor information on page 257 of this book.
Print ISBN 978-1-61626-599-1
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for
commercial purposes, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without written
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“From Bible Find It, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.”
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of the Bible.
Scripture quotations marked nlt are taken from the Holy Bible. New Living Translation
copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked niv are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®.
niv®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All
rights reserved worldwide.

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Interior Design
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Printed in China.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 1 Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s  | v . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 Jesus Stops a Storm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The Bush Doesn’t Burn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000. . . . . . . . . 1 6 Jesus Blesses the Children. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 An Ax Head Floats. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 Peter Escapes from Prison. 1 5 The Sun Moves Backward. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 7 A Donkey Speaks. . . 6 A Snake Is Raised. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 Naaman Is Healed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 An Angel Defeats 185. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 Elijah Rides in a Fiery Chariot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 Ananias and Sapphira Meet the Truth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Jacob Has a Dream. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Oil and Flour Keep Coming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 1 8 Jesus Heals a Crippled Hand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Table of Contents Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 Jesus Feeds 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 8 Paul Survives Capital Punishment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x i i Amazing Occurrences Abraham Makes a Sacrifice. . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Spies Return. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 Mark Runs Away Naked. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 A Dead Man Touches a Prophet’s Bones. . . . 8 The Sun Stands Still. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Bread Falls from Heaven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 5 Peter Has a Vision. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 Jesus Is Transfigured. .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Adam and Eve Disobey God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Daniel Is Thrown into the Lions’ Den. . . . . . . . . . Paul and Silas Sing in Prison. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . 68 John the Baptist Preaches in the Wilderness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 David Defeats Goliath. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Daniel’s Friends Survive a Fiery Furnace. . 56 Elijah Defeats the Prophets of Baal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Jesus Is Raised from the Dead. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Jesus Is Crucified. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 49 God Gives the Ten Commandments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 God Sends Plagues on Egypt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 The Tower of Babel Is Built. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Jonah Is Swallowed by a Great Fish. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Jesus Ascends to Heaven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 Lazarus Is Raised from the Dead. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Paul Survives a Shipwreck. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Eutychus Is Brought Back to Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 The Walls of Jericho Fall. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Big Events God Creates the Universe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 Solomon Builds the Temple. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65 Jesus Is Born. . . . . . . 48 God Parts the Red Sea. . . 66 The Wise Men Follow a Star. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Paul Shakes Off a Deadly Snake. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 vi | B i b l e Fi n d I t . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . 47 The First Passover Is Celebrated. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 42 A Flood Covers the Earth. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Jesus Enters Jerusalem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Jesus Has the Last Supper with His Disciples. . . 58 Esther Defeats Haman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Samson Brings Down the House. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 3 Isaiah: A Handpicked Prophet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Son of Jacob (NT): Earthly Father of the Son of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 8 Saul Becomes a Follower of Jesus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . 1 1 0 Joseph.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 9 Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s   | vii . . . 1 1 6 Lydia: Convert at the River. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Holy Spirit Comes. . . . . . 8 8 David: A Man after God’s Own Heart. . . . . 1 1 7 Mary: The One Who Said Yes to God. . . 1 0 8 John the Baptist: The Forerunner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 2 Elijah: Israel’s Greatest Prophet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 6 Job: The Tested Man. . . . . . . . 1 0 5 Jeremiah: The Weeping Prophet. . . . . . . . . . . 8 7 Daniel: Man of Prayer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 9 Favorite Folks Abraham: Friend of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 5 Barnabas: More Than a Sidekick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 2 Adam and Eve: First People. 1 0 9 Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 5 Luke: The Missionary Doctor. . . . . . . . . . 9 5 Elizabeth: Joyful Mom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 6 Caleb: The Faithful Spy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 3 Elisha: The Man of God. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 1 0 4 Jacob: The Schemer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 1 Joseph. . . . . . . . . 1 0 7 John: The Disciple Jesus Loved. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 8 Ezekiel: God’s Visionary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 7 Esther: Courageous Queen. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 3 Joshua: The Conquering Hero. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 0 Deborah: Warrior Prophet. . . . . . . . . . First Sin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 1 Hannah: The Desperate Pray-er. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Son of Jacob (OT): Favored Son. . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 9 Ezra: God’s Man in Troubled Times. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 0 Gideon: A Reluctant Hero. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 2 Isaac: The Promised Son. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . 1 4 0 Solomon: Wise and Foolish King. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 7 Saul: Flawed First King. . . . . . 1 2 3 Moses: The Reticent Deliverer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 5 4 “Apple of his eye”. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 1 5 2 “A house divided”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and Friends of Jesus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 5 8 “Can a leopard change his spots?”. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 4 Thomas: Honest Doubter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 5 5 “At my wit’s end”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 5 7 “By the skin of our teeth”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Meshach. . . . . . . . . . . Mary and Martha: Sisters. . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 4 Samuel: Prophet and Priest. . . . . 1 4 2 Stephen: First Martyr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 1 Priscilla and Aquila: Behind-the-Scenes Workers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . 1 5 9 “Don’t cast your pearls before swine”. 1 3 2 Ruth: Loyal Friend. . . . . . . . . . . and Abednego: Men Tested by Fire. . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 1 3 6 Sarah: Unlikely Mother. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 8 Simeon and Anna: Faithful Believers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 0 “Drop in the bucket”. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 3 Samson: A Flawed Superhero. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 6 Paul: The Great Missionary. . . . . . 1 5 3 “A man after his own heart”. . . . . . . . 1 5 6 “The blind leading the blind”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 1 viii | B i b l e Fi n d I t . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 6 Timothy: Protégé Pastor. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 2 Nehemiah: The Wall Builder. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 9 Shadrach. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 0 Philip: The Evangelist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 0 Mary Magdalene: Resurrection Eyewitness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 4 Noah: The Ark Builder. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 1 Matthew: The Tax-Collecting Disciple. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2 8 Peter: The Restored Denier. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 8 Overheard Quotes “A law unto themselves”. . .

. . 1 6 9 “Hammer swords into plowshares”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . let him cast the first stone”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Right?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 0 “What is truth?”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 6 “Many are called. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 1 “Where there is no vision. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 3 “Eye for an eye”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 7 “Twinkling of an eye”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 7 “Golden calf”. . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 3 “The truth shall set you free”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 6 “Fight the good fight”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 2 “Eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 5 “Letter of the law”. . which come to you in sheep’s clothing”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 0 “Suffer fools gladly”. . . . . .. . . . . . . drink. . . . . . . . . 1 9 1 “Sweat of your brow”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 1 “He that is without sin among you. . . . . . . . 1 6 5 “Fell on rocky ground”. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 9 “Weighed in the balances and found wanting”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the people perish”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 5 “Salt of the earth”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . and be merry”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 7 “Straight and narrow”. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 7 “Man shall not live by bread alone”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 3 “Pride goes before a fall”. . . . 1 8 0 “My brother’s keeper”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 4 “Labor of love”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 6 “To everything there is a season”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 2 It’s in There Somewhere. . . . . . . . 1 7 2 “Handwriting on the wall”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 1 “No peace for the wicked”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 8 “Wars and rumors of wars”. . . . . . . . . . 1 6 8 “Good Samaritan”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 4 “Put your house in order”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 4 “There’s nothing new under the sun”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 3 “How are the mighty fallen”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 4 “False prophets. . . . . . 1 8 9 “A soft answer turns away wrath”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 2 “The love of money is the root of all evil”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 0 “He gave up the ghost”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . but few are chosen”. . . . . . . . . 2 0 3 Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s   | ix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 8 “More blessed to give than to receive”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .“Dust of the earth”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 5 “Thorn in the flesh”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 2 “Out of the mouths of babes”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 6 “Signs of the times”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 8 The Mustard Seed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 7 Teaching Parables: About Wealth The Rich Fool. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 1 The Friend at Midnight. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . 2 0 9 The Yeast. . . 2 1 4 Teaching Parables: About Service and Obedience The Workers in the Vineyard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 2 1 6 The Loaned Money. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 6 The Proud Pharisee and the Corrupt Tax Collector. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 4 Teach Parables: About Humility The Wedding Feast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 1 The Pearl of Great Price. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 2 Teaching Parables: About Neighbors The Good Samaritan. . . . . . . . . 2 0 7 The Weeds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 1 x | B i b l e Fi n d I t . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 0 The Shrewd Manager. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 9 The Great Feast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 2 The Fishing Net. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Stories Jesus Told Teaching Parables: About the Kingdom of God The Soils. . . . . . 2 1 0 The Treasure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 9 Teaching Parables: About Prayer The Unjust Judge. . . . 2 1 3 The Growing Seed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 7 The Servant’s Role. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 8 The Nobleman’s Servants. . . .. . . .

. . 2 4 8 Scripture Reference Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 5 The Evil Farmers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 2 Parables of Judgment: About God’s Values The Unforgiving Debtor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 7 The Unproductive Tree. . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 0 The Ten Bridesmaids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 5 Gospel Parables: About Thankfulness The Forgiven Debts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Gospel Parables: About God’s Love The Lost Sheep. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 9 The Traveling Home Owner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 6 The Wedding Feast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 7 Parables of Judgment: About Christ’s Return The Faithful and Sensible Servant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 4 The Lost Son. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 9 Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s  | xi . . . 2 3 3 The Lost Coin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 4 The Two Sons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

but not the exact reference. . Each entry includes a Bible reference(s) and a description of the event. You can read the profiles of their lives. We’ve also provided Bible references to help you find each person’s story in the Bible. For example. . perhaps you’re wondering whether some of the stories or phrases you’ve heard others discuss are actually in the Bible. Adam and Eve. “put out a fleece. This section highlights key Bible people like Moses. and Paul’s shipwreck. „„ A  mazing Occurrences. Abraham’s call to sacrifice his son. and a paragraph of explanation about the phrase or word. „„ O  verheard Quotes. “The love of money. references in the Gospels where the parable is located.” “handwriting on the wall”). Each has a title.Introduction Ever ask yourself where in the Bible a particular story or a quote can be found? Perhaps you know the part of a verse (“I know it starts with ‘Love is patient’”). and an explanation of the significance of the parable. This section lists well-known phrases or words derived from the Bible (for example. „„ B  ig Events. common phrases misquoted from the Bible (“Money is the root of all evil” when the actual quote is. Or. Here you will find all of Jesus’ parables. . Some of these key events include the Flood and Noah’s ark. and so on. xii | B i b l e Fi n d I t . the Bible reference. This section highlights people in the Bible witnessed out of the ordinary events—events that reminded them of God’s presence. In this section. Each entry includes the quotation. David and Goliath. . With Bible Find It. we’ve taken out the guesswork so that you can know without a shadow of a doubt what’s in the Bible. you will find miracles and other major events in Bible times that greatly affected the lives of many people. the fall of Jericho. „„ S  tories Jesus Told. Each entry includes the Bible reference and a description of the event and its significance.”). In this book you’ll find . and common phrases that people think are from the Bible but aren’t (“Cleanliness is next to godli- ness”). Paul’s confrontation with a deadly snake. David. Moses’ meeting with God through the burning bush. „„ F  avorite Folks. Jesus’ miracles.

Consider Bible Find It your GPS—a resource that can take you wherever you want to go in the Bible.Use this book as a personal resource for information or personal devotions. you’ll be amazed at how much Bible knowledge you can gain in just a short time. I n t r o d u c t i o n  | xiii . Or you can use the scripture index in the back and read everything that relates to a specific passage. You can read it through from beginning to end or skip around to sections and entries that interest you most. key verses. It also will be a valuable resource for teaching a Sunday school class or small group. and the significant events of the Bible and their continued relevance in your life. As you learn about Jesus’ teachings.

xiv | B i b l e Fi n d I t .

 . So step right up and feast your eyes on some of the most amazing events ever to occur in history. Such a belief doesn’t take into account the real God who could perform all of these miraculous events.Amazing Occurrences M any people are tempted to lump the events in the Bible as mythology because of the amazing occur- rences listed: five thousand people fed with one lunch. angels taking on whole armies. Sometimes He performed them through trusted individuals who had faith in His power. bread falling from the sky.

God gave him a son. that is what happened to Abraham.  Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes. maybe fifty years or more. Just as Abraham took up the knife. Because of his remarkable faith. when you and your spouse are at retirement age. Abraham Makes a Sacrifice Genesis 22:1–19 Imagine you and your spouse have been married for decades. and did. Abraham received God’s praise and reiterated blessings. But Abraham had sworn a covenant oath to obey God.” Abraham replied. We can scarcely imagine how leaden his feet must have felt all the way up Mount Moriah with his beloved son. Then one day. when your son is a young teenager. your only son. but then told Abraham to sacrifice that very son. After waiting all those years. Finally. God stayed Abraham’s hand and provides a substitute. this same God tells you to kill him. “Here I am!” “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. What kind of God would do such a thing? The gods of the Canaanite cultures surrounding Abraham and his family would. Child sacrifice was quite common in that area at that time. God promises you a child but makes you wait another twenty-five years. “Do not hurt him in any way. What would you do? If you are not familiar with the story in Genesis 22. to prove how much you really love God—the very God who promised him to you all those years ago. You have not withheld from me even your son. And then. Abraham had perhaps even seen pagan altars where such atrocities had taken place. he is born and your life is fulfilled. It has been the single greatest heartache of your otherwise happy lives. But God had a different ending in mind. You always wanted children but were unable to have any.” (Genesis 22:10–12 nlt) 2 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . for now I know that you truly fear God. At that moment the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven.

though. familiar faces in unfamiliar places. all the way to heaven. What if the dream came from God? What if He used it to communicate something important to you? That’s what happened with Jacob in Genesis 28:10–17. which God had promised to his grandfather Abra- ham. the Lord promised to be with Jacob and his descendants and to protect them wherever they went. Furthermore.” Most of us have had such dreams—of flying. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. Can any of your dreams top that?  As he slept. and that his descendants would be too numer- ous to count. “You’re not going to believe the dream I had last night. he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. Most of all. and so on. Angels were going up and down the stairway. who is Himself the bridge between God and man (John 1:51). That dream came true in the establishment of the kingdom of Israel. (Genesis 28:12 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 3 . God himself stood at the top of the stair- way and actually spoke to Jacob. Jacob Has a Dream Genesis 28:10–17 Have you ever had a strange dream from which you awoke and later said to someone. They would spread out in all directions and be a blessing to everyone in the world. He dreamed of a stairway that reached from where he slept in the land of Canaan. The Lord reassured him that he would indeed inherit that land. Jacob’s dream of a stairway opening up access between heaven and earth foreshadowed the coming of Jesus.

Enraged. that is. After all. a wooden object usually burns to ash. Though the bush was engulfed in flames. his- tory.” (Exodus 3:1–3 nlt) 4 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . One day he saw an Egyptian mistreating a fellow Hebrew. He saw a bush ablaze with fire yet not burned up. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush.  One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law. He had a mission for Moses: go back to Egypt and lead His people out of their bondage. tried to cover up his crime.” he obeyed God. it didn’t burn up. the nation of Israel was rescued from bondage and returned to the Promised Land. Moses stared in amazement. he murdered the Egyptian. from royal robes to a shepherd’s tunic. born a Jew in Egypt. outlaw to lawgiver. Moses had his flocks grazing on the slopes of Mount Sinai. Until the day. and in fact world. was by an act of God’s grace raised in Pha- raoh’s palace. the priest of Midian. It must have been quite a come-down for Moses. “This is amazing. Jethro.The Bush Doesn’t Burn Exodus 3:1–10 Moses. but Pha- raoh found out. the mountain of God. Such a sight encouraged him to move closer. This was the moment Moses went from fugitive to leader. Because he said yes to God. But God used the steadily burning bush to get Mo- ses’ attention. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it. Even though Moses was very reluctant to go back to “the scene of the crime. Moses’ encounter with a burning bush is a pivotal event in biblical. forty years later. As improbable as all this sounds. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai.” Moses said to himself. Moses had to flee Egypt to the land of Midian where he went about rebuilding his life: from Pharaoh’s palace to the wilderness of Midian.

most grateful people in the world. The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. the lack thereof. Indeed they were as they passed through the midst of the Red Sea safely through to the other side. The people actually said they would rather have died as slaves in Egypt than as free people out in the wilderness. they began grumbling almost as soon as the waters closed up over the unfortunate Egyptian soldiers. You would think the people of Israel. they asked. They had no idea what it was. The first time the Israelites saw the miracle bread. But ironically. you get your bread from a store or bakery. And Moses told them. would have been the happiest. God graciously and miraculously provided food for them. It was a daily object lesson in learning to trust the faithfulness of God. He also told them He would provide for them what they needed every day.” hence the name by which it is known today. The complaints concerned the food they had in the wilderness. When the dew evaporated. Rather than punish them for their ingratitude. or more accurately. But in the time of Moses. but from the sky. having just been freed from their captivity in Egypt. and that they were not to hoard any or try to collect more than they needed. naturally enough.” (Exodus 16:13–15 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 5 . That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. “What is it?” they asked each other. He gave them bread every morning and meat (in the form of quail) every evening. Bread Falls from Heaven Exodus 16:4–21 More than likely. “What is it?” In the Hebrew language “what is it” is translated “manna. a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. the people of Israel acquired bread not from a store. “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat. The ones who didn’t obey found out God meant what He said. thanking God and praising Him in song (Exodus 14:29–15:21).

The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. We even saw giants there. and their towns are large and fortified. Note the word promised.” he said. and the Hittites. They grumbled against Moses and Aaron. Not all of the spies were in agreement on that view. One bad decision cost them the land. But— there’s always a but—in their assessment. they would wander in the desert for forty years. Instead. and the children of that generation lived long enough to enter the land. God promised that the land would be theirs. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. the descendants of Anak! The Amalekites live in the Negev. But the people living there are powerful.  This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites. The Israelites can attest to that.The Spies Return Numbers 13:1–33 The consequences of one bad decision can be lifelong sometimes. The men set out on their forty-day reconnaissance mission and returned bearing fruit and a good report of how fertile and rich the land was. and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey.” But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. At the brink of Canaan—the land God promised to give the Israelites upon rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. (Numbers 13:27–32 nlt) 6 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Joshua and Caleb urged the people to go forth and conquer in the strength of the Lord. Jebusites. Moses sent twelve spies—one from each tribe—to scout out the land. the people living there were too powerful to conquer. Only Joshua. “Let’s go at once to take the land. and Amorites live in the hill country. Caleb. choosing to believe the negative report. But the people of Israel already were conquered by fear. So God decreed that they would not enter the land.

“Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:14–15 nlt). After the Lord miraculously provided water for them in the wilderness (Numbers 20:1–11). Num- bers 21 is another painful example of the people’s pre- disposition toward complaining. Not surprisingly. this time He got their attention. the people once again quickly forgot His goodness to them and whined about the lack of water and “suitable” food. They cried out to Moses. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. God then graciously made a way of deliverance for those who had been stricken: while they were help- less to save themselves. In this way the Lord reminded them of the serious consequences of their sin and of His graciousness to them as their covenant God. so the Son of Man must be lifted up. This time God grew impatient with their ingratitude and allowed poisonous snakes to bite them. Jesus later revealed that this episode was a foreshadowing of His own saving death on the cruel cross: “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness. they could merely look at a bronze replica of a snake Moses made and they would be healed. A Snake Is Raised Numbers 21:4–9 Sometimes as we read the Old Testa- ment we get the impression the Israelites con- tinually complained.  Then the Lord told him. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed! (Numbers 21:8–9 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 7 . asking him to pray for them.

I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life. Three times the donkey turned aside to avoid the angel of the Lord who stood in the road with a drawn sword. A talking donkey? Really? Yet that is exactly what happened. “If I had a sword with me. Then. The donkey’s actions roused Balaam’s anger. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. Balaam had a reputation for being able to bless and curse others. God used extraordinary means to prevent him from doing so. jarring stories. unorthodox. (Numbers 22:28–30 nlt) 8 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . creative ways to accomplish His purposes— even a talking donkey. But the angel sided with the donkey. when it appeared as though Balaam was intent upon going beyond what God told him to do. First.” Balaam admitted. the Lord got his attention by allowing his donkey to talk to him. “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. warning him not to curse those whom God had already determined to bless. God delights in using unusual. When King Balak of Moab appealed to Balaam to use his alleged abilities to curse the Israelites.  Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No. This is the only time in the Bible such an event takes place.” the donkey answered. shaking your head in disbelief? The story of Balaam and his donkey (Numbers 22:21–34) is one of those jolting.A Donkey Speaks Numbers 22:21–34 Do you ever find yourself reading something in the Bible. God spoke directly to him.

where five Amorite kings joined together to fight against Israel. the land God promised to them. The Sun Stands Still Joshua 10:7–14 Do you ever say to yourself. “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon. He said. As God promised. No doubt there are enormous physical and even cosmological implications of such an event. Some people. God obliged. understandably. and Joshua’s troops doggedly pursued the rest. Joshua and the old covenant people of Israel were in the process of conquering Canaan. question how this could possibly take place. The answer is that God is sovereign over nature. The rout was so overwhelming that Joshua hated to see the sun go down. They fought tenaciously to defend their homes and their territory. this story is for you. The people they had to dispossess of the land did not stand idly by and allow the invading army to simply take over.” So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. “I need more hours in the day”? If so. The God who created the laws of the universe can set them aside or supersede them when and as He sees fit. causing the earth to experience the longest day in history. God sent a hailstorm to kill many of them. So he asked God to hold it still in the sky. sending them into a full-fledged retreat. and the moon over the valley of Aijalon. Joshua and his men routed their enemies. Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. One major battle took place at the city of Gibeon.  On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites. (Joshua 10:12–13 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 9 .

Oil and Flour Keep Coming
1 Kings 17:8–16

The Bible is replete with admonitions to take care of widows and orphans
(e.g., Deuteronomy 10:18; 14:29). Here is an example of a time when
God Himself did a miracle through His prophet, Elijah, to meet the needs
of a widow and her son.
In the first half of the ninth century bc, Elijah was God’s spokesman to
the kings and people of Israel, calling them to repent of their sins and
return to their covenant vows before the Lord. On this occasion, however,
God sent His servant to a non-Jewish widow in the small Canaanite village
of Zarephath on the Mediterranean coast.
The people there were in the throes of a terrible famine, one so severe
that this poor widow was out gathering wood to cook what she thought
would be the last meal for herself and her son. A desperate situation,
indeed, but God used it as a platform from which to demonstrate His
power and concern for the poor and powerless.
Elijah asked the woman for some water and a little bread, a very
common thing for a traveler to do in the ancient Near East at that
time. This widow, however, informed her would-be table guest of
her desperate situation, and that she had only what she needed for
that final meal. Imagine her sadness and tears as she said those words
and her surprise when this stranger said the above words.
Amazingly, she complied, and God came through
for her and her son. He demonstrated to
her and through her that when we trust
Him in spite of our circumstances, He
can be depended on to come
through.

 But Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid! Go ahead and do
just what you’ve said, but make a little bread for me first. Then
use what’s left to prepare a meal for yourself and your son. For
this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be
flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the
Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”
(1 Kings 17:13–14 nlt)

10 | B i b l e Fi n d I t

Elijah Rides in a Fiery Chariot
2 Kings 2:1–12

Have you ever thought about how you would like your life to end? A
strange question perhaps, but one that most people have thought about
at least occasionally. Most of us, if we had a choice, would likely prefer to
die in our sleep in our own bed.
The prophet Elijah had no such quiet, uneventful home going. After a
spectacularly eventful, even turbulent ministry among the kings and people
of Israel (1 Kings 17–2 Kings 2), it is fitting that his departure from this
world was also dramatic. In fact, he was one of two people in the Bible
who didn’t die before leaving the earth.
When God was ready to bring Elijah home and transfer the prophetic
mantle to his servant Elisha, God had Elijah strike the Jordan River with his
cloak. The waters parted, reminiscent of the parting of the Red Sea before
Moses (Exodus 14:13–31) and the Jordan at Joshua’s command (Joshua
3:1–17). But that was merely a warm-up: after the two men crossed over
to the other side, a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire appeared and
took Elijah away, carrying him off to heaven. It was a fitting climax to his
ministry, often punctuated by the appearance of fire (1 Kings 18:38; 19:12;
2 Kings 1:10–14).

 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire
appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men,
separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.
Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and
charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his
clothes in distress.
(2 Kings 2:11–12 nlt)

Amazing Occurrences | 11

Naaman
Is Healed
2 Kings 5:1–14

If you had a dreadful disease,
one that disfigured you and
made you a social outcast,
and were told to a take a dip
in a nearby river to be cured,
would you do it? Most people
would probably say yes, even
if that river was polluted.
But Naaman, the commander
of the Aramean army, didn’t
see it that way. Afflicted
with leprosy, he nevertheless
remained a proud warrior.
When a young Jewish slave
girl suggested he ask the Is-
raelite prophet Elisha to heal
him, and his king agreed,
Naaman went along with it.
But when Elisha sent a mes-
senger to tell Naaman to sim-
ply wash himself seven times
in the muddy Jordan River,
the great warrior balked. He
was insulted. He wanted Eli-
sha himself to come and heal
him or perhaps give him some
great task to accomplish. But washing seven times in the Jordan? How
demeaning!
Naaman would have returned to Aram an angry leper had not his officers
intervened and reasoned with him. Listening to the voice(s) of reason, he
followed Elisha’s advice and came up healed.

 So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven
times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as
healthy as the skin of a young child’s, and he was healed!
(2 Kings 5:14 nlt)

12 | B i b l e Fi n d I t

An Ax Head Floats
2 Kings 6:1–7

As miracles go, seeing an iron object that is too heavy and too dense to
float on water and yet still does, is not tops on the list. It doesn’t quite
rank with the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14) or Jesus raising someone
from the dead (Mark 5:21–43; Luke 7:11–15; John 11:1–46). But when
a man of God commands something to happen that defies the laws of
nature, and it does in fact occur, it is noteworthy all the same.
One day a group of prophets led by Elisha gathered by the Jordan River
to cut down trees to build a meeting place. One of the men, perhaps ne-
glecting to check the condition of the far end of the ax he was using, got
a little carried away in his efforts, and the ax head flew off. Or, possibly he
carelessly allowed the heavy iron head to slip down the wooden handle and
off the narrow end. Either way, the iron cutting implement, which would
have been a rare and precious tool in that time and place, fell into the water.
The man was understandably alarmed, since the ax head belonged to
someone else. He cried out to Elisha for help. After asking where the ax
head fell, Elisha cut a stick and threw it to the same place. Miraculously,
the ax head floated to the surface, and the man eagerly grabbed it.
God used this event to validate that Elisha was indeed his chosen servant.
God would use other miracles, including someone actually walking on
water to validate that Jesus was His Son.

 When they arrived at the Jordan, they began cutting down trees. But
as one of them was cutting a tree, his ax head fell into the river. “Oh, sir!”
he cried. “It was a borrowed ax!”
“Where did it fall?” the man of God asked. When he showed him
the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it into the water at that spot. Then
the ax head floated to the surface. “Grab it,” Elisha said. And the man
reached out and grabbed it.
(2 Kings 6:4–7 nlt)

Amazing Occurrences | 13

A Dead Man Touches
a Prophet’s Bones
2 Kings 13:20–21

God did incredible things through Elisha during the prophet’s ministry to
the people of Israel: restoring a dead boy to life (2 Kings 4:18–37), healing
a leper (2 Kings 5:1–14), blinding an entire army (2 Kings 6:18), and many,
many more. But God caused yet one more miracle to occur through Elisha
after he was dead and buried.
A man had died, and a group of his fellow Israelites were burying his body.
It so happened that they buried their late countryman in the same place
where Elisha had been laid to rest. Spying a nearby raiding party from
Moab, the burial detail naturally wanted to get away from these raiders,
their adversaries. So they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. Coming
into contact with the bones of the late prophet brought the dead man
back to life! He sprang to his feet, no doubt with an incredible story to tell
his family and friends.
We’re not told whether the Moabite raiding party witnessed this resurrec-
tion. If so, we can surmise that they probably cut their mission short. In any
case, the man who was given a new lease on life undoubtedly had a new
appreciation for life, for God’s servant Elisha, and for God, too.

 Then Elisha died and was
buried. Groups of Moabite
raiders used to invade the
land each spring. Once when
some Israelites were burying
a man, they spied a band
of these raiders. So they
hastily threw the corpse into
the tomb of Elisha and fled.
But as soon as the body
touched Elisha’s bones,
the dead man revived and
jumped to his feet!
(2 Kings 13:20–21 nlt)

14 | B i b l e Fi n d I t

Hezekiah also appealed to the Lord to defend his own honor and glory. God specializes in such ironic reversals. Any unbiased assessment of the situation would have given the Assyrians overwhelming odds against the much smaller and less formidable army of Judah.  That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there. He soon realized that the God of Israel has a sense of irony. however. (2 Kings 19:35–36 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 15 . they found corpses everywhere. Yet the situation was about to get even worse. He even mocked his trust in God to deliver them. King Sennacherib of Assyria laid siege to Jerusalem. God only needed one angel to take on Sennacherib’s allegedly invincible army. That is exactly what happened. pleading for him to deliver his people from their oppressors. An Angel Defeats 185. his army vastly overmatching that of Judah’s King Hezekiah. but not just for their sake. Any prudent military adviser would have counseled Hezekiah to discuss immediate terms of surrender in order to spare his people complete annihilation.000 Assyrian soldiers. his own sons assassinated him as he worshipped his god. Some years after this humiliating defeat (in 681 bc). Big mistake. Supremely confident in his military superiority. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning. God. humbling the exalted and exalting the humbled. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He had a major surprise awaiting Sennacherib and his unfortunate soldiers. Sennacherib taunted Hezekiah in the hearing of the people of Jerusalem. is never impressed by nor limited to such human judgments.000 2 Kings 19 In 701 bc. Hezekiah cried out to the Lord.

” So Isaiah the prophet asked the Lord to do this. Again. Make it go ten steps backward instead. The king. confirming for Hezekiah that his life would indeed be extended. God did it. So he asked for a sign. thereby supernaturally either shortening the day or lengthening the day. wanted some assurance that this would indeed be the case. this story is for you. Although God does not always grant such requests. Hezekiah. perhaps more keenly aware now of the preciousness of time. His next response was to cry out to the Lord and ask for healing. and he caused the shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz! (2 Kings 20:8–11 nlt) 16 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Isaiah.” Hezekiah replied.The Sun Moves Backward 2 Kings 20:1–11 If you have ever wished for more hours in a day or more years in your life. understandably. But sometimes He does. chose to ask God to move the sun backward ten steps (reminiscent of Joshua and the sun standing still at the battle of Gibeon—Joshua 10:1–15). “so that would be easy. God then did something virtually un- paralleled in Scripture: He gave Hezekiah a choice of miraculous signs. God would cause the shadow on the sundial of King Ahaz to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps. depending on Hezekiah’s decision. “What sign will the Lord give to prove that he will heal me and that I will go to the Temple of the Lord three days from now?” Isaiah replied. “This is the sign from the Lord to prove that he will do as he promised. God doesn’t always say yes to such prayers. Would you like the shadow on the sundial to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps?” “The shadow always moves forward. this time He did.  Meanwhile. much as we wish He would. King Hezekiah of Judah received the dreaded diagnosis of his impending death not from a royal physician but a divinely anointed prophet. Like most of us. Hezekiah had said to Isaiah. his initial reaction was one of sadness. even telling Hezekiah (through Isaiah) how much more time he would be given—fifteen years.

Amazing Occurrences | 17 .

Those parents sensed there was something about Him that was different. and the youth group or children’s ministry is in another room close by. But Jesus said. But rather than see them as nuisances. Of course there are times when young people get out of control and need some serious. before either bodily injuries or structural damages occur. (Matthew 19:13–15 nlt) 18 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .Jesus Blesses the Children Matthew 19:13–15 “Get those kids out of here! They’re making way too much noise!” How many times have you heard (or said?) those words or words like them at a church event? Maybe you’ve had this experience: the adults are having a meet- ing in one room to discuss a serious mat- ter. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. Too close. however. perhaps. we need to consider how Jesus received them: as opportunities for blessing and advancing God’s kingdom.  One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. because the noise level of the youth activity reaches that point at which the adults’ heads begin to turn and frowns appear. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children. “Let the children come to me. immediate crowd control. that He was genuinely interested in their children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. Someone is dispatched to quiet the young people or instruct them to relocate. How different is Jesus’ reaction to a group of “inconvenient” children whose par- ents brought them to Him so He could place His hands on them and pray for them. Jesus welcomed the children. Far from being bothered. Yet the disciples “scolded the parents for bothering him” (v. 13).

blindness or deafness.” So the man held out his hand.  Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand. and it was restored! (Mark 3:3–5 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 19 . In their view such healing would violate the law of Moses. already renowned as a miraculous healer. Jesus was angry and deeply saddened by their callousness and lack of compassion. So when He did. including yourself.” Then he turned to his critics and asked. Then he said to the man. he challenged those critics. restoring the withered hand of a man there. “Hold out your hand. right? No doubt you would rejoice either way. “Hard-hearted” pretty well sums up Jesus’ enemies. or Parkinson’s disease? How would you react if the Lord healed that person or yourself during a Sunday morning worship service? Silly question. the scribes and Pharisees this day in the synagogue. crippling arthritis. to see if He would heal anyone on the Sabbath. Jesus Heals a Crippled Hand Mark 3:1–6 Do you know anyone. or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him. you would have to be very hard-hearted to do anything other than celebrate such an event. “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath. Imagine seeing a man healed of a severe deformity and quibbling over when it happened! They had come specifically to watch Jesus. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. He asked if the law permitted such good works—and they refused to answer. with a significant physical disability— cerebral palsy. “Come and stand in front of everyone. Regardless of your views on Sabbath keeping.

On this occasion. 38 nlt). one that stands out is His mastery over nature. sound asleep in the stern while his fishermen followers were frantically bailing and fearing for their lives: “The disciples woke him up. Soon after setting out a nasty storm blew up. some of whom were fishermen who made their living on that very body of water. shouting. were nevertheless extremely frightened. Incredibly. a carpenter. 38 nlt) 20 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . The disciples. threatening to capsize the boat. “Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion” (v.Jesus Stops a Storm Mark 4:35–41 Of all the characteristics that make Jesus of Nazareth special in all of history. don’t you care that we’re going to drown?’” (v. Imagine—Jesus. ‘Teacher. Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee. after a day spent teaching the multitudes in parables.

he rebuked the wind and said to the waves. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. ‘Even the wind and waves obey him!’” Two thousand years later. people still wonder. They immediately did so. Jesus commanded the wind and the waves to be still. and the elements themselves.Taking command of the situation. Then he asked them. “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped. and there was a great calm. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:39–41 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 21 . provoking even more terrified and awestruck reactions from the disciples: “‘Who is this man?’ they asked each other.  When Jesus woke up. “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified.

” Tradition holds that the Last Supper took place in an upper room in Mark’s family home in Jerusalem. Jesus and the disciples walked to the garden of Gethsemane. Not identifying himself as one of the disciples. One young man following behind was clothed only in a long linen shirt.Mark Runs Away Naked Mark 14:50–52 Writers of ancient historical documents did not always identify themselves. When the mob tried to grab him.  Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. it stands to reason that if Mark had followed Jesus and the disciples. he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked. where Judas’s betrayal and the arrest took place. Mark placed himself at the scene wearing “only. Instead. “I was the one who did this. they would place an eyewitness detail in the narrative that would give a clue as to their identity. It is just one more reason to trust the authenticity of the Bible. . Since these dramatic events took place in the middle of the night. It is quite unusual for such an author to include a detail like this that makes him look bad. 51 nlt)—likely his nightshirt. he might not have bothered or perhaps had time to get dressed more appropriately. Following the meal. as this brief glimpse into the night before Jesus’ death does Mark. (Mark 14:50–52 nlt) 22 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . but without saying.a long linen shirt”(v. .

but there may have been at least double that amount of people present. Before anyone knew it. The twelve disciples asked Jesus to send away the crowd so that they could find food. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish. They all ate as much as they wanted. He was the Son of God! First. all you need is one boy’s lunch. Jesus replied. As a popular teacher. Jesus drew large crowds. and afterward. But Jesus didn’t need a convenience store. he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. Jesus took the food. Not an easy task in the days before convenience stores. And passing it out. And passing it out. looked up toward heaven. There was even enough food left over to fill twelve baskets! One basket for each doubting disciple. the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers! (Luke 9:14–17 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 23 . Nevertheless. everyone had been given food. and blessed them. gave thanks for it.000).000 Luke 9:10–17 How much food would it take to feed over 5. and started passing it out. “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.  For there were about 5.000 men there. Jesus Feeds 5. the Bible accounts only mention the men (5. Not much for even one person.000 people? With Jesus around.” So the people all sat down. He assessed what they already had: five loaves and two fish donated by a child. During one preaching ses- sion. breaking the loaves into pieces. Then.

He would be overcome. and James up on a mountain to pray.  About eight days later Jesus took Peter. and his clothes became dazzling white” (v. two men. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world. stunned. alive and well. and his clothes became dazzling white. and James (and through their eyewitness account. On that occasion. Can you imagine? Peter. here they were before them. and James up on a mountain to pray. an epi- sode commonly referred to as the Transfiguration. it must be considered one of the most astonishing episodes in the most astonishing life ever lived. We’re not told which mountain. the crucifixion and resurrection certainly outrank it. John. (Luke 9:28–31 nlt) 24 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . John. Jesus took Peter. John. and suddenly. breathed our air. and perhaps impulsively blurt out something inane like Peter did (v. One of the most remarkable is recorded in Luke 9:28–36 (also Matthew 17:1–13 and Mark 9:2–13). That would be overwhelming enough. healed our afflictions and bore our sins. But there was more: Moses and Elijah appeared. the appearance of his face was transformed. 29 nlt). What matters is that He went up that mountain with those three men. John. Jesus Is Transfigured Luke 9:28–36 Many amazing events took place during the time Jesus walked our ground. and James had grown up hearing about and studying the writings of or about these men. It would be like an American citizen touring the White House and suddenly encountering George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. often seen as sort of His “inner circle. which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. They were glorious to see. the appearance of his face was transformed. the rest of us). it doesn’t really matter. appeared and began talking with Jesus. 33). But for Peter. Moses and Elijah. The transfiguration of Jesus on that mountain and the appearance of Moses and Elijah were not the most astounding events in the life of Jesus. And as he was praying.” and “as he was praying. Suddenly.

One exception to that took place in Jerusalem with Peter and a couple named Ananias and Sapphira. Sapphira. and the others. unmistak- ably clear is that God took a very dim view of their actions: first Ananias. then Sapphira dropped dead on the spot after lying to Peter. Most of these were welcomed by those who were the objects of the supernatural power manifested through these men. He brought part of the money to the apostles. they were under no obligation to give the proceeds to the church. and cheerful generosity. bold evangelism. and you kept some of the money for yourself.” (Acts 5:1–3 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 25 . With his wife’s consent. claiming it was the full amount. Philip. We may thank God that He does not always deal with all sin so harshly. Those early converts to Christianity were characterized by fervent worship. John. Ananias and Sapphira Meet the Truth Acts 5:1–11 Dramatic events swirled around the apostles in the days following Jesus’ ascension and the early days of the founding of the church. Then Peter said. “Ananias. he kept the rest. sold some property. Such hap- penings were necessary as authentication of the ministries and authority of Peter. devoted community.  But there was a certain man named Ananias who. Perhaps they wanted more credit than they truly deserved. Why they engaged in this deceit is not clear. why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit. What is painfully. We should also remember we live our lives before a holy God and let that knowledge inform every aspect of our conduct. with his wife. which makes the actions of Ananias and Sapphira all the more tragic and unnecessary. The church in Jerusalem experienced explosive growth in the weeks following Pentecost (Acts 2).

those beyond the bounds of ethnic Judaism. just after the vision concluded. taught Peter that since Jesus had come and fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17). reptiles. and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. Peter. Sure enough. But while a meal was being prepared. and he was hungry.kill and eat them” (v. and close friends. the old covenant people of Israel. a Roman army officer—a Gentile—to request that Peter come with them to preach the Gospel to Cornelius. He saw the sky open. Lord. he fell into a trance. But his protest brought a most unexpected rebuke: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean” (v. So imagine how Peter. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean. 15 nlt). Peter was aghast. your face would not freeze that way? Those are silly examples that make a serious point: some beliefs we grow up with die hard. and birds. his family.” “No. Then a voice said to him. he consented. He protested that he had never broken kosher laws before. it was time to set aside the Levitical proscriptions against eating unclean animals. They had been sent by Cornelius. . committed Jew must have felt when he had a vision of all kinds of “unclean” animals—animals classified as nonkosher according to Old Testament dietary laws (Leviticus 11)—and a voice telling him to “Get up.  The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town. . which was repeated three times. a lifelong. three men came to the house where Peter was staying and asked him to come with them. Where Peter previously would have refused to go with them or enter a Gentile household. kill and eat them.Peter Has a Vision Acts 10:9–33 How old were you when you learned there was no Santa Claus? That go- ing swimming less than thirty minutes after eating would not cause you to have a cramp and drown? That when you made funny faces at your mother. But it also taught something much more fundamental and far-reaching: that God’s plan of redemption was and is far broader than just for ethnic Jews. In the sheet were all sorts of animals.” Peter declared. He went to Cornelius’s house and shared the good news of Jesus with them. It was about noon.” (Acts 10:9–14 nlt) 26 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . The vision. Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. “Get up. It was the beginning of the proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles. His plan includes Gentiles. 13 nlt).

Amazing Occurrences | 27 .

The night before his trial was to begin. It wasn’t until they heard Peter’s continued. Peter realized this was no dream or vision. was ar- rested by King Herod for the simple crime of following Jesus. Peter Escapes from Prison Acts 12:6–19 Talk about your dramatic jail breaks. He awakened Peter. 28 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . What happened next is almost humorous. the angel suddenly disappeared. an angel radiant with light appeared in the cell. Peter followed the angel to the Jerusalem city gate. At that point. Peter went to the home of his younger friend John Mark (who would later write the Gospel of Mark) and began knocking at the gate. which opened by itself. Escape seemed completely out of the question. the brother of John and another key leader of the church. “she was so overjoyed that. undoubtedly urgent knocking and went to the gate themselves that they saw and believed. Others soldiers stood guard at the prison gate. To make matters even worse. the leader of the early church. God does. Herod had already put James. Those inside had been praying for Peter’s release. to death for the same crime. told him to get dressed and come with him. As they walked through the gate and out into the city. chained between two soldiers. The apostle Peter. Probably very few Christians today have witnessed or experienced an answer to prayer as dramatic as that. . Peter was imprisoned. she ran back inside and told everyone. . 14 nlt). Thinking it was all another vision. He was really free. leaving Peter alone on the city street. however. but perhaps like some of us they refused to believe God had answered their prayers. A servant girl came to open it. Until. released him from his chains. Things were not looking good for Peter. still answer our prayers. instead of opening the door. but when she heard Peter’s voice. ‘Peter is standing at the door!’” (v.

He didn’t realize it was actually happening. Then the angel told him. there was a bright light in the cell. “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. The night before Peter was to be placed on trial. But all the time he thought it was a vision. (Acts 12:6–9 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 29 . “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” the angel ordered. “Now put on your coat and follow me. Suddenly. So Peter left the cell. fastened with two chains between two soldiers. and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. Others stood guard at the prison gate. following the angel.” And he did. he was asleep. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said.

(Acts 14:19–20 nlt) 30 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . But as the believers gathered around him. thinking he was dead. he got up and went back into the town. Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

insisting they were mere men like all the locals. chang- ing the world forever. something to convince him his sufferings were worth it. and Paul—Hermes. no doubt. Not only that. A person did not walk away from a stoning. In fact. Barnabas. and beyond. They thought they were done with him and. You would be in utter disbelief. The Jews were jealous. Stoning was not a reprimand. at Lystra. stoning was the death penalty. the Roman Empire. is that God used Paul. One thing of which we are certain. It was the first-century Jewish equivalent to the electric chair. with Barnabas as well. he went right back into Lystra. winning converts but also en- gendering strong opposition. The people that had just been ready to deify him stoned Paul and dragged his body outside the town limits. though. and their power over these people. yet Paul did. We don’t know that for sure. Barnabas and Paul were grieved. God knew how much more He was going to demand of His servant. Paul and his faithful ministry partner Barnabas had been preaching the good news of Jesus throughout the region of Galatia. seeing these men as a serious threat to their belief system. their livelihood. Can you imagine the reaction he must have received? How that resurrection happened is not explained in the text. so perhaps He let Paul have a glimpse of what awaited him at the end of his earthly journey. Yet the apostle Paul survived an execution in the town of Lystra. They somehow won the crowd over. when God used Paul to heal a crippled man. Some New Testament scholars believe this may have been the time God raised him up to heaven and gave him his spectacular vi- sion (2 Corinthians 12:1–4). Paul Survives Capital Punishment Acts 14:19–20 Imagine seeing someone who has just been executed get up and go on his way. but it seems clear that God did a supernatural act on Paul’s behalf by bringing him back to life. A person simply does not survive an execution. and perhaps more than a little afraid. the local people became convinced the two men must be gods: Barnabas—Zeus. Amazing Occurrences | 31 . and the rest of the apostles to preach the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean world.

32 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . surrounded by other prisoners in a filthy jail cell. however. He assumed the prisoners had escaped. That very night the jailer and his entire family believed the Gospel and were baptized—undoubtedly the most beneficial aftershock in history. and the prison was shaken to its foundations. So when Paul cast the demon out of the poor girl. understandably overwhelmed by the experience. is exactly what Paul and Silas did as they sat in the dungeon in the city of Philippi. stripped and beaten in front of an angry mob. so he drew his sword to kill himself. there was a massive earthquake. ‘Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!’” (v. and restrained with their feet in stocks—a rather unlikely setting for a praise and prayer service. Along the way. fear. Paul and Silas had come to Philippi in order to preach the Gospel of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Christ alone. put in jail. But Paul shouted to him. Probably none of them had ever heard anything quite like that under those circumstances. They were beaten. along with everyone in your household” (v. the girl’s owners did not wish to see her made whole since her fortune-telling was a source of income for them. 30 nlt). As horrifying as that was. however. indignation. and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. As they were singing. asked Paul and Silas the all-important question: “Sirs. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. wouldn’t you say? And yet that’s exactly what they were doing at midnight: praying and sing- ing as the other inmates listened in. they had encountered a slave girl who was possessed by a demon. 28 nlt) The jailer. how would you respond? With anger. 31 nlt). and thrown unceremoniously into the local jail. 19 nlt). That. what must I do to be saved?” (v. All the doors immediately flew open. They “grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace” (v. Luke writes: “Suddenly.Paul and Silas Sing in Prison Acts 16:25–34 If you were arrested on a bogus charge. her masters were enraged. Paul and Silas told him. however. or despair? How about singing? Most of us would probably not feel like singing hymns of praise as we nursed our wounds.

and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted to him. and the prison was shaken to its foundations. “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!” (Acts 16:25–28 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 33 . All the doors immediately flew open. so he drew his sword to kill himself. there was a massive earthquake. and the other prisoners were listening. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. Suddenly.

Luke. became very drowsy. He rushed to the side of the lifeless young man. Unfortunately for him. a long sermon that kept getting longer and longer. he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below. bent over him. Finally. God restored him to life. sitting on the windowsill. You can just picture what happened: a late night. As Paul spoke on and on. He died on impact. we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul resumed speaking till dawn. That’s what happened to a young man named Eutychus as he listened to the apostle Paul preach a long sermon late one night in the Macedonian town of Troas. Paul went down. picked him up.” he said. Luke doesn’t tell us. but presumably no one else fell asleep while he spoke. he was sitting on a windowsill three stories up. and miraculously. Most. The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. the preacher was no ordinary pastor but the apostle Paul. Paul was preaching to them. “he’s alive!” (Acts 20:7–10 nlt) 34 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . the writer of Acts (and also a physician—Colossians 4:14) was an eyewitness to the event. “Don’t worry. Fortunately for him. The result was not surprising: Eutychus fell asleep and fell out of the window. and since he was leaving the next day. Amazingly. don’t do it sitting in a windowsill three stories above the ground and fall to their deaths. The poor young man could not keep his eyes open any longer. flickering lamps. Then Eutychus went back upstairs with Paul and the others where they celebrated the Lord’s Supper and ate a meal together. a young man named Eutychus. he kept talking until midnight. or at least not while sitting in the windowsill.  On the first day of the week. and took him into his arms.Eutychus Is Brought Back to Life Acts 20:7–12 Lots of people fall asleep in church. however.

bit him on the hand. (Acts 28:3–6 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 35 . They believed the snake had been sent to punish this criminal. The local inhabitants treated them kindly. Paul Shakes Off a Deadly Snake Acts 28:3–6 Paul would be forgiven if he sometimes wondered whether he had a black cloud over his head that followed him wherever he went. God asked a great deal of his choice servant. building a fire to warm them after their harrowing arrival onshore. just as he and Barnabas did in Lystra when the people believed them to be gods (Acts 14:8–18). They changed their minds when they saw that he was completely unharmed and even decided he was a god.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. Paul gathered wood for the fire. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed. only to be bitten by a poisonous snake. The text does not tell us. but we can be confident Paul disabused them of that notion. they changed their minds and decided he was a god. no doubt! Though he escaped the sea. but he also gave him the courage and the grace to meet these ordeals head-on and not only persevere but triumph. justice had found Paul. The locals saw this and decided that even though he’d escaped the sea. Paul survived the snakebite as he had so many other life-threatening events. a poisonous snake. a sort of divine earthly retribution. driven out by the heat. “A murderer.  As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire. He had survived the shipwreck off of Malta and reached land along with his companions. justice will not permit him to live. Ever the servant. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other.

soldiers. intending to make their way to Rome where Paul was to stand trial. to the trials before the governing authorities (Acts 21–26). 10 nlt). just as Paul said. and prisoners all had to abandon ship off the shore of Malta. as he requested. including Paul. to the mysterious affliction he called his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10). Fierce winds battered the ship. What would he know? What he knew was that the voyage was destined to end badly: “‘Men. He would continue to endure hardship and glorify God through his trials for several years to come. 36 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . All survived. Paul warned against it. After all. also on Crete. loss of cargo. but the ship’s captain disregarded his advice.Paul Survives a Shipwreck Acts 27:1–44 Trouble seemed to follow Paul wherever he went. and danger to our lives as well’” (v. On his way to stand trial in Rome. although his days of living dangerously were far from over. with exactly the results he predicted. “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on— shipwreck. before Caesar (Acts 25:11). Paul’s was not an easy life. And end badly it did. not a sailor. he even had to contend with and survive a shipwreck. From the sufferings inflicted by other men (2 Corinthians 11:23–29). Paul and company set sail from Caesarea in Judea on the Mediterranean coast. The crew. they attempted a dangerous late autumn journey to a safer harbor at Phoenix.’ he said. Paul was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3). Leaving the town of Fair Haven on the island of Crete.

. 42–44 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 37 . (Acts 27:30–32. they lowered the lifeboat as though they were going to put out anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the commanding officer and the soldiers. “You will all die unless the sailors stay aboard. But the commanding officer wanted to spare Paul. So everyone escaped safely to shore. . . Then the sailors tried to abandon the ship.” So the soldiers cut the ropes to the lifeboat and let it drift away. Then he ordered all who could swim to jump overboard first and make for land. The soldiers wanted to kill the prisoners to make sure they didn’t swim ashore and escape. The others held on to planks or debris from the broken ship. so he didn’t let them carry out their plan.

38 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .

 . the birth of a nation. you’ll find a world created. In these stories. God’s rescue of his people Israel. Many are turning points in redemptive history. the first sin and its aftermath. what would you come up with? Creation? The Flood? Jesus’ birth? These events are significant because they shaped or changed the course of human history. Big Events I f someone were to ask you to list the major events discussed in the Bible. On the following pages we’ve listed the key events in the Bible and where you can find them. and the birth of a Savior—God’s solution to the problem of sin.

40 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . disagreement. Is there any evidence that supports the Bible’s teaching of divine creation? Consider: „„ The angle of the earth. That’s because they’re not merely poetic. if earth were slightly closer to or farther from the sun. Either we were placed here intentionally by our Creator. and outright arguments through the years. the resulting temperature changes would be too extreme to support life.God Creates the Universe Genesis 1—2 These ten words (seven in the original Hebrew language) have caused a great deal of discussion. „„ The position of the earth. the resulting changes in temperature would be so extreme that life as we know it could not exist. or we are simply random conglomerations of molecules thrown together by time and chance. they make a huge statement about life on this planet. Similarly. If the angle of the earth was tilted slightly in either direction.

If the moon were 50. human life would not be possible.000 miles away from the earth instead of 200. Even the mountains would erode. „„ Earth’s atmosphere. If water didn’t have this unique property. All sea life would die. however. the ocean tides would be so enormous that all the continents would be submerged. when water freezes.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.000 miles. the rate of the expansion of the universe from the moment of creation on. (Genesis 1:1 nlt) Big Events | 41 . it expands and floats. Other critical factors such as the precise strength of the force of gravity. Any of the above events could have just happened. seems a lot more reasonable. „„ Water. the exact balance of the electrical force. and the uniformity of the universe in all directions show the need for precise calibration. it seems that the universe was designed to support human life. lakes and rivers would freeze in cold weather all the way down to the bottom. Unlike most other substances. none of us would be around to breathe it. accepting the truth of Genesis 1:1. „„ The moon. If the ratio of carbon to oxygen in the atmosphere had been slightly different. So. Without it.

God gave the first couple some very simple instructions when He placed them in Eden. Sin caused enmity between God and humans. God would have been entirely justified if He had simply wiped His hands clean of the whole human experiment. between human beings. and even between humans and nature. decay. and death. sin entered the world. green yard reading: Keep Off the Grass. and avoid eating the fruit of one tree in the middle of the gar- den. when you read a sign posted at the edge of a lush. right? But our original parents couldn’t do it. H e made a way to 42 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Sounds simple enough. though. Before we judge Adam and Eve too harshly. isn’t your impulse to put at least one foot in the for- bidden area? That’s what hap- pened first with Eve and then Adam. They were to tend the earth. But He didn’t. plunging the world into ruin and misery. Instead. they disobeyed. We have reaped the consequences of their disobedience to this day. This is known as the Fall. the experience of Adam and Eve in the garden sheds a different light on that theory.Adam and Eve Disobey God Genesis 3:1–19 While some might believe that humans are basically good. right? Or. and with it came disease. consider this: What happens when you see a sign that reads: Wet Paint? You want to touch it and see if it really is wet. reproduce other little image-bearers of God. At the Fall. In- stead.

for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man. He will strike your head. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness.undo the damage. caused death to rule over many. Verse 15 hints at that way when God says He will send one of Eve’s descendants to crush the head of the serpent who deceived her." As devastating and far-reaching as the effects of the Fall are. and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15 nlt) Big Events | 43 . Adam. and between your offspring and her offspring. Jesus Christ.  I will cause hostility between you and the woman. Romans 5:17 (nlt) spells out: "For the sin of this one man. What Genesis 3:15 hints at. the impact of the cross is even greater.

But I will confirm my covenant with you.” (Genesis 6:17–19 nlt) 44 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . It broke his heart” (Gen. “So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. So enter the boat—you and your wife and your sons and their wives. hatred. Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood. corruption. ever wish you could take a fire hose to scrub your town clean and just start all over? Believe it or not. So God decided to scrub the  “Look! I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes.A Flood Covers the Earth Genesis 6—9 While watching or listening to the stories of violence. Everything on earth will die. 6:6 nlt). that’s how God felt in an earlier epoch of human his- tory. and heartbreak on your local news.

it has no bearing on the veracity (or lack thereof) of any one Flood narrative. The vast majority of them tell of a survivor or small band of survivors living through the ordeal by taking refuge in some kind of boat. of course. as to why the submersion of the earth is such a universal tale. God then used them to repopulate the earth. Genesis 6–9 recounts the story of the great flood and of Noah and his family who.world clean of evil and the people who caused it. That doesn’t mean the biblical account is true and the others false or vice versa. Big Events | 45 . Unless. were the only ones who survived. But it does raise the question. it’s true. In fact. for those who wish to dismiss all such stories as merely ancient myths. Virtually every major religion has some account of a catastrophic flood. thanks to God’s grace.

The city. is known to us as Babel (v. The consequence they feared was the result: the people scattered. but this city and tower were built to be monuments to human ego and ambition. At this point in history. The builders intended this project to be a great achievement. “Come. But in Bible times. because they’re usually the biggest things on the horizon. 9). along with its tower. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world. people spoke with one language. near Babylon (present-day Baghdad. You can’t help looking. they decided to build a city and a tower built on the plains of Shinar.The Tower of Babel Is Built Genesis 11:1–9 Skyscrapers are always eye-catching.  Then they said. one “skyscraper” caught God’s attention in a negative way. The result was a city and a great tower—a stepped ziggurat “that reached into the sky” (v. let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. Iraq). Certainly nothing is wrong with that in itself. Because of this unity. 4 nlt). But God put a halt to the whole undertaking by confusing their speech. The method of building was cutting-edge for the time: fire-hardened bricks with tar with for mortar.” (Genesis 11:4 nlt) 46 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Babel meant “gate of god” to the Babylonians and represented the efforts of humanity to accomplish great things without regard to their Creator.

and everyone else in the world “that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 7:3–5 nlt) Big Events | 47 . the frog goddess. God Sends Plagues on Egypt Exodus 7:1—12:36 When the Israelite population increased in Egypt. In order to prove to the Israelites. The God of Israel had made His point. God used a special form of persuasion: ten plagues. Bat. the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord. locusts.” God had to show His superiority over Egypt’s alleged gods. the cow goddess. Knowing that Pharaoh would refuse. huh? Yet the plagues were not an attack against the people. etc. Then I will rescue my forces—my people. Anuket. The first salvo was turning the waters of the Nile to blood. hailstones. So I will bring down my fist on Egypt. Although the Egyptian magicians proclaimed their ability to duplicate this act by the power of their god. Any careful reader of the account of the plagues God sent on the land of Egypt (Exodus 7–12) may well be tempted to ask. but against the gods they worshipped.  “I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. “Why did God do all those terrible things to the Egyptians?” Perhaps you have asked that question yourself or wondered why there was a plague of lice. Seems a bit random. By the time of Moses. Hapi. Besides Ra. there was Osiris. the fearful pharaoh en- slaved them to keep them under control. the Egyptians. When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites. the goddess of the Nile. the lord of the dead. Heget. the Israelites—from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. the sun god. Egypt boasted a large pantheon of gods. darkness. But the worst plague of all was yet to come. the god of the Nile. God sent Moses to Pharaoh to command him to let the people go. the people of Israel had been enslaved for over four centuries. Even then Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you. they could not duplicate any of the other plagues. Exodus 7:3-5 (below) is almost a declaration of war. and many others.

Pharaoh stubbornly refused. one celebrated every year in remembrance of God’s miraculous deliverance of His people. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt. the Jewish calendar was permanently changed. Passover is still celebrated every year by people around the world. They had to sprinkle the blood of an unblemished lamb over the lintels and doorposts of their homes. The hope for the future. Through Moses. When I see the blood. During the meal they were to be dressed as if ready to leave immediately. God used nine plagues (Exodus 7–11) to warn Pharaoh to heed God’s com- mand to free the people of Israel from enslavement. (Exodus 12:12–13) 48 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .  On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. as symbolized by the firstborn sons. His death causes eternal death and separation from God to pass over those who trust Him. was now gone. for I am the Lord! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign. The tenth plague—the death of all firstborn sons. Because of this deliverance.The First Passover Is Celebrated Exodus 12:1–30 What does it take for God to get your attention? A catastrophe? Something amazing? God gained the pharaoh of Egypt’s attention through a series of catastrophes. Despite the damage and pain those catastrophes inflicted on the Egyptian people. marking the houses where you are staying. sparing them from the death angel. including livestock—was the most devastating of all. hence the name Passover. They were to eat the sacrificed lamb and unleavened bread (bread without yeast) and bitter herbs. So God dramati- cally raised the stakes. In the New Testament. Jesus is described as a Passover Lamb sacrificed for the sins of all (1 Corinthians 5:7). This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt. God gave His people instructions to keep this plague from befalling their households. The Passover became a permanent festival. I will pass over you. This was the sign for the Lord to “pass over” those houses.

Pharaoh changed his mind and went in pursuit with a well-trained army and six hundred chariots. you see a bad situation and a worse one ahead. none of Pharaoh’s crack soldiers did. God saved His people in a way that only He could. Imagine facing a crack army on one side and crashing waves on the other. If so. turning the seabed into dry land. While they survived. The wind blew all that night. God Parts the Red Sea Exodus 14:21–31 Have you ever been in a situation where you felt between a rock and a hard place as the proverbial saying goes? Looking back. was at least a half mile wide. They couldn’t fathom a third option: that God had a plan. you have some idea how the people of Israel felt as they stood on the shore of the Red Sea. The point of the Red Sea.  Then Moses raised his hand over the sea. This demonstration at the Red Sea showed God’s power to overcome even a situation between a rock and a hard place. The people of Israel numbered around two mil- lion and had only one night to make the trip. which scholars conjecture might have been around the Gulf of Suez. After agreeing to let the Israelites go. He parted the waters and caused the Israelites to pass through safely. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground. and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. Using the wind. with walls of water on each side! (Exodus 14:21–22) Big Events | 49 . The people of Israel reacted in an all too human ways: panic and grumbling.

He was eager to bless obedience but also willing to punish disobedience. . hoping to please God—and fearing the consequences if they didn’t—the Law provided the following three benefits. you probably have some image in your mind as to how it would have looked to an observer. and so forth. „„ Revealed God’s holiness. the place of your slavery. In the Bible it was a blood oath broken on penalty of death. When they failed.” (Exodus 20:1–3 nlt) 50 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . set aside one day in seven to worship Him. The people of Israel would need God’s covenant guidance. who rescued you from the land of Egypt.God Gives the Ten Commandments Exodus 19—20 You’ve probably seen the old Cecil B. just. What often gets overlooked is that the giving of the Ten Commandments (often simply called “the Law”) was part of a covenant ratification process between God and the people of Israel. You must not have any other god but me. compas- sionate. While the consequence was serious. powerful. „„ Showed their need for God. „„ Outlined righteous behavior. DeMille movie The Ten Commandments or some other representation of the episode between God and Moses on Mount Sinai. the Law pointed out their inability to “be holy because I. hence the need for God’s grace through Christ. they would need God’s help to be restored to a right relationship with him. and so forth. Rather than leaving them to cast about on their own. am holy” (Leviticus 19:1 nlt)—and thus their need for God to do for them what they were unable to do for themselves. treat one another with dignity and compassion. It. God was holy. Ultimately. Even if you haven’t. God expected His people to honor Him above all others. Whatever it actually looked like. it must have been an awe-inspiring encounter. . blessing. A covenant was and is an agreement between two parties.  Then God gave the people all these instructions: “I am the Lord your God. this covenant one also was beneficial for Israel. the Lord your God. The Law revealed God’s standard of behavior. which they would do continually. respect their parents. and protection forever.

Some attribute this to seismic activity. the land God promised them. Those who believe the Bible know differently. and so on. they shouted as loud as they could. (Joshua 6:20 nlt) Big Events | 51 . Joshua 6 reveals characteristics of God’s personality few like to think about: His wrath and judgment. This chapter describes the unorthodox military strategy Joshua and the people employed to conquer the city of Jericho. and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. its walls collapsed inward. The biggest obstacle was fact that the land was already populated. Suddenly. forgive- ness.  When the people heard the sound of the rams᾿ horns. The Walls of Jericho Fall Joshua 6 People who believe in God love to talk about His love. was indeed de- stroyed suddenly around 1400 bc. which has been thoroughly excavated. Instead of being armed with swords and a battering ram. the people marched in silence around the city once a day for six days and seven on the seventh day. Another unorthodox strategy involved Rahab. Because she hid the spies Joshua sent on reconnaissance and showed a willingness to believe in the God of Israel. a prostitute who lived in Jericho and played a huge part in the victory at Jericho. her family was preserved and she gained a place in the family line of Jesus (see Matthew 1:5). The people of Israel were in the early stages of entering Canaan. the walls of Jericho collapsed. mercy. In recent years numerous scholars have concluded that Jericho. while the priests carried the ark of the covenant.

and that failure. Delilah’s incessant nagging gained her Samson’s secret: he never cut his hair. After Samson prayed. He died a hero. Samson was to be a lifelong Nazirite. The need for judges can be seen in a refrain found throughout the book of Judges: “The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord” (Judges 3:7). does not have to be our final legacy. God told his parents that Samson had a special purpose: he would be the instrument to deliver his people from the Phi- listines. Before Samson was born. however. Forced by the Philistine lead- ers to discover the secret of Samson’s strength. they had judges—specially chosen deliv- erers. Samson lived in the first half of the eleventh century bc. his strength returned. Even Samson’s mother was forbidden to drink wine while pregnant. Her betrayal cost Samson his freedom and his eyesight. After the death of Joshua. This was the era before Israel had kings. Samson’s hair grew along with a sense of contrition. Instead. doesn’t end there. His last act brought down the house—literally—on three thousand Philistines. Thus began a vicious cycle: their idol worship caused God to allow their en- emies to conquer them. 52 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . the people of Israel turned to the idols of other nations. The story. their cries for help led God to choose a judge to deliver them from their enemies. no matter how great or significant. his lack of moral discernment led to his downfall. Samson’s story is a great reminder that God gives second chances. While he had some victories over the Philistines (Judges 14–15). We shake our heads at how such promise was eclipsed. Gloating Philistines sought to put him on display in their temple. While in captivity. and others who came to a bad end. starting with his involvement with Delilah.Samson Brings Down the House Judges 16:22–31 The news stories are full of gifted athletes. Yet they forgot God time and time again and the cycle continued. a prostitute from the Valley of Sorek. Samson grew up and became a judge known for amazing physical strength. He wound up in a Philistine dungeon. the godly leader who succeeded Moses. a Hebrew word that means “dedicated. actors.” Individuals who took the Nazirite vow did not cut their hair or drink wine. Samson’s story is sadly similar.

Pushing against them with both hands. he prayed. “Let me die with the Philistines. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime. Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. (Judges 16:29–30 nlt) Big Events | 53 .

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. “You come to me with sword. fight-to-the-death contests between champions is extremely rare in the Old Testament. But when that challenge included an insult against the God of Israel. but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel. The stone sank in. While single-combat. (1 Samuel 17:45. But he had a secret weapon: the strength of God. it was common among the surrounding peoples. Israel couldn’t get the better of them. David quickly ran out to meet him. and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground. and javelin. but what typically happened in such cases was that the other army would send out their “champion. David reacted. thanks to their champion. a giant of a man. A new champion was born: David. That secret weapon turned the tide of the battle. One thrown rock later. During the time when Saul. spear. While David’s older brother Eliab scoffed and Saul tried to offer his own armor. he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone. As Goliath moved closer to attack.  David replied to the Philistine.” . the Israelite army was plagued by the army of the Philistines. whom you have defied. Israel’s first king was in power. But the real champion was God. the giant Goliath was cut down to size. King Saul was just as intimidated by Goliath as everyone else—everyone but David—a mere youth unlikely to succeed where trained soldiers failed. presumably.” That man. He was nine feet tall and had a coat of mail weighing over one hundred pounds and a spear the head of which weighed fifteen pounds. David Defeats Goliath 1 Samuel 17 The story of David and Goliath is the ultimate underdog story. David went into battle with only one weapon: a slingshot and five stones. Goliath. 48–49 nlt) Big Events | 55 . So Goliath’s challenge to the Israelites (v. was Saul. David was a shepherd visiting his brothers on the battlefield when Goliath issued his challenge. . 8–10) was not unusual. Altogether he was very intimidating.

a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. the most magnificent building anyone had ever seen was Israel’s first temple. along with 22. the Most Holy Place. Noth- ing less than the spectacular would be good enough. the temple was to have three sections: the Holy Place. for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. Solomon executed the plan beginning in about 966 bc over a seven-year period. continuing through Moses. and an outer courtyard. Why did the temple need to be so opulent? Because it was to be a fitting location for the earthly dwelling place of the Lord Most High. and 30 feet wide and built from cedar trees of Tyre. 5:1–5). Despite the great growth and accomplishments of his people. But the most amazing sight of all was when the glory of God de- scended upon the temple. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud. which had been used for centuries. Like the tabernacle. It was 90 feet long. God had called the nation of Israel to be his covenant people.000 cattle. God himself was going to inhabit the Most Holy Place in the inner sanctuary.  When the priests came out of the Holy Place. 2 Chronicles 3–6 What’s the most magnificent building you’ve ever seen? The Taj Mahal in India? Museo Guggenheim in Spain? Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt? In ancient Bible times.Solomon Builds the Temple 1 Kings 6–8. At the temple dedication. Since David had already collected offerings from the people and work- ers to build the temple (1 Chronicles 22).000 sheep and goats were sacrificed. (1 Kings 8:10–11) 56 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Stones used to build the temple had to be chiseled off site by killed work- ers. beginning with Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3). Many of the temple furnishings were made of gold. they never had a permanent place in which to worship the Lord until King David came up with a plan to build one (2 Samuel 7:12–16). and reaching a culmination with the anointing of King David (2 Samuel 2:1–4. 120. The temple was built on the mountain where Abraham offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22). 45 feet high. But God told David that David’s son Solomon would be the one to build it.

He set before them a choice: worship Baal or worship Yahweh. then follow him!” But the people were completely silent. and issued this unforgettable challenge: “The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” (v. dancing and even cutting themselves trying to convince their god to answer the challenge but to no avail. he called for God to send down fire on the altar—further mocking Baal and his worshippers. Then Elijah stood in front of them and said. going so far as to suggest that perhaps Baal was away on a trip or asleep (v. hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God. (1 Kings 18:20–21) Big Events | 57 . Fire from heaven came down. lightning. 27). consuming the bull. and storms. follow him! But if Baal is God.  So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. He then set up an empirical test: he had a sacrificial altar set up with a bull for the offering. Elijah confronted Ahab and 450 prophets of the Canaanite god Baal and all of the people of Israel. “How much longer will you waver. 24 nlt) The prophets of Baal worked themselves into a frenzy. and even the water! Elijah had supreme confidence in God and His ability to assert His supremacy over all others. What do you do? Stand up for what you believe and risk alienating the others or stay quiet and feel as though you let God down? The prophet Elijah faced that question and an- swered it in a dramatic fashion. and suddenly the topic turns to religion. who reigned from 874–853 bc was king of Israel at the time and encouraged the people to worship Baal and Asherah—Canaanite gods worshipped by his wife Jezebel. After drenching the wood and the bull with water. Elijah mocked them. You feel that lump in your throat and a knot in your stom- ach. Elijah Defeats the Prophets of Baal 1 Kings 18:16–46 You’re having a conversation with a few friends. for Baal was believed to be the god of thunder. and their efforts. Ahab. their god. Then Elijah upped the ante. no straddling the fence. the altar. No middle ground.

 So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. Hanani. and others—opposed the work from its inception and made life very difficult for Nehemiah and company. along with permission to cut timber for the rebuilding effort. on the Persian Gulf. Ezra the scribe who wrote the book of Ezra returned at that point. Nehemiah’s brother. the wall repair project was completed in remarkably short time: fifty-two days. This was the period of Israel’s seventy-year exile predicted by many Old Testament prophets. The actual response. Horonites. the people were in danger from their enemies. Having been granted that permission. the capital city of Persia. was quite the opposite. Arabs. In 458 bc. Workers took to having a weapon in one hand and a building tool in another.Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem Nehemiah 1–6 In the spring of 445 bc. We might think such a proposal for urban renewal would meet with wide- spread local support. however. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed it back in 586 bc. starting with the walls. Nehemiah was the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes in Susa. But by the grace of God and the perseverance of the workers. Instead of wringing his hands. The people in the surrounding area—Ammonites. Without the protection of the walls. Tobiah. Nehemiah prayed first then asked the king for permission to travel to Jerusalem and begin repair work on the city. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. Samaritans and other enemies attacked it and burned the walls. The Bible lists individuals like Sanballat. Geshem. came to Nehemiah with a report about Jerusalem and the state of their people. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it. he set to work. they were frightened and humiliated. (Nehemiah 6:15–16 nlt) 58 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Some of Nehemiah’s people—the people of Israel—returned home to Jerusalem. and the others who tried every way they dared to undermine the wall-building efforts. The city was in a sorry state of affairs.

whose given name was Hadassah. you can feel isolated or even an outcast. He warned that even if she remained silent she wasn’t necessarily safe. a new holiday was born—Purim. Xerxes made a decree allowing the genocide. “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (4:14 nlt) Queen Esther stepped up. she saved her people. By God’s grace. but you and your relatives will die. he urged. taking her life in her hands and intervening with the king on behalf of her people. If you keep quiet at a time like this. regardless of the risks. Esther. She decided. The originator of this plot was Haman. Besides. on the advice of her older cousin Mordecai. one of the king’s officials who wanted revenge against Mordecai for Mordecai’s refusal to pay homage to Haman even when ordered to do so by a royal decree. deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place. What choice would you have made? Mordecai encouraged Esther to act on behalf of her people. classroom. After Xerxes’s wife Vashti disobeyed his command to appear before him at a banquet. Esther Defeats Haman Esther 4–7 Have you ever been in the uncomfortable position of being the only person with bibli- cal values and principles in your workplace. not to reveal her ethnicity to the king.  Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. military unit. was a beautiful young woman who caught the eye of King Xerxes. Esther was chosen over many others to be queen. or even home? When- ever a situation arises that involves moral or ethical tension. Because the proposed genocide was overturned. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14 nlt) Big Events | 59 . Her heritage remained secret until a plot was developed to exterminate all the Jews in Persia. a Persian king in the late fifth or early fourth century. Esther found herself in the difficult position of having either to go along with a royal decree that would result in genocide or to speak out against it to the king. Appearing before the king without being summoned was an offense punishable by death.

the God whom we serve is able to save us. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace. But even if he doesn’t. we do not need to defend ourselves before you.” (Daniel 3:16–18 nlt) 60 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . He will rescue us from your power. we want to make it clear to you. Your Majesty. Your Majesty. that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.  “O Nebuchadnezzar.

A furious Nebuchadnezzar gave the three yet another chance to submit to the edict. Disobedience of this law earned a person a one-way trip to the fiery furnace. however. Also like Daniel. The flames were so hot. the people who placed them there were instantly killed. When Nebuchadnezzar commissioned the building of a ninety-foot tall golden statue. Yet Shadrach. Meshach. What it does say is that God proved Himself faithful to those who put their faith in Him. they were considered exceptional and were quickly grafted into the king’s court. but they had company in the furnace. and Abednego for their failure to worship the golden statue. and Abednego were among the captives taken from Israel when the army of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jeru- salem in 605 bc. Daniel’s Friends Survive a Fiery Furnace Daniel 3 If you were given this choice—worship an idol or be put to death—what would you choose? Shadrach. Their answer stoked Nebuchadnezzar’s anger and pride. he also made a decree that the statue be worshipped when- ever certain musical notes were played. is one of the most stunning examples of faith in the Bible. Like their friend Daniel. Meshach. Their refusal. Often those in power make enemies. and Abednego faced this choice. the Bible does not say. The three were thrown into the furnace. Meshach. Whether this was God or an angel sent from God. they refused to compromise their beliefs. Shadrach. quoted above. A group of astrologers were quick to denounce Shadrach. Big Events | 61 . Meshach. and Abednego not only survived.

In this chapter. His excellence. At this point. was his habit of praying three times a day! They convinced Darius to set up a law against praying to anyone but the king. The same could not be said for the envious advisers on the following day when Daniel was discovered alive. The laws of the Medes and the Persians could not be repealed.” (Daniel 6:16 nlt) 62 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . “May your God. the king of the Medes and the Persians. The king said to him. Meshach. Daniel was about eighty years old and was now among the advisers of Darius. rescue you. whom you serve so faithfully. The punishment for this crime involved being lowered into a den of hungry lions. While Darius changed his royal decree in favor of Daniel’s God.Daniel Is Thrown into the Lions’ Den Daniel 6 Have you ever been the victim of a plot to discredit you or force you out of your job? Ever been on the wrong side of an office power play? That’s what happened to Daniel in Daniel 6. Throughout his years of captivity. starting with Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon in sixth century bc. Daniel was a God-fearing Jew serving as a high-ranking adviser to a suc- cession of kings. he prayed in a place where passersby could see him at prayer. led envious colleagues to conspire against him to discredit him. and Abednego and many of the people of Israel had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. In fact. however. But God rewarded his faithfulness with a miracle: the lions never touched him. The only dirt they could dig up on him. Daniel and his friends Shadrach.  So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. however. Daniel saw the fall of the Babylonians and the rise of the combined kingdom of the Medes and Persians. would you have stopped praying? Daniel didn’t. His faithfulness led to his being thrown into the lions’ den. Daniel’s accusers and their families suffered the death they had plotted for Daniel.

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He preached the message of repentance as God had commanded. or at least his willingness to obey. The Assyrians were a brutal people and enemies of Israel. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are. and preach there. and resurrection (Matthew 12:39–40). For Jonah to go to tell them they needed to turn from their sins and to God was beyond his comprehension. the storm ended. but he was hoping that it would fall on deaf ears. Jonah was highly distraught over it. Jonah knew that he had been cornered. imagine God tells you in no uncertain terms that you are to go tell that person to repent and turn to the Lord. Jonah was a reluctant servant.  The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. The Bible does not say that the fish sent to swallow Jonah was a whale. Jonah took the first boat going in the opposite direction—to Tarshish. Instead of heading to Nineveh. But we’re told that a fish big enough to swallow Jonah whole appeared on the scene. Now. burial. But he couldn’t outrun God or God’s commission. Jesus later used Jonah’s experience to proclaim His upcoming death. After the sailors threw him into the sea at his request.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. Jonah Is Swallowed by a Great Fish Jonah 1:1–2:10 Think of the person with whom you have the hardest time getting along. Yet. the capital city of Assyria. (Jonah 1:1–3 nlt) Big Events | 65 . Jonah remained in the fish for three days and nights. Jonah’s book shows the Lord to be merciful and compassionate. even after his ordeal in the belly of the fish. In 722 bc.000 and that’s how Jonah felt when God told him to go to Nineveh. the As- syrians destroyed Samaria. When a sudden squall threatened the safety of the ship and the sailors cast lots to see who was responsible for it. When his message led to mass conversion and revival. How do you feel about it? Multiply that by about 120. the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.

” for all its sentimental overtones. Joseph was a carpenter (Matthew 13:55). Joseph and Mary. who had grown up to be the greatest king in Israel’s history. but his family heritage did not entitle him to any real advantages or privileges. Mary would have been a teenager. and a star that shined overhead. wise men (see article “The Wise Men Follow a Star” on page 68). Yet the birth of Jesus had. far greater significance than all the other royal births in history put together. different cultures: „„ A  twenty-one- cannon salute (Morocco) „„ E  laborate rituals (India) „„ I ntricate naming ceremonies (Japan) „„ Car horns blaring. Bethlehem was even smaller than Nazareth. Its population at the time of Jesus’ birth was from three hundred to perhaps one thousand. to spend his first night outside his mother’s womb. champagne corks popping (England) You would expect something amazing to happen at the birth of the Son of God. and has. just a small village on the road into Jerusalem. but shepherds. and the ones who turned up at the stable that night would not have been mistaken for royalty. Yes. They traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus had ordered a census update (Luke 2:1–3). were neither wealthy nor prestigious. 66 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Yet this event took place under far humbler circumstances. a descendant of King David (Luke 1:27). Shepherds weren’t held in any higher esteem then than now.Jesus Is Born Luke 2:1–20 Royal births are celebrated in various ways in differ- ent countries. but Jesus’ birth was not accompanied by any of the normal trappings of a royal birth. He was born to an ordinary Jewish couple. Jesus was born in a stable. Its only real notoriety was that it was the hometown of a young shepherd named David. A “manger. much less this one. Because the lone “inn” was full. perhaps a young one at the time of her engagement. there were angels. is just an animal feeding trough—an unusual place for any newborn. or Yosef and Miriam as they would have been known in Nazareth. Jesus’ first visitors weren’t local or foreign dignitaries or even family members. We don’t know a lot about them.

but the angel reassured them. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. . the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem. . . because there was no lodging available for them. and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. a son. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. the city of David!” (Luke 2:7. the Messiah. 9–11 nlt) Big Events | 67 . The Savior—yes. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger. Suddenly. an angel of the Lord appeared among them. They were terrified. She gave birth to her first child.

Matthew quotes. A gift for His humanity. and we don’t know how many there were. kings from the East. from which the Gospel writer. frankincense. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold. A gift offered to royalty. The wise men weren’t the only ones for whom the Incarnation of the Son of God was costly. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. This genocide was predicted in Jeremiah 31. and their names were Caspar. and myrrh. followed a star to the manger the night Jesus was born. Mary” (Matthew 2:11 nlt). They came later.  After this interview the wise men went their way. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.” and Jesus was a “child. translated “wise men.” not a “baby. and they bowed down and worshiped him. As befits Jesus’ status as the Son of God. courageous. „„ M  yrrh. who were skilled astronomers and members of a priestly caste from Persia (present-day Iran). right? Contrary to the old Christmas carol. Mary.The Wise Men Follow a Star Matthew 2:1–12 You’ve heard that three wise men.” Their gifts are significant: „„ G  old. The Bible doesn’t say they came to visit the baby Jesus at the stable the night He was born. When they saw the star.” comes from the same root from which we get magic and magician.” Verse 11 nlt also says “they bowed down and worshipped him. Later in Matthew 2 we’re told that Herod decreed that all baby boys up to two years of age were to be put to death. Note that Jesus and Mary were in a house. and Melchior.” the wise men (Matthew 2:1–12) were not kings. „„ I ncense. but the Bible doesn’t say any of that. they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother. frankincense. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold. rather than a “stable. Incense is a biblical symbol for prayer. As the Son of David. Scholars believe these men were industrious. Myrrh is a spice used to prepare a body for burial. truth-seeking pagans. and myrrh. Balthazar. The word magoi. as much as two years later: “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother. Jesus was born King of the Jews. Legend says these “kings” were three. (Matthew 2:9–11 nlt) 68 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . “We Three Kings.

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Such directness was characteristic of John. the angel Gabriel was sent to announce the birth of the Savior (Luke 1:16). John’s mission in life was to prepare the way for the Savior. Zechariah (Luke 1:5–20). though he failed to live up to his potential. The Pharisees saw some things in John that made them want to ask if he was indeed that man. and I must become less and less” (John 3:30 nlt). what right do you have to baptize?” John told them. Malachi. he boldly proclaimed it and baptized those who repented. Instead. I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal. 20 nlt). But instead of growing up to perform feats of wonder.John the Baptist Preaches in the Wilderness John 1:19–28 If you heard that an angel announced the upcoming birth of someone.  Then the Pharisees who had been sent asked him. He understood that his life was not about him. but about Jesus: “He must become greater and greater. An “angel of the Lord” (Judges 13:3) announced the birth of Samson. John lived in the wilderness and ate locusts and honey. but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. He didn’t sugarcoat his message of repentance.” (John 1:24–27 nlt) 70 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . “If you aren’t the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet. “He came right out and said. “I baptize with water. Though his ministry follows mine. John was the Elijah-like forerunner whose coming was predicted by the last of the Old Testament prophets. John’s birth also had been announced by Gabriel to John’s father. who was also a close relative. ‘I am not the Messiah’” (v. what would you think? That this person would grow up to do great things? After all.

Anyone who believes in me will live.  Jesus told her. He had more than just healing in mind as He proved shortly afterward. asked him to come and heal their gravely ill brother Lazarus. Mary and Martha. But it proved once and for all that noth- ing was beyond Jesus. 21 nlt) was answered. “Lord. Jesus prayed. Even while his tears expressed His grief. when Jesus delayed His arrival until after Lazarus died. Lazarus Is Raised from the Dead John 11:1–44 Jesus was known for his amazing compas- sion. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. And it foreshadowed an event that would further change everything: His own resurrection. Jesus called for the stone in front of the tomb to be removed. come out!” The once dead Lazarus obeyed the command. But four days after Lazarus’s interment. Do you believe this. We aren’t told why Jesus delayed going back to Bethany for two more days after hearing the news of His friend’s illness and then death. Martha?” (John 11:25–26 nlt) Big Events | 71 . even after dying. my brother would not have died” (v. This miracle marked a turning point in Jesus’ ministry. the Pharisees sought to kill Him. if only you had been here. how- ever. Imagine how Mary and Martha felt. So when some of His closest friends. not with an excuse by Jesus but with the promise quoted above. Martha’s reproachful cry. From this point on. then spoke one command: “Lazarus. “I am the resurrection and the life. they expected Him to head over immediately. Jesus arrived. Ignoring the remarks of practical-minded Martha who reminded Him of the probable smell of decay.

people of Jerusalem. your King is coming. Now He called attention to Himself. For most of His public ministry.” (John 12:14–15 nlt) 72 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . no more secret. fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Don’t be afraid. The large crowd was really a convergence of the two crowds: the ones from Bethany who had seen or heard about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.Jesus Enters Jerusalem John 12:12–19 How would you expect a king to enter a city? You might expect public fanfare. They strew palm branches and cloaks at His feet and cried out “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Palms were a national symbol for the old covenant nation of Israel. The King had come. No more riddles. He even told His closest friends (and sometimes His enemies) over and over to not give away who He was or the nature of His mission. Zechariah’s words came true as Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem. and pilgrims flocking to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Look. riding on a donkey’s colt. veiling Himself. On a donkey’s colt he rode into town. But the King had come for one purpose: to die for the very people who would later trade the cry of “Praise God!” for “Crucify Him!”  Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it. perhaps a ticker tape parade and a motorcade many blocks long. The prophet Zechariah proclaimed that the Messiah—the long-awaited King in the fam- ily line of David—would enter the city riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9-11). Jesus avoided calling attention to Himself—what theologians call the messianic secret. parables.

the one observed in Egypt the night the Lord passed over the land and slew all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. and the night everything changed. which is given for you. The first Passover. Now Jesus had changed things radically. was ushered in with the sprinkling of the blood of an unblemished lamb (Exodus 12). calling for a new covenant. That is most decidedly not how that meal had been celebrated up till then. as it signaled the culmination of the older covenant and the inauguration of the new. So when Jesus deviated from the traditional order. Do this to remember me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples. It would be hard to think of a more radical departure from a more well-known observance. we remember the night an ancient tradition was observed in an upper room in Jerusalem. Every time Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper. “This is my body.” (Luke 22:19–20 nlt) Big Events | 73 . Jesus Has the Last Supper with His Disciples Luke 22:7–20 Passover is one of the oldest and most revered of all Jewish traditions. “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. But radical it had to be. dat- ing back to over fourteen hundred years before Jesus was born. Jesus wanted to celebrate the Passover with His disciples. it must have been shocking to them all. knowing that He was going to die soon. one that would be ushered in by the shedding of His blood.  He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. saying. Jesus’ disciples were no exceptions. Every Jew knows the Passover seder ritual by heart.

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Another man—Simon of Cyrene had to carry it for Him. demanding that He save Himself if He had the power. Then Jesus shouted. I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last. the sun eclipsed by the event tak- ing place. He had done what He came to do. The light from the sun was gone. Even one of the criminals next to Him mocked Him. Darkness fell over the land. “Father. All because one man gasped his last breath. A criminal was staked to a wooden pole and left to suf- focate to death. Die. Jesus stumbled under the weight of the cross beam He was forced to bear. Crucifixion. the Place of the Skull. When a jeering crowd had gathered to see their will done. the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. 34 nlt). forgive them. But the other believed that Jesus was all that He claimed to be and asked for a place in Jesus’ kingdom in paradise. At that moment. for they don’t know what they are doing” (v.  By this time it was noon. and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. I entrust my spirit into your hands!” (v. Jesus cried. At Golgotha. history was made and Old Testament prophecies fulfilled. 46 nlt). (Luke 23:44–46 nlt) Big Events | 75 . “Father. Jesus offered forgiveness. was one of the most brutal forms of death. “Father. And suddenly. The curtain in the temple separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place tore in two. Jesus was nailed to a cross and left to die between two criminals. After being arrested on trumped-up charges and whipped within an inch of His life. Jesus Is Crucified Luke 23:26–49 In the place known as Golgotha outside of the city of Jerusalem. a Roman method of execution. That man was Jesus.

man’s first step on the moon.  Then the angel spoke to the women. “I know you are looking for Jesus. So they brought the spices and perfumes they had prepared. Jesus stood before them in proof of the angel’s announcement. Before they could run and tell everyone. Before the amazed women could react. an earth- quake hit and an angel appeared. Just as the women arrived.” (Matthew 28:5–6 nlt) 76 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .Jesus Is Raised from the Dead Matthew 28:1–15 What are the most significant events of history? If you take a poll. or the birth of atomic energy. they didn’t have the opportunity to anoint His body for burial. The sound of that stone rolling back was the most significant sound ever heard. Mary the wife of Cleopas—went to the tomb of Jesus to prepare His body. because it came with the gladdest tidings of all time: Jesus was alive. But the most significant event took place on a Sunday morning in a graveyard. Many of the significant events of Jesus’ life were punctuated with the appearance of an angel or angels. who was crucified. While the guards stood there terrified. And soon His disciples could see for themselves the most amazing event in history. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead. Some of the women who had followed Jesus—Mary Magdalene. But God had other plans for them. Some might even go so far as to say the birth of Jesus. the angel rolled back the stone sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers. just as he said would happen. Come. some people might list the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Since He died on a Friday—the day before the Sabbath—and was buried immediately in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. see where his body was lying. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. the women could only rejoice. Life would never be the same again. The power of sin was forever broken. But that Sunday morning was anything but typical.

They would need that power for the task Jesus now gave them: to spread the good news about Jesus all over the world. at the annual Festival of Pentecost (Acts 2). and they could no longer see him. only to see Him again a short time later. There they received a wonderful promise: the Holy Spirit Himself would come upon them and empower them. That empower- ing would occur very shortly. Jesus gathered them together on the Mount of Olives. They received one more wonderful promise. but from two angels: Jesus would return someday the same way He left. (Acts 1:9 nlt) Big Events | 77 . saying good-bye is even more painful. As they stood watching Jesus ascend from earth to heaven. That’s how the apostles felt on the day of Jesus’ ascension. he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching. They already thought they had lost Him once. Just forty days after the resurrection. What would happen this time? This time the answer came not from Jesus. They would not know when but could be certain that He would keep this promise. although not from Jesus Himself. beginning right there in Jerusalem. they must have felt great sadness. Jesus Ascends to Heaven Acts 1:6–11 Good-byes are hard.  After saying this. aren’t they? When you know you won’t see that person again.

That promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. many nationalities. You can imagine their surprise when. enabling them to dramatically expand the church from a small handful of Galilean Jews to a much larger group of Jews of many. Pentecost was one of the three great annual Jewish feasts. In Old Testament times. there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm. as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. Now under the new covenant inaugurated by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Suddenly. spoken by men who had what looked like flames over their heads! The Holy Spirit came upon these believers in a special way that day. Jews from many different nations gathered in Jerusalem for this great event. fifty days after Passover. permanent way beginning at Pentecost. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages. (Acts 2:1–4 nlt) 78 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . The Holy Spirit had always been there into eternity past. Then.  On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. expecting to hear only Hebrew. they began hearing the message of Jesus in their own languages. when Jesus was crucified. All of a sudden all heard a sound like the wind. the Spirit came upon His people in a spe- cial.The Holy Spirit Comes Acts 2 Before Jesus' departure He promised His followers a companion: the Holy Spirit. He came upon His people in cer- tain ways at specific times. what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. and it filled the house where they were sitting.

Saul was an ardent follower of the law of Moses and persecutor of those who belonged to the Way—the followers of Jesus. who had been blind to the truth of Jesus. the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city. self-reliant religious leader. was now struck with blindness and had to be led by the hand into Damascus. a follower of Jesus. A bright light surrounded Saul. Stunned by grace: that was Saul’s experience. He had been present at the murder of the first Christian martyr.” (Acts 9:3–6 nlt) Big Events | 79 . He never got over his sense of wonder at what happened to him. a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. whom he considered to be a false messiah. Stephen (Acts 7). But the risen Jesus intercepted Saul in a dramatic way and changed his plans and his life. We can scarcely imagine the trauma he must have undergone—this proud. Saul Becomes a Follower of Jesus Acts 9:1–22 Imagine you have spent your whole life zealously following a way of life and suddenly find out you were radically mistaken. and you will be told what you must do. “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him. That’s what happened to Saul of Tarsus as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians. Now imagine you were sent to talk to the very person who had authorized the persecution of your fellow believers. And the voice replied. now totally at the mercy of others. He did not eat or drink for three days. he found a humble follower of Jesus. he heard a voice calling his name.  As he was approaching Damascus on this mission. who had also heard from his risen Savior. lord?” Saul asked. It’s interesting that Saul. As he fell to the ground. who would later become known as Paul. He placed his hands on Saul and with the power of God restored his sight. the world has never been the same either. Ananias. The speaker identified himself as the risen Jesus and ex- plained that Saul’s persecution of his followers was the same as persecuting him. Because of Saul. was dispatched to talk to Saul. “I am Jesus. But Jesus had a new task for Saul—one he would reveal once Saul reached Damascus. But instead of a proud Pharisee. You would be rattled to the very core of your being.

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who are your favorites? What follows are profiles of well-known Bible characters—warts and all. The Bible is a collection of stories about ordinary people who served an extraordinary God.  . Of all the people who can be found in the pages of the Bible. As you read the stories. you’ll see how God worked through imperfect people to bring about His perfect plan: to end the curse of sin. Favorite Folks C onsider your favorite stories—the ones you might have grown up hearing and loving.

Also. I will make you into a great nation. and your father’s family. and you will be a blessing to others. Abraham (who was then known as Abram) obeyed nonetheless. There was no shiny new house when they arrived either. which forced them to continue down into Egypt in the search for food. So what would prompt Abraham to undertake such a move? Look at God’s unconditional promise above. your relatives. moving the six hundred to eight hundred miles from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan. I will bless you and make you famous.” (Genesis 12:1–3 nlt) 82 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . All the families on earth will be blessed through you. you know how physically taxing moving can be. “Leave your native country. were not able to have children. and go to the land that I will show you. In fact. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.Abraham: Friend of God If you’ve ever moved across town or country.  The Lord had said to Abram. Sarah. This was God’s call on Abraham’s life. when they arrived in Canaan. they discovered other people already living there. Now imagine moving not just across the country. This promise was all the more amazing since Abraham and his wife. they walked right into a famine. and whatever mixed emotions he may have been feeling inside. but to a foreign country where you don’t know anyone at all.

In response to Abraham’s faith. when appropriate. In the New Testament. God blessed Abraham with astonishing wealth and. he was also known as the friend of God. a descendant of David and of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1 nlt). Best of all. military success over local enemies. and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. God informed His friend of what He planned to do to Sodom and Gomorrah and listened while Abraham pleaded for the family of his nephew Lot. even when asked to sacrifice his only son. He also was known as the first of the patriarchs (the fathers of the Jewish people) and a man of incredible faith in God. This was both a testament to God’s faithful fulfillment of the covenant promise to “bless” the world through Abraham and a reminder of Abraham’s faithfulness as the vessel through which these promises were fulfilled. Isaac. Matthew opens his Gospel like this: “This is a re- cord of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah. your only son” (Genesis 22:12 nlt). “I know that you truly fear God. “‘Abraham believed God. You have not withheld from me even your son.’ He was even called the friend of God” (James 2:23 nlt).Despite being a foreigner among a foreign people. the angel of the Lord told him. Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 83 .

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in the midst of this darkness. struggle and death. Aside from being forced out of the garden of Eden. He made her doubt God’s love for her and made her desire to be like God. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied. moments we wish we could have back or do over again. a beautiful garden to work and live in. Eve was made from one of Adam’s ribs. Whereas in Eden this had been a gift and a joy. Adam and Eve: First People.  When the cool evening breezes were blowing. leaving behind a bitter legacy of pain. The impact was felt almost immediately. and tasty food to eat. God gave them a glim- mer of hope: someday another person would be born. That’s quite a burden to bear. Now imagine be- ing Adam and Eve. the very first people ever to live and breathe and enjoy God’s perfect creation. amazing animals at their beck and call. from now on it would be a laborious struggle. “Where are you?” He replied. They had close communion with the Lord. Adam and Eve would die. Satan came along in the form of a snake and tempted Eve with a lie. Eve would have pain in childbirth and be ruled by her husband. However. God’s punishment on Adam was that he would have to work hard for the rest of his life. they lost everything.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. I was afraid because I was naked. created when God saw that it was “not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18 nlt). because of their sin.” (Genesis 3:8–12 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 85 . Adam and Eve had the best of everything. Yet. There was only one rule to living in the garden of Eden—they could not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How amazing that must have been! Yet. Then the Lord God called to the man. or else they would die. Adam was formed from the dust of the earth and given life when God breathed into him. suffering. First Sin We all carry around feelings of guilt for things we have said or done wrong. physically and spiritually. Through their sin the whole earth was cursed. Finally. “I heard you walking in the garden. so I hid. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit. and I ate it. as God had warned them. the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. That person—the Messiah—would undo the evil brought into the world by their sin. First Eve then Adam sinned by eating the forbidden fruit.

When we first hear about Barnabas. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians. many work with an associ- ate also known as a sidekick. As a result. but he was renamed Barnabas. bravely vouching for Paul before some unsurprisingly suspicious apostles who doubted the sincerity of Paul’s conversion from persecutor to apostle. and defended their faith before the Jewish leaders. He sold a field and donated the money to the disciples. When he found him. They were a great team. Apparently it was because of his work in Antioch that “many people were brought to the Lord.” Barnabas was almost always with Paul. Barnabas was clearly someone the apostles trusted. full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. teaching large crowds of people. His next appearance was in Je- rusalem.Barnabas: More Than a Sidekick Although some heroes or heroines work alone. worked miracles. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year. Think of Batman and Robin.” Paul and Barnabas preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles. While heroes and heroines often get the lion's share of the glory. Paul took Silas and went one way while Barnabas took John Mark and went another. Though Paul is the name everyone associates with the spread of the early church. And many people were brought to the Lord. Paul accomplished much of that work with the help of his close friend Barnabas. Throughout the book of Acts. Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. it’s because of his generosity. some of the applause is due to their trustworthy companions. which means “Son of Encouragement” by the apostles. only parting ways when a dispute arose over whether John Mark should accompany them on their second missionary journey.) (Acts 11:24–26 nlt) 86 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Luke constantly referred to “Barnabas and Saul” or “Paul and Barnabas. Ultimately they were able to spread the good news of Jesus’ message to more places by going their separate ways. he brought him back to Antioch.  Barnabas was a good man. Barnabas’s real name was Joseph.

Caleb and Joshua. tried to persuade them to be obedient to God. I was forty years old when Moses. So that day Moses solemnly promised me. Yet. Caleb in particular was singled out by God for his obedience. ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever. Sadly. the people still did not listen and instead threatened to stone them! So God declared that only their children and Caleb and Joshua would en- ter Canaan.  Caleb said to Joshua. For my part. the servant of the Lord. because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. I returned and gave an honest report. Obedient to God and Moses. When the people of Israel arrived at Kadesh-barnea. about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. not in his ability. getting out of Egypt was the easy part. the man of God. however. but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. Yet he was still willing to drive his enemies out of that land. The rest would die in the wilderness. like Joshua. he was eager to get into the land they had been promised by God. ten of the spies gave such a negative report that the people became overwhelmed with fear and wanted to turn back instead of entering the land. He was confident. right on the border of Canaan. Caleb was clearly a warrior. However. “Remember what the Lord said to Moses. Upon their return. sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. but in God’s ability to help him take the land. he had to wander in the desert for another forty years. convincing his friends and countrymen that they really could enter the promised land of Canaan was almost the death of him. Caleb was one of twelve handpicked spies sent to look over the land. I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. Caleb was eighty-five years old.’” (Joshua 14:6–9 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 87 .Caleb: The Faithful Spy For Caleb. By the time Canaan was conquered and the land distributed.

“Daniel. his holy mountain. or maybe to a different state. now renamed Belteshazzar.) But to God. Daniel became renowned for his ability to interpret dreams and was frequently called upon to provide advice and guidance to the various kings who assumed power during the forty-five years Daniel resided in Babylon. encouraged them to refuse this opulent diet. As I was praying. From the moment they arrived and were encouraged to eat and drink the rich food of the king’s court. Gabriel. Listen carefully so that you can understand the meaning of your vision.  I went on praying and confessing my sin and the sin of my people.Daniel: Man of Prayer It’s one thing to have to move across town. but he was known for his gift of interpreting dreams and mysterious mes- sages (see “Weighed in the balances and found wanting” on page 200) as well as for his faithful intercession. Daniel was “very precious. for you are very precious to God. However. and although he could have become bitter and resentful during his exile in Babylon. young. he remained faithful and obedient to God. (See also “Daniel Is Thrown into the Lions’ Den” on page 62. While many of his prophecies have already come to pass. he seemed to have been a leader among this small band of exiles. he negotiated a special deal with the chief of staff. Not only was he a prophet. He explained to me. talented men specifically selected from the Jerusalem elite to be trained for service to King Nebuchadnez- zar. a command was given. Daniel was just a young man when he was forcibly removed from his home in Jerusalem in 605 BC. I have come here to give you insight and understanding. The moment you began praying. whom I had seen in the earlier vision.” (Daniel 9:20–23 nlt) 88 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .” Daniel is known for the prophetic book that bears his name. pleading with the Lord my God for Jerusalem. Instead. whatever the cost. and Cyrus. Darius the Mede. Daniel. many are predictions of end- times events yet to come. And now I am here to tell you what it was. It’s another thing entirely to be taken away against your will and forced to live in a foreign country under the authority of the king whose army conquered your nation—a king whose way of life is completely different from yours. Daniel was a man of great influence who served in the administrations of King Belteshazzar. Daniel was one of many bright. This intercession gained him the notice of jealous colleagues and earned him a trip to the lions’ den. came swiftly to me at the time of the evening sacrifice.

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committed adultery. David had seven brothers. David’s life began in a rather ordinary way. God shocked the prophet Samuel by choosing the shepherd David instead of his older. Matthew in his Gospel referred to Jesus as “a descendant of David and of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1 nlt). 90 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . but David honored Saul as best he could and refused any and all opportunities to take the throne by force. David was anything but perfect. the young- est son of a man named Jesse. Yet he also lied. a passionate worshipper.David: A Man after God’s Own Heart Imagine being known as a person “after [God’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Sure he was a mighty warrior. Yet when God wanted a king to replace a disobedient Saul. where he defeated the giant Goliath with his shepherd’s slingshot. and tried to cover up his crime by having the husband of his lover put to death. handsomer brothers. Still. Israel’s greatest king. King Saul resented David’s popularity and tried to kill him on numerous occasions. You would think that a person with that description would be a model of perfection. faithful servant. And David’s faith in God propelled him into battle against the Philistines. Born in Bethlehem. and gifted psalm writer.

People judge by outward appearance. “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!” But the Lord said to Samuel. (1 Samuel 16:6–7. for I have rejected him. He was dark and handsome.  When they arrived. anoint him. with beautiful eyes. an event he tried to cover up by arranging the death of her husband. And the Lord said. . including a coup led by his own son Absalom.” So as David stood there among his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Terrible behavior from his children overshadowed the rest of David’s reign. Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. “This is the one. bringing the ark of the covenant with him. 12–13 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 91 . David poured out his heart to God.” . . Although David enjoyed military success. David assumed the throne and set up residence in Jerusalem. “Don’t judge by his appearance or height. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.After Saul died. but the Lord looks at the heart. Called to repentance by the prophet Nathan. Yet for all his faults. So Jesse sent for him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. Uriah. he committed adultery with Bathsheba. David pointed the way forward to the time when a perfect king would come from Bethlehem—Jesus the Messiah. Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought.

000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. Because of Barak’s lack of faith. the people of Israel were oppressed by the Canannites. and the Israelites would go to her for judgment. She would sit under the Palm of Deborah. but only if you go with me. Deborah led with boldness and faith.  Deborah. the God of Israel. Exhausted from the battle. One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam. involves two women—Deborah and Jael—who helped the people of Israel achieve a stunning defeat over their enemies. And I will call out Sisera. At this point. the army of which was led by Sisera. Jael lured Sisera into her tent. Deborah and Barak composed a beautiful song about the defeat of Sisera. between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim. God guaranteed Barak the victory. killing him. One day. after the bulk of the fighting was over and the Canaanite commander Sisera fled on foot. he fell asleep. who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman. She said to him. Deborah told Barak that God wanted him to assemble ten thousand warriors to fight against Sisera’s forces. commands you: Call out 10. There I will give you victory over him.” Barak told her.” she replied. “I will go. Barak. “I will go with you. to the Kishon River. however. The Bible states. “Then there was peace in the land for forty years” (Judges 5:31 nlt). But you will receive no honor in this venture. The next morning. in fact. A judge was someone who functioned as a leader for the people in the time before they had kings. along with his chariots and warriors. The song explains that God gave them victory by flooding the Kishon River so that it swept the army away. consistently giving the glory and praise to God. The Bible refers to Deborah as both a prophet and a judge. the wife of Lappidoth. “This is what the Lord.” “Very well.” (Judges 4:4–9 nlt) 92 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Deborah settled serious disputes between Israelites and spoke God’s words to His people. Indeed. Deborah’s story. refused to go into battle unless Deborah accompanied him. he would receive no honor for the victory. A woman of strength and devotion to God. was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. commander of Jabin’s army. and Jael hammered a tent peg through his head. Peace in the days of Judges was a sign from the Lord of blessing that stemmed from obedience. Deborah: Warrior Prophet The story of Deborah stands out at a time when women were considered second-class citizens. God sent Deborah a message for a man named Barak.

In another miracle. a three-year drought was coming. sending him to a brook and feeding him via ravens bringing bread and meat. Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 93 . Elijah asked for bread. the people. Instead. the sacrifice. Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life. King Ahab. and all the water were consumed by fire from heaven. They called out. Such an event was cata- strophic for a land that needed every last drop of water to survive. On the way he was once again sustained by angels and eventually heard a message from God in the form of a whisper. Later Elijah prayed and God brought her son back to life. calling on him to send fire from heaven for the sacrifice. Instead. This is Elijah’s story. Even after this awesome display of God’s power. and Queen Jezebel refused to turn their hearts toward the Lord. After the brook dried up. imagine the most powerful person in your country trying to kill you—even sending troops to hunt you down. The moment Elijah prayed to God. Elijah was then sent to a widow who was using the last of her flour and oil to make her final loaf of bread. Elijah then built an altar of stone with wood on top and poured twelve large jars of water over it. God provided for Elijah. where he demanded that the people either worship God or worship Baal. however. Elijah instructed the worshippers of Baal to build an altar of wood and sacrifice a bull to their god. Thanks to King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. and she shared her last meal with him. the people of Israel were torn between the worship of God and the worship of Baal and Asherah—two Canaanite gods. he was simply carried to heaven by a whirlwind in a chariot of fire. Elijah predicted that because the people had broken the law of Moses. at the end of his life and ministry. the flour and oil did not run out until the rains returned. Elijah is one of two people in the Bible (Enoch being the other—Genesis 5:24) who was taken to heaven without dying first. stones. Elijah: Israel’s Greatest Prophet Imagine being surrounded by a people and a culture that utterly rejects everything you believe. but nothing happened. The discouraged prophet fled to Mount Sinai. Elijah’s biggest moment happened on Mount Carmel. Furthermore.

the Lord is God!” (1 Kings 18:36–39 nlt) 94 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. the wood. they fell face down on the ground and cried out. O Lord. Prove that I have done all this at your command. and Jacob. God of Abraham. are God and that you have brought them back to yourself. O Lord. answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it.  At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice. and the dust. the stones. Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed. Isaac. “The Lord—he is God! Yes.”  Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull. “O Lord.

burned his plows. the mighty prophet Elijah walked past and announced Elisha as his successor. and God raised him back to life. Whereas some prophets. Elisha then purified and healed the soil around Jericho. and followed Elijah. Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 9 5 . Elisha’s ministry began after Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. But one day. Elisha also healed a powerful commander of the Aramean army. assuring them of victory and securing his position as adviser to kings. bid his family farewell. Indeed. Elisha touched the Jordan River with his cloak. Elisha exerted a powerful influence over the people of Israel during a time of many external threats. Elisha: The Man of God Picture this—one day you’re minding your own business. barren for many years. similar to when Joshua and the people of Israel entered the Promised Land and when Moses and the people crossed the Red Sea before that. The next thing you know. Elisha then blessed a poor widow with jars and bowls of oil that kept replenishing until she had enough to pay off all her debts. How would you respond? Elisha was just an ordinary man. Elisha prayed. a man called Naaman. Needing to cross over into Jericho. When that son later became deathly sick. like Isaiah and Jeremiah. a prophet walks by and announces that you’ve been chosen as God’s anointed spokesperson to the people. For another woman from Shunem. are remembered for their beautiful writing. remaining faithful and absolutely obe- dient to God throughout his long life and ministry. enabling crops to flourish once again. this event solidified his role as chief of the prophets in the country. and the river divided for him. Elisha encouraged the kings in battle against the Moabites. Elisha spoke God’s blessing into her life and she received a son. who was suffering from leprosy. Elisha’s response was immediate—he sacrificed his oxen. doing a little yard work. He anointed kings and rebuked enemies of God. while plowing his fields. Elisha’s ministry was symbolized by a combination of amazing miracles and divinely inspired wisdom and guidance.

then you will get your request. .” . then you won’t. “If you see me when I am taken from you. and Elisha went across. He struck the water with Elijah’s cloak and cried out. . which had fallen when he was taken up. “Where is the Lord. Elijah said to Elisha. Then Elisha returned to the bank of the Jordan River. “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor. Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak.” And Elisha replied. (2 Kings 2:9–10. But if not. 13–14) 96 | B i b l e Fi n d I t Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 96 .” Elijah replied.  When they came to the other side. the God of Elijah?” Then the river divided.” “You have asked a difficult thing. “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.

but her faithful obedience to God shines through as an example for all to follow. Why am I so honored. not only that they would have a baby. to the town where Zechariah lived. In a time and place where children were everything. At the sound of Mary’s greeting. Elizabeth learned to her joy that she would have a son. sparking praise from Elizabeth.” (Luke 1:39–45 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 97 . Elizabeth’s relative. the baby in my womb jumped for joy. came to visit her. careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations” (Luke 1:6 nlt). and praised God. Elizabeth’s story may be short and her role small. Elizabeth: Joyful Mom Most women facing the sunset of their years don’t think about changing diapers for the first time. Mary. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. Yet one day while Zecha- riah was serving in the temple. now pregnant with Jesus. That son would grow up to be John the Baptist. Elizabeth indeed became preg- nant. Despite Zechariah’s doubts to the contrary. “God has blessed you above all women.  A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea. Elizabeth’s child leaped within her. During this time. an angel appeared to him and promised. But having been infertile for many years. Elizabeth and her priest husband. the shame of being childless must have been great. that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting. and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.  Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary. “were righteous in God’s eyes. Zechariah. and your child is blessed. but that their son would play an instrumental role in preparing the way for the Messiah.

What would Esther do? She was the only hope the people had of reaching the king and having the decree reversed. by refusing to bow down to Haman. Persia was one of the most powerful empires in the world and was ruled by King Xerxes. King Xerxes was half drunk with wine and or- dered his wife. But anyone who came before the king without a summons could be sentenced to death. She was willing to sacrifice her life. a new holiday was born: Purim. after a particularly long and elaborate ban- quet. Moreover. was chosen. a relative. who was raised by Mordecai. Queen Vashti.Esther: Courageous Queen Esther’s story begins like a fairy tale: a young and beautiful Jewish girl is singled out from many oth- ers to be the queen of Persia. Ultimately.” So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. I must die. Esther was a Jew. If you keep quiet at a time like this. But the story ends with a decision that Cinderella never had to make. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Haman’s plan backfired. night or day. As a result of Esther’s quick thinking. to parade herself before him and his officials. One day. (Esther 4:13–17 nlt) 98 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . My maids and I will do the same. Haman convinced the king to issue a decree stating that all Jews be killed. Then his officials scoured the kingdom for young women to replace her. In Esther’s day.   Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. Would she risk her own life to save her people? Or would she turn away in fear and let them die? This particular story does end happily ever after. the second in command of the kingdom. a fact she had been careful to hide this entire time. After she refused to come. During this time Mordecai displeased Haman. If I must die. And then. as Esther successfully saves the Jews from destruction. but you and your relatives will die. Despite the danger. As a result. I will go in to see the king. deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place. and he was hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Do not eat or drink for three days. though it is against the law. Esther. Esther courageously appeared before the king and asked him to protect her people from the decree. Xerxes banished her.

Each part represented the people: one third would die from famine and disease. and he only spoke when God told him to speak. He shut himself in his house. It’s even worse when the news involves the judgment of God on your country and the imminent destruc- tion of your capital city and subsequent deportation of an entire population into exile. Through the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel had a dangerous job because he was called to warn the people of God’s judgment just as a watchman would warn a city of trouble coming against it. Born into a family of priests. To de- pict the many years of Israel’s and Judah’s sins. Such was Ezekiel’s life as a prophet of God around 600 bc. Ezekiel lay on his left side for 390 days and then his right side for 40 days. and he set me on my feet. One of the hardest demonstrations of God’s judgment of Israel was when God told Ezekiel that his wife would die but that he was not to mourn in public. (Ezekiel 2:1–3 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 99 . Ezekiel’s visions are among the most amazing in the Bible. and many people would die. He shaved his head and beard using a sword. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. Ezekiel ate a scroll that tasted as sweet as honey and then went to the Israelites to tell them what the scroll said.” The Spirit came into me as he spoke. son of man. weighing the hair and separating it into three parts.” he said. a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me. He would take their greatest treasure from them.  “Stand up. and one-third would be scattered among other nations. “Son of man. This was a devastating visual example of what God would do to Israel. visual demon- strations of His coming judgment. he saw the glory of the Lord depart and return to the temple. “I am sending you to the nation of Israel. the temple. Ezekiel’s ministry was unique in that God used very concrete. I listened carefully to his words. Ezekiel: God´s Visionary Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news.” said the voice. He used a brick and an iron griddle to demonstrate a siege that was coming against Jerusalem. “I want to speak with you. where the Lord bound him with ropes. one-third would be killed by enemy forces.

“O my God. never seen the temple. Ezra provided spiritual leadership. Ezra moved forward boldly and decisively. I blush to lift up my face to you. I am utterly ashamed. Ezra’s first act as the spiritual leader of the people was to put an end to this practice. determined to do whatever he could to teach the people about God’s law. Ezra was probably wrestling with those emotions and more as he thought about what lay ahead. he was to go to Jerusalem. I fell to my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord my God. and had no clear models to follow. the city of his fathers. and our guilt has reached to the heavens. Although Ezra was a descendant of Aaron and a trained scribe. due to unlawful marriages with people of other nations. Ezra would also lead the people in an act of covenant renewal. except for whatever forms of localized worship took place among the exiles in Babylon. after Nehemiah rebuilt the protective wall around the city. Although the rebuilt temple had been in place in Jerusalem for almost fifty years. He had no doubt heard many stories about Jerusalem during the glory days of King David and King Solomon. by the time Ezra arrived the people were in spiritual disarray. Later." (Ezra 9:5–6 nlt) 100 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Yet despite all this. Ezra’s mission was almost overwhelming in scope. setting out for Jerusalem.Ezra: God’s Man in Troubled Times Sometimes the most exciting moments in life can also be the most intimi- dating. protecting the people from the dangerous influence of paganism. and restore worship to the newly rebuilt temple. reading from the Law and directing the people in their celebration of the Feast of Booths. For our sins are piled higher than our heads. I stood up from where I had sat in mourning with my clothes torn. I prayed. As Nehemiah provided military and administrative leadership.  At the time of the sacrifice. but he had never been there himself. Ezra had lived in Babylon his whole life. helping the people to reestablish themselves firmly back in the Promised Land. Following a call from God and a commission of the king of Babylon.

Gideon was not convinced. Gideon would believe that God was sending him. The man who would later triumph so decisively over the enemies of Israel now cowered in a corner when an angel of the Lord came and called him to lead the people into battle. and rescue Israel from the Midianites. Despite his continued doubts.” Gideon replied. but overall he is still remembered for his faithfulness to God. Despite the angel’s presence. “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh. God patiently answered this prayer. attempting to thresh wheat in what was basically a hole in the ground. I am sending you!” “But Lord. once again his doubts and fears got the best of him and he turned to God asking for a sign.” If a fleece Gideon set out on a threshing floor that night turned out wet with dew while the ground was completely dry. Perhaps to emphasize that victory comes from God and not our own con- fidence or abilities. Despite the fact that Gideon was able to muster thirty-two thousand troops to battle the Midianites.” Gideon replied. you’re not alone. This sign would for- ever be known as “putting out a fleece. ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites. God winnowed Gideon’s army down to a mere three hundred men. why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say. “Go with the strength you have. before Gideon was finally convinced that God was with them. fearful of the reaction this would have among his family. assur- ing a time of peace for Israel as a result. and still another request for a sign the fol- lowing night (make the ground wet and the fleece dry). Gideon later led the people into idolatry. Gideon. The angel patiently performed a miracle. Sadly. burning up Gideon’s sacrifice and demanding that Gideon in turn tear down his father’s altar to Baal and Asherah pole. Gideon and this small band of troops completely destroyed the Midianite army and killed their kings. During a time when Israel suffered under the oppres- sion of various enemy nations.” Then the Lord turned to him and said. Gideon: A Reluctant Hero Has fear ever kept you from doing what you knew was right? Don’t worry. Gideon’s story begins with him hiding in a winepress. and I am the least in my entire family!” (Judges 6:13–15 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 101 .  “Sir. “if the Lord is with us. could only bring himself to do this secretly at night.

Eli’s manner changed toward her. Hannah’s prayers were answered and. and promising that if God provided. Hannah’s infertility probably seemed like a curse. Eli watched her. But I am very discouraged. Hannah went to pray near the tabernacle. Because he couldn’t hear her voice. pouring out her heart to God amid tears of sorrow. “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded.Hannah: The Desperate Pray-er In a time when having a child meant everything to a woman.” (1 Samuel 1:12–16 nlt) 102 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . she would dedicate this boy to the Lord for his entire life. During their annual trip to worship at Shiloh. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow. for although she was about to say good-bye to her son. “Throw away your wine!” “Oh no. and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. he initially assumed she was drunk and rebuked her for approaching God in such a manner. She kept her promise to God and delivered her son to the tabernacle at Shiloh. As she prayed. Year after year Hannah endured the mocking and laughter of the fertile Peninnah while she herself remained barren. In a moment of desperation.  As she was praying to the Lord. Hannah offered a beautiful song of praise and thanksgiving to God. After she explained the situation. he thought she had been drinking. bearing a son. What made this pain almost unbear- able was the constant taunting and teasing of her husband’s other wife. Upon leaving him. she named him Samuel. imploring God to give her a son. Hannah was reduced to tears and could barely eat. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound. Nothing Elkanah said could comfort her. Peninnah. she worshipped the Lord for His gracious answer to her prayers and for His sovereign power over all things. sir!” she replied. the priest Eli saw her. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger.

it became clear that Esau was Isaac’s favorite son. She became pregnant. As you draw near the appointed place. Although Isaac’s name meant something like “laughter. telling him to stop. And Abraham named their son Isaac. and you realize that the sacrifice is going to be you. When the time was right for marriage. rescuing him from death.  The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised. However. Jacob and Esau. where he met Rebekah. here you are. Abraham sent his servant to Haran. eventually she gave birth to twins. And yet now. God then provided a ram as a substitute for Isaac’s life. trudging up a mountainside carrying the wood and materials needed for a sacrifice. Jacob tricked his old and nearly blind father into giving him the blessing instead of his brother. Yet it did not seem possible or likely given the situation at hand. the pieces begin to fall together. Isaac’s life was spared. Although she. Except this time there is no animal with you. remained barren for many years. your father carries nothing but a deep frown and a look of grim determination that makes your heart sink. Instead of a bleating sheep or a small calf. like her mother-in-law. there was nothing but sad- ness filling his heart at this moment. and God remained faithful to His covenant. who became Isaac’s wife. (Genesis 21:1–3 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 103 . God’s covenant with Abraham was supposed to pass down through Isaac and his children. God sent an angel and a special word to Abraham. This happened at just the time God had said it would.” a reference to every- one’s response to God’s promise that the ninety-year-old Sarah would bear a son. Isaac: The Promised Son Imagine being the favorite child of aged parents and hearing frequently that God has a plan that He is going to work out through you. and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. while Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite son. causing a wound in the family that would take years to heal. Abraham passed the test. As the children grew up. when the time came for the blessing. Just as the knife was about to fall.

This was a time of immense political upheaval and uncertainty. who was married with two children. And no wonder. He touched my lips with it and said. “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said. ultimately he was far more concerned that people know the person of God. “See. there were massive temptations to trust in visible military might and strength over the largely invisible power and authority of God. Perhaps in large measure his constancy stemmed from the vision of God he had as a young man. and your sins are forgiven. While many kings and lead- ers ignored his advice.” Then I heard the Lord asking. revealing an incredibly deep-seated pas- sion for God’s glory to be elevated above his own personal experiences. whether they wanted to hear them or not. both locally and internationally. Isaiah is remembered as the greatest prophet in the Old Testament. Isaiah’s writings are almost exclusively directed toward God. served as a prophet in Jerusalem for about fifty years under at least four different kings. This brief personal recollection gives us a glimpse of Isaiah’s humble obedience before God and his willingness to go and do and say whatever God commanded. Isaiah. this coal has touched your lips. His primary mission in life was to point people back to God and encourage faithful obedience to God. a prophet was charged with speaking the very words of God to His people. Now your guilt is removed. Send me.  Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The book of Isaiah contains some of the most memorable prophecies of the Messiah. Jesus often quoted from Isaiah’s prophetic book. a man of both phenomenal literary talent and astonishing faith in God. Although we can infer a fair amount about Isaiah’s personality from the book that bears his name. Facing threats and enemies on all sides.Isaiah: A Handpicked Prophet What if your whole life was devoted to speaking on behalf of someone else? Would you be willing to give up any rights to personal recognition in order to see someone else’s agenda be furthered? More than a mere press secretary for God.” (Isaiah 6:6–8 nlt) 104 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . “Here I am. Isaiah’s message was always the same—that God alone saves.

and yet. and he worked seven years for the right to marry her. “I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!” (This is how Esau got his other name. leaving Esau with nothing but a bitter.” The challenge: To cook a meal so good that your brother. Your time starts. instead. Jacob: The Schemer Welcome to “Top Chef: Patriarch Edition. of something resembling a ladder going up to heaven and angels going up and down on it. . The ingredients: Red lentils. through a combination of culinary creativity and God’s sovereignty.” pulled another fast one on Esau as their father neared death. not thrilled about marrying off the younger daughter before the older. As Jacob watched. God spoke to him.”)  “All right. pulled a bait and switch on Jacob. Sound impossible? Improbable? Unlikely? Perhaps. Blessed once again by God. angry heart and a deep desire for revenge. promising to bless him and give him land and offspring as numerous as the dust of the earth.”  One day when Jacob was cooking some stew. convincing his burly big brother. somehow pulled it off. found out that Esau was about to receive the much vaunted “father’s blessing.now. Leah. which means something like “Striving for/with God. much to everyone’s surprise. Jacob returned to Canaan with his newfound wealth and. Esau said to Jacob. Laban caved and gave Jacob Rachel. . Jacob was renamed Israel. the younger twin son of Isaac. . almost blind and unable to tell the difference. Then. This time Jacob’s mother made the prize-winning meal while Jacob dressed up like Esau and went in to Isaac with goat skins strapped on his hands. blessed Jacob.” Jacob replied. When their mother. . Jacob had an extraordinary dreams. in exchange for another seven years of work. a warm welcome from his estranged brother. however. tricking the trickster into marrying Rachel’s sister. Laban. it was a good trade. Jacob fell head-over-heels in love with his uncle Laban’s younger daughter.and not much else. which means “red.” (Genesis 25:29–31 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 105 . whose very name means something like “He cheats. Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry.” she helped Jacob cook up another clever scheme. Esau. is willing to part with his birthright for a bowl. The old man. Not long afterward. “but trade me your rights as the firstborn son. Edom. Rachel. Esau. who doesn’t really like you. On his way out of town. Jacob. Rebekah. Twelve sons later. Jacob.

Despite being rejected by everyone. Yet. In fact. God repeatedly offers new life for those who repent of their sins and turn back to Him. Through Jeremiah. I will listen. imprisoned him. Jeremiah persevered because he had a deep passion for his people and a longing to see them turn back to God. Despite the crystal clear calls God made for the people to repent and turn back to God. Even though his message was un- popular and his advice completely ignored. afterward he goes straight back to his old way of life. Jeremiah persevered because he knew from personal experience that his only hope was in God. and threatened him with death.” says the Lord. I would weep day and night for all my people who have been slaughtered.” says the Lord. Jeremiah’s message was a tear-filled warning of coming judgment. but to no avail. we find hope for redemption. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. It’s like watching a car wreck happen in slow motion. Jeremiah experienced all this and more during his time as a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. not only did the people ignore his warnings of impending judgment. but they ridiculed Jeremiah. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land” (Jeremiah 29:11–14 nlt). In those days when you pray.Jeremiah: The Weeping Prophet Remember having a conversation with someone and feeling as though you were banging your head against a brick wall? Or perhaps you know someone who just keeps making the same bad decisions over and over again. Jeremiah remained faithful to God and to his calling as a prophet. to give you a future and a hope. “They are plans for good and not for disaster.  If only my head were a pool of water and my eyes a fountain of tears. I will be found by you. the nation continued to drift away into idolatry and unbelief. “There’s a train coming! Get off the tracks!” Jeremiah seemed to be yelling. however. If you look for me whole- heartedly. (Jeremiah 9:1 nlt) 106 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . even within such a somber book. “For I know the plans I have for you. you will find me. While your friend may nod his head when you offer advice or give suggestions for how to help. threw him into a cistern.

then he would cease to be blameless and curse God instead. Initially they sat quietly with him for a week. Job did not sin by blaming God. but in this case the Bible is clear that Job was still “a man of complete integrity” (Job 1:1 nlt). and I will be naked when I leave. awed and horrified at the awful extent of his suffering. even though he questioned what God was doing. instead. even giving him another seven sons and three daughters. seven sons. God then blessed Job with “twice as much as before” (Job 42:10 nlt) . he did not curse God. This man had everything—an amazing wife. and. camels and goats. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. The rest of Job’s story is told via a series of conversations among Job and these three friends as they wrestled with the problem of suffering and pain. In fact. He said. The best part of this story? After this lengthy response to Job. convinced that if all Job’s material blessings were removed. the richest person in that entire area” (Job 1:3 nlt). Job tore his clothes and shaved his head. three daughters. Stricken with grief at this unimaginable tragedy. Job never cursed God and never turned away from God. Job continued to plead his innocence. He ignored their debate completely. Surprisingly. instead. a man who lived during the time of the patriarchs. animals. How does such a grim tale end? After extensive debate among these men. confronted Job with a long series of rhetorical questions. and the Lord has taken it away. God appeared and spoke directly to Job. thousands of sheep. While the friends were convinced that Job must have done something wrong in order to bring on such suffering. “I came naked from my mother’s womb. Job: The Tested Man Imagine the worse day of your life and how you felt on that day. convinced that this would turn Job’s heart from the Lord. and on the same day Job lost all his servants. in fact.  Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. however. So God gave Satan permission to test Job. Despite their rebukes. Praise the name of the Lord!” In all of this. however. Satan approached God with a plan to put Job to the test. Even his wife turned against him. The Lord gave me what I had. Satan returned to God. Usually such enormous wealth goes to people’s heads. the Bible tells us “he was. (Job 1:20–22 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 107 . he fell to the ground in worship. faced such a day. Into this nightmare came three of Job’s friends to comfort him. Job. this time asking permission to afflict Job with illness. and children. Job’s life then took another turn for the worse as he was stricken with various illnesses and skin problems.

John also is remembered for having written three short letters (1. because Jesus captured the brother's tempestuous nature with the nickname. 17 nlt) 108 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Exiled on the island of Patmos. They left everything to do so. John wrote one of the most beautiful accounts of the life of Christ. and Peter out of all the disciples to come with Him up on a mountain where they witnessed an amazing vision of Moses and Elijah. He again carefully selected James. . which he recorded to encourage believers of both the hope and judgment that is to come. This deep love is reflected in the passion and poetry of his writing. the son of a man named Zebedee. . mending his nets when Jesus came along the shore and called to John and James to follow Him.  Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. he was granted a vision of the final judgment. Many years after Jesus’ death. and 3 John) and per- haps the most unusual and most debated book of the New Testament. and saw Jesus “trans- formed” into dazzling white and heard God name Jesus as “dearly loved Son“ (Mark 9:2–13 nlt). (Mark 3:13-14. His Gospel stands next to that of Matthew. James and John (the sons of Zebedee. eyewitness testimony to all that he experienced. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. When we first meet John. that person was Jesus. John. John was one of the three men chosen to join Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as He poured out His heart to God in the last moments before being arrested and ultimately crucified (Mark 14:33). 2. he was just another Jewish fisherman. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles.John: The Disciple Jesus Loved Who is the most charismatic person you know—the one who influenced your life the most? For John. Later in Jesus’ ministry. This close relationship is brought out in a name John used for himself: “the disciple Jesus loved” (John 13:23 nlt). Mark. . “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). And they came to him. Finally. John became part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. One day he was sitting in his boat with his brother James. Revelation. but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”). and Luke as a personal.

the Messiah. No doubt prompted by the Holy Spirit. who had married his brother’s wife. John’s parents. (John 3:27–30 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 109 . I am only here to prepare the way for him. ‘I am not the Messiah. Despite all this. and I must become less and less. John the Baptist: The Forerunner Imagine being told that all of your life will involve building up someone else—someone whose fame will eventually eclipse yours. John saw right away that Jesus was the Messiah and proclaimed Him as such.   John replied. “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. his ministry of baptism grew and attracted large crowds. Many people were turned off by John’s forceful preaching and his strange lifestyle: his diet of locusts and honey. Into this waiting crowd strode Jesus. but he would be a lifelong Nazirite—a person who abstained from alcohol. Therefore. John experienced some serious doubts. when his father. Although his ministry was brief and his life cut short. John’s birth was unusual. was minister- ing in the temple. the bridge between the old order of things and the new covenant instituted by Jesus. and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. were childless and getting on in age. Zechariah. an angel announced that Zecha- riah would have a son. I am filled with joy at his success. which were allayed by messengers from Jesus. He was later imprisoned for speaking out against Herod Antipas. You yourselves know how plainly I told you. Zechariah and Elizabeth.’ It is the bridegroom who marries the bride. Yet one day. Not only would he be filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb. He must become greater and greater. John the Baptist will- ingly embraced this call to champion the Messiah— his own relative—even though he had some brief doubts later in his life. John will forever be remembered as the last of the prophets. he would be the fulfill- ment of a prophecy uttered by Malachi—the Elijah sent to prepare people for the Messiah’s coming. And while in prison. beginning with the birth announcement delivered by an angel—Gabriel— the same who would later give Mary an announce- ment of Jesus’ birth. Most important.

Usually these are the folks we find ourselves wanting to help. where he remained for three days and nights. Jonah was a prophet of God during the reign of Jeroboam II. Instead of following God’s command. He went down to the port of Joppa. To his dismay. But God was not about to let his prophet say no.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. But what about someone who has hurt us or been imprisoned for hurting others? Jonah’s story is often reduced to the surprising and miraculous fact that he was swallowed by a giant fish but lived to tell the tale. He bought a ticket and went on board. After God sent a huge storm that nearly destroyed the ship. one of the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel (750 BC). with so many people? It’s a startling rebuke of this struggling prophet and a testi- mony to God’s grace so evident even here in the Old Testament. we’ll see that his story is actually about compassion “ for other people. a compliant Jonah headed to Nineveh to preach God’s message. Jonah had no desire to preach to these enemies of Israel. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are. he boarded a ship going in the opposite direction to the city of Tarshish. But if we look more closely. However. Once he returned to shore. The only way to solve the problem was to throw him overboard. But God had yet another lesson for his prophet: the lesson of compassion.  The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. His story begins with a direct word from God telling him to go and preach against the city of Nineveh. the whole city repented! Rather than rejoicing at this change of heart. Jonah complained. hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. (Jonah 1:1–3 nlt) 110 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Jonah was swallowed by the fish. Jonah knew that he had placed everyone in danger. where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. This event would take on a new significance when Jesus hinted at His own coming death and resurrection as “the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39 nlt). Shouldn’t he feel compassion for an entire city. Nineveh was an Assyrian city.Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet For the most part it is easy to generate feelings of compassion for people we like. When the sailors complied.

He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Joseph was sent for and explained the dreams: there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. But Joseph replied. Starving because of the famine. Joseph was eleventh of thirteen. but God intended it all for good. Although the brothers initially plotted to kill him. A wonderful gift. Two years later. and the lives of his brothers were in the palm of his hand. “Don’t be afraid of me. Born to Jacob’s favorite wife. hoping to gain his freedom. with one sister (Dinah) and a younger brother (Benjamin). Pharaoh was so impressed he put Joseph in charge of preparing for the impending famine and elevated to second in command of Egypt under Pharaoh. Not Joseph! His integrity earned him the trust of the jailer and of his fellow prisoners. she lied to her husband. no doubt. His hard work and honesty gained him favor with Potiphar. Joseph’s dreams had come true. The family was reunited through forgiveness. son of the patriarch Jacob. Many people who have had a disappointment turn bitter toward God. Instead of taking revenge. and one that his older brothers greatly resented. Their seething anger boiled over after Joseph foolishly shared some dreams that clearly indicated his eleven brothers would one day bow down to him. Joseph had a cushy childhood as the son his father loved the most. Reuben convinced the others to sell Joseph into slavery instead and then tell their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. Joseph revealed his true identity and forgave his brothers. This was a tense moment. They decided to get rid of him once and for all. Rachel. As a result. Pharaoh had two dreams he could not decipher. Joseph wound up in Egypt as a slave to a man named Potiphar. He successfully interpreted the dreams of the pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. that I can punish you? You intended to harm me. “Look. Joseph. Am I God. we are your slaves!” they said. Joseph’s brothers journeyed to Egypt and found themselves bowing down before Joseph and begging for food.” (Genesis 50:18–20 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 111 . Son of Jacob (Old Testament): Favored Son Think you have a dysfunctional family? Wait until you hear about Joseph. Jacob even made a “beautiful robe” just for Joseph (Genesis 37:3 nlt). When he resisted her advances. but his handsome features gained him the attention of Potiphar’s wife. Joseph was thrown in prison.  Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph.

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Mary. he marries Mary. But before the marriage took place. an angel of God appeares to him in a dream. and the Gospel of John makes merely a passing reference. was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly. Whereas Mary is highlighted prominently in most Christmas pageants. the child is born. Joseph is often the silent back- drop to the action unfolding in front of him. Joseph names him Jesus. His mother. Joseph. Joseph. Instead of ending his engagement. explaining the importance of this child. Three powerful dreams. however. So again Joseph demonstrates strength and leadership by swiftly moving his family to Egypt. But Joseph’s important role in the events surrounding the birth of Jesus come into focus through the Gospel of Matthew.  This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. We first meet Joseph trying to quietly divorce his soon-to-be wife. was engaged to be married to Joseph. her fiancé. Joseph was the faithful guardian and protector of the child of promise. after discovering that she is pregnant. Largely relegated to the back pages of the history books. Three obedient responses. as far away from Herod as possible. because doing so could lead to her death by stoning. she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. this time with a warning of the imminent danger from Herod. Yet soon after Jesus’ birth. Before Joseph can carry out his decision. (Matthew 1:18–19 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 113 . Joseph is told to move back to Israel. He would be the Savior of the world. Joseph often seems to have gotten the short end of the stick. the angel of the Lord speaks to Joseph through another dream. while she was still a virgin. The Gospel of Mark doesn’t even mention his name. Son of Jacob (New Testament): Earthly Father of the Son of God Imagine being the earthly father of the most famous person who ever lived. His subtle presence was vitally important in preserving the life of the One who would later give up His life to save the world. Yet the description of Joseph in the passage below shows his quiet confidence and kindness. Mary. During a taxation journey to Joseph's hometown of Bethlehem. Joseph respondes with much the same humble obedience displayed by Mary when the angel appeared to her. so he decided to break the engagement quietly. Through a third dream. He did not want to publicly disgrace Mary. That would be Joseph.

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Then you will be successful in everything you do. for the land was filled with enemies. standing on the bank of the Jordan. the one who received the Law from God. deliverer of the people of Israel—left to fill upon his death. “. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Joshua: The Conquering Hero Did you ever have to take over a job or a task from a greatly beloved leader? Imagine the huge shoes Moses—writer of the Pen- tateuch. In one of those battles. Later Joshua was picked to represent the tribe of Ephraim as one of the twelve spies sent to scout the promised land of Canaan. right on the verge of establishing a permanent home for his people. made a passionate plea for the Israelites to continue to love and worship God alone. and one of only two who supported God’s plan to invade the land. Do not deviate from them. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. leading a detachment of troops in battle against the Amalekites. . just in sight across the river. As a result. Joshua was handpicked by Moses to be his successor as the leader of the people of Israel.Be strong and courageous. This was the land his people had envisioned since leaving Egypt. 6–9 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 115 .” (Joshua 1:1. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. God caused the sun to stand still until Joshua’s troops won the battle. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. perhaps sensing the dangers that lay ahead for the people.  After the death of Moses the Lord’s servant. Moving into the land would not be easy. Joshua led his troops in many successful battles in the campaign for Canaan. Be strong and very courageous. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. starting with the city of Jericho. turning either to the right or to the left. Moses’ assistant. . Joshua fought many other battles and at the end of his life. Imagine the fear and trepidation Joshua must have felt. But God’s promise to be with him was the only fortifier he needed. only Joshua and Caleb lived long enough to enter Canaan. He said. He was also an accomplished fighter. the Lord spoke to Joshua son of Nun. Study this Book of Instruction continually. for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.

the leaders of the early church. was the only Gentile writer. (Luke 1:1–4 nlt) 116 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . as well as many of the ordinary. Many of the stories in Acts sound like firsthand accounts because Luke was there on the spot. the Gospel of Luke contains more parables and stories from Jesus’ ministry than any of the other Gospels. there was Luke. Luke spent a significant amount of time traveling with Paul as a missionary. so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.Luke: The Missionary Doctor If you look at the writers of the Gospels. Later Luke took this carefully researched and docu- mented information and pulled it all together into the Gospel account that now bears his name. Luke.  Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. Luke was in the same boat. Although he was not one of the disciples who walked with Jesus. everyday people Jesus had touched and healed throughout His ministry. places. Being so closely associated with Paul afforded Luke the opportunity to per- sonally connect with the disciples. Indeed. I also have decided to write a careful account for you. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning. When Paul was ship- wrecked on the way to Rome. we have two of the most influential books of the Bible. Luke was known for having an outstanding command of the Greek language. Thanks to doctor-historian Luke. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. a physician. most honorable Theophilus. and dates that can all be confirmed outside the Bible. When Paul traveled in Mace- donia. from the pen of a man who loved Jesus more than his own comfort. perhaps one name sticks out among the four: Luke. as well as significant details about His birth and frequent and repeated references to historical figures.

“If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord. and she asked us to be her guests. and the head of a large household. As she listened to us. where we thought people would be meeting for prayer. As Paul preached the Gospel. The little information we have about her indicates that she had her life together—no demons or illness. ends with her warm yet insistent encourage- ment for Paul and his fellow travelers to come and stay with her. Following his normal pattern of preaching first to the Jews. selling expensive purple cloth. She was baptized along with other members of her household. and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. she is often remembered for her hospitality.  On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank. Newly arrived from across the sea. Paul ended up going out- side the city gates to the river to a small collection of Jews. God’s Spirit trans- formed her heart. but not through Paul’s eloquence or her own felt needs.” And she urged us until we agreed. Yet something remarkable happened when she met Paul. and she accepted what Paul was saying. Lydia was the first convert in Philippi. independent. as far as we know it. Paul traveled slightly inland to the Roman city of Philippi. “come and stay at my home. who worshiped God. Lydia suddenly believed.” she said. Her story. (Acts 16:13–15 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 117 . The Bible names her as some- one who worshipped God. She was at completely the opposite end of the spectrum from the tax collectors and sinners with whom Jesus had spent so much of his time. There he met Lydia gathered with some other women. just a successful business. Lydia: Convert at the River Lydia was wealthy. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira. a merchant of expensive purple cloth. one who influenced her household for God. and little in Scripture indicates her desperate need for Jesus. the Lord opened her heart. As such. which probably indicated that she was a convert to Judaism.

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Mary: The One Who Said Yes to God
Mary, the mother of God’s Son, was not a woman of great power or influ-
ence. Her young life was similar to everyone else's. Living in a tiny village
and preparing to be married, Mary had no reason to think she would be
different. But one night an angel visited her, and not just any angel, but
Gabriel, an archangel with news that would not only change Mary’s life
but life on earth in general: Mary would have a son. Not just any son—the
Son of God! Quite a promise! Stunned, Mary’s mind raced to the obvious
question—how? Through the Holy Spirit.
In a remarkable display of humility and obedience, Mary willingly gave
herself over as the Lord’s servant. A few days later she went to see her
formerly barren cousin Elizabeth, who was also pregnant, and there she
sang joyful praise to God, a song we
call “The Magnificat” (from the
Latin for “my soul magnifies,”
the first line of her song). Mary
would later play a crucial role
at a wedding in Cana, encour-
aging Jesus to perform His first
public miracle—turning water
into wine. But as Jesus’ ministry
increased, Mary was content to
fade into the background, her
part played well, her faithful ser-
vice recognized, and her role in the
event that changed world history
forever immortalized.

 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The
Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could
mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found
favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will
name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the
Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.
And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
(Luke 1:28–34 nlt)

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Mary and Martha:
Sisters, and Friends
of Jesus
What are the priorities of your life? Sisters
Mary and Martha had two very different ap-
proaches to handling a visit from their friend Jesus. During the meal prepa-
rations, however, a disagreement broke out when Martha realized that she
was doing all the work while her sister was simply sitting and listening to
Jesus. This didn’t seem fair to Martha, and she was no doubt hoping that
Jesus would side with her. Instead, He gently corrected her attitude, point-
ing out that Mary was the one who had her priorities straight, choosing
time with Jesus over preparing a meal.
The two sisters appear again in the Gospel of John, this time distraught
at the sickness and death of their brother, Lazarus. Jesus traveled to see
them. Martha, though disappointed that Jesus had not arrived in time to
heal her brother, expressed a firm faith in the power of His prayers and,
ultimately, His identity as the Messiah. Mary rejoiced when Jesus raised
Lazarus from the dead.
The sisters’ final appearance came just before Jesus’ triumphal entry into
Jerusalem, as they hosted a dinner for Him. Martha served again but this
time without complaint. Lazarus reclined at the table, no doubt glad to be
alive. And Mary, for the third time, found herself at
Jesus' feet, this time anointing them with perfume—
a symbolic prelude to His coming death and burial.

 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their
way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village
where a woman named Martha welcomed him
into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s
feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was
distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.
She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it
seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here
while I do all the work? Tell her to come and
help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you
are worried and upset over all these details! There
is only one thing worth being concerned about.
Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken
away from her.”
(Luke 10:38–42 nlt)

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Mary Magdalene: Resurrection
Eyewitness
Imagine the pain and sadness associated with seeing someone you love
die. Now imagine that instead of passing away quietly in their sleep, they
are tortured and executed. Mary Magdalene had accompanied Jesus for
quite some time, since He had cast seven demons out of her (Luke 8:2). She
was at the cross when He was crucified. She saw the life ebb out of Him
as He hung there, beaten, exposed, alone. This man who had healed her
seemed helpless, lost. Her world was spinning. Now what would she do?
After Jesus had been taken down and buried, Mary Magdalene and some
other women went to the tomb to anoint His body. What happened next
was a blur of activity, almost too much to take in. An earthquake, the stone
rolled away, and angels! Dazzling white, they struck such an awesome
sight that the Roman guards fainted out of fear, but Mary stood strong.
She had to know what had happened. The angels announced the good
news of Jesus’ resurrection. Could this really be true? Excited, fearful, sad,
Mary burst into tears. Then she saw Him. Of course, she hardly recognized
Him at first. Only when He said her name did she realize this man was her
Lord. She must have hugged Him, since the Bible then says: “‘Don’t cling
to me,’ Jesus said, ‘for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father’” (John
20:17 nlt). With grief turned into unbridled joy, Mary must have
sprinted to share the good news. Her Lord and Savior, the one who
had rescued her from demonic posses-
sion, was alive again. The nails were
gone. This was truly the beginning
of a brand-new day.

 She turned to leave and saw someone
standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t
recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you
crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you
looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,”
she said, “if you have taken him away, tell
me where you have put him, and I will go
and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out,
“Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
(John 20:14–16 nlt)

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Matthew: The Tax-Collecting Disciple
Would you give up an incredibly lucrative and financially secure job to
follow an itinerant teacher into poverty, danger, and maybe even death?
What kinds of questions or concerns would you have before signing on?
How many people would you want to run the decision past before making
a firm commitment? For Matthew, the decision was simple. Something
was so compelling, so captivating, so convincing about Jesus that when
Jesus invited Matthew (also known as Levi) to be His disciple, Matthew
immediately quit his job to do so.
Later Matthew hosted a dinner party at his house for Jesus and some of his
old friends. Matthew’s life had been transformed, turned upside-down by
an encounter with Jesus, and now he wanted everyone to have the same
experience. The invitations went out, and the party went on, despite the
sneering accusations of some Pharisees. As Jesus pointed out, “Healthy
people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Matthew knew how “sick”
he had been in his old life and was experiencing life anew as Jesus’ disciple.
Matthew’s care with finances suited him perfectly for
the careful collection of documents and details re-
garding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Later Matthew brought these disparate pieces
together into the document we now know as the
Gospel of Matthew. As someone who had per-
sonal, firsthand experience walking with the Lord,
Matthew was perhaps best suited for presenting
the crucial details of the life of Jesus to a Jewish
world that so desperately needed to hear of the
salvation offered through the Messiah.

 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at
his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to
him. So Matthew got up and followed him.
Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner
guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.
But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does
your teacher eat with such scum?”
When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a
doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning
of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I
have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who
know they are sinners.”
(Matthew 9:9–13 nlt)

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most notably from Sanballat and Tobiah. Although most of the people fell in eagerly and quickly behind his strong. they were frightened and humiliated. with God’s blessing and help. Nehemiah’s faithfulness to God. He was determined. Nehemiah had to arm the laborers and station guards to protect them as the work progressed. committed leadership. and decisive action were instrumental in reestablishing the people in Jerusalem after such a long time in exile. thus leading the people to rededicate themselves to serve God. He then called on Ezra the priest–scribe to read the Law. there was nevertheless some strong opposition. to do something about this mess.  So on October 2 the wall was finished— just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it. As the king’s cupbearer he was not in any obvious position to be able to help his people. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God. however. (Nehemiah 6:15–16 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 123 . In fact. the wall was rebuilt in just fifty-two days. he approached the king and was granted leave to go back to Judah. prayerful at- titude. Nehemiah surveyed the walls and gates of the city and acted quickly to get them rebuilt. Not only did Nehemiah work to rebuild the wall. Nevertheless. In fact. As a result of Nehemiah’s careful direction and wise planning. Nehemiah’s heart still burned with passion for the land of his ancestors. Appointed governor of Judah (Nehemiah 5:14). an event celebrated with great fanfare. the answer was an emphatic “yes. Nehemiah: The Wall Builder Is it possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never lived in? For Nehemiah. but he rebuked the wealthy nobles and officials who had been oppressing their own people.” Although he had spent his life in Persia and had grown up to become a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes I. he fell to the ground and wept. challenging them to forgive the loans and give back anything they had stolen. when Nehemiah heard that the people who had been allowed to move back after the exile were struggling to survive and were defenseless due to the city wall’s destruc- tion.

Finally. When God called out to Moses from a burning bush. The mission was met with more than a little resistance from Pharaoh. and in a nation-defining moment. incur- ring ever-worsening signs of God’s judgment in the form of ten plagues that struck the land and the people in it. for most this evokes more fear than heights. flying in an airplane. and into the Promised Land was challenging. Backed into a tight spot. Aaron. Although we think of him as a great leader. but God’s presence never left him. Despite his faithful leadership throughout their time in the desert. ‘Lord.Moses: The Reticent Deliverer Although some people are naturally gifted at public speaking. and spiders combined. Moses was not perfect and was kept from leading the people into the Prom- ised Land because of his sin. please! Send anyone else’ ” (Exodus 4:13 nlt). Surprisingly. Moses turned to God for help. telling him to go to Pharaoh. Moses received the Law on two stone tablets. God agreed to use Moses’ brother. after his oldest son was killed. enabling them to cross safely. Moses experienced the highest of highs with God and the low- est of lows wrestling with the needs and failures of the peo- ple. and demand that he let the Israelites go. he changed his mind and gave chase all the way to the Red Sea. and off they went to try to convince this wicked ruler to release God’s people out of slavery. Not surprisingly. “writ- ten by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18 nlt). the sea was parted. Pharaoh relented and the people left. “But Moses again pleaded. as his “mouthpiece” before Pharaoh (at least initially). the most powerful man in the world. and the reverence later generations would have for this man of God. to say the least. 124 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Leading a nation of people out of Egypt. across a des- ert. Sinai. Moses was not exactly quick to get on board. Reaching the mountain of God. Moses fits into the latter category.

Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel. and his entire land. (Deuteronomy 34:10–12 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 125 . and all his servants. With mighty power. There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses. whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh.

“May he bring us relief from our work and the painful labor of farming this ground that the Lord has cursed” (Genesis 5:29 nlt). adrift on a massive wooden ship filled with animals of every shape. but every living thing on the face of the planet. not just your neighborhood or your state. the first descendants of Adam and Eve were increasing in wickedness. involving a new covenant and clean slate for the people. and kind. but not before a terrible punishment had been exacted. This was the life of Noah. 126 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . no sign of anything anywhere. There is no coast to navigate by. size. Noah’s faithfulness would bring about a type of relief. if you will. “Everyone on earth was corrupt” (Genesis 6:12 nlt) except for Noah. becoming more and more evil. an apocalyptic event of such terrifying proportions that it wipes out. You and your family are the only people left alive. At this time.Noah: The Ark Builder Imagine. Noah was named with the hopeful prayer. An- gered by their sin. God announced to Noah that He would wipe everyone out except for this one man and his family. Just miles and miles of water and the floating debris left from such a calamitous flood. Born to a man named Lamech.

a mammoth task that must have taken a long time to accomplish. So God said to Noah. Once the ark was finished. After the floods receded and the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. Noah was the father of three sons: Shem. God established a covenant with Noah. and he walked in close fellowship with God. the only blameless person living on earth at the time. Moreover. and fill the earth. for everyone on earth was corrupt. for they have filled the earth with violence. their wives. multiply. Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. I will wipe them all out along with the earth! “Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar. These eight people were the only ones saved from the flood. God observed all this corruption in the world.  This is the account of Noah and his family. his wife. reiterating the command he had given Adam and Eve to be fruitful. Ham. and all the animals were sealed inside by God. Noah was a righteous man. setting a glorious rainbow in the sky as a sign of His covenant promise and great love for His people. God promised to never again send another flood. “I have decided to destroy all living creatures. the rains came and Noah. Yes. and Japheth. inside and out.” (Genesis 6:9–14 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 127 . their three sons.God gave Noah detailed instructions on how to build the ark.

had been zealously persecuting the earliest Christians. where he was later executed. Being a missionary was an exceedingly difficult task and one that ultimately cost him his life. as his final journey took him to Rome. proud Pharisee from the tribe of Benjamin. and Timothy. only to realize later on that you were horribly mistaken? Paul. an intelligent. He was on his way with orders to stamp out the Way—the name for those who followed Christ—when the risen Jesus appeared to him in a blinding vision.Paul: The Great Missionary Have you ever been convinced you were in the right about something. All of Jesus’ eleven loyal disciples were persecuted for being followers of Jesus. Paul traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean. Paul’s life was forever changed by this dramatic experience. The book of Acts lists three of his missionary journeys with companions like Luke. Silas. But Paul didn’t mind. His passion for Jesus overshadowed all other concerns. As Jesus’ newest apostle. Paul was no exception. Barnabas. He was beaten with 128 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . telling people about Jesus. and he went on to become the most famous and influential of all the apostles.

stoned to death—note that—stoned to death and raised to life. loss. broke. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God.a whip or rods eight times. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. I have not achieved it. dear brothers and sisters. No. shipwrecked three times. through Christ Jesus. Letters like Ephesians. But as a zealous follower of Christ. he was always aware that the God he served was bigger than any hardship. Philippians. Colossians.  I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. (Philippians 3:12–14 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 129 . or inconvenience. As a missionary traveling through lands where people were at times hostile to the Gospel and receptive. is calling us. but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. imprisoned. hungry—the list goes on and on. and Philemon are the prison epistles—letters written during his times of imprisonment. Paul’s concern for the church is shown through the letters that make up most of the New Testament. he was always in danger.

Peter received a special visit from Jesus after the Resurrection. despite all his protestations to the contrary. it was Peter who gave the inaugural address of the early Christian church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). but Jesus Himself gave him the name Peter instead (John 1:42). he was nonetheless consistently included with James and John in Jesus’ inner circle. which most of the other disciples missed out on. Indeed. “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered. He became a leader in the church and wrote the two letters in the New Testament that bear his name. “Get away from me. a life well lived. impulsive. with something to say in every situation. It was. It was Peter whom Jesus chose to be the “rock” on which He would establish his church (Matthew 16:13–19). Peter was perhaps the most colorful of Jesus’ disciples. or Simon. A fisherman by trade and the brother of Andrew. Peter had put his foot in his mouth. a powerful and convicting sermon that led to three thousand people coming to faith and being baptized. in an amazing display of grace. with no special training. who was once rebuked so sternly by Jesus. But it’s unlikely anyone has turned around and said to you. Such was his life. because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. “You are the Messiah.  Then he asked them. in the end. during which time he was told to feed Jesus’ sheep (John 21). But. Simon son of John. trying to make sense of what he as- sumed to be a confused or mistaken Jesus. One time Peter even got to walk on water. Peter was the one who denied Him three times. You did not learn this from any human being.Peter: The Restored Denier We’ve all said some foolish things in our lives. Sadly. However. was ultimately instrumental for much of the initial spread of Christianity throughout the region. at least until the reality of what he was doing sunk in and he followed suit (Matthew 14:29–31). Satan!” (Matthew 16:23 nlt). might be captured and put on trial. too. for sure. Brash.” Jesus replied. after Jesus had been arrested.” (Matthew 16:15–17 nlt) 130 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . only to be compared to God’s archenemy. Despite the occasional rebuke from Jesus. the Son of the living God. This ordinary man. “You are blessed. there was Peter. fearful that he. Peter’s original Jewish name was Simeon. an eyewitness to miracles like the Transfiguration.

Seeing some water. As Philip walked nearby. Philip fled to Samaria. played a significant role in the growth of the church outside Jerusa- lem. where he encountered a wealthy and prominent of the queen of Ethiopia. Philip asked. unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. “How can I.” Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. “the Evangelist” (Acts 21:8 nlt). Shortly afterward. this Philip. He was willing to go wherever the Spirit led him. Philip boldly proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus. but for some. later nicknamed.  The Holy Spirit said to Philip. “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied. Not to be confused with one of the lesser-known disciples from Bethsaida. when persecution broke out shortly after Stephen was stoned to death.Philip: The Evangelist How comfortable do you feel sharing your most closely held beliefs with other people? For many of us. it’s awkward and difficult. and so he asked him if he understood what he was reading. “Go over and walk along beside the carriage. This led to a discussion about Jesus and pretty soon the man was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah Isaiah had spoken about. he overheard the eunuch reading from the book of Isaiah. it just comes naturally. like Philip. However. (Acts 8:29–31 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 131 . Philip headed south under the direction of an angel of the Lord. His official ministry started when he was selected as one of seven men who were given responsibility for taking care of feeding the widows and distributing food to those in need in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1–7). returning from Jerusalem. he was baptized immediately. where he discovered an entirely new gift as an evangelist.

but forced out under persecution by Claudius Caesar. though equally important. sup- porting Paul and training others like Apollos. they took him to one side to share what they had learned about Jesus from Paul. they found themselves living in Corinth where they met Paul. This married couple never worked in the limelight themselves but had a powerful and significant minis- try nonetheless. in Egypt. Priscilla and Aquila must have had a close relationship with Paul. did believe. Priscilla and Aquila: Behind-the-Scenes Workers Whatever we may like to tell our children about their potential to be and do anything. for when he left Corinth to sail across the sea to Ephesus. and so are all the Gentile churches. and her husband. most of us will play far less glamorous. When Pris- cilla and Aquila heard him. Paul left Ephesus fairly soon afterward. and started preaching about Jesus. Tentmakers from Italy originally. A short while later. (Romans 16:3–4 nlt) 132 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . I am thankful to them. the real- ity is that while some are gifted to be CEOs and presidents. they realized that he didn’t have a complete understanding of Jesus. but this time left Priscilla and Aquila.  Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila. and he then sailed off for Achaia where he preached powerfully. they once risked their lives for me. Such was the situation for Priscilla. The Jews were hostile to his message. Rather than critique him publicly. they went with him. like Crispus. a gifted young intellectual arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria. getting “fame” and public recognition. In fact. and Paul's motivation was so low that God even had to speak to him in a vision to encourage him. sometimes called Prisca. although some. roles behind the scenes. Paul had a hard time preaching in Corinth. This extra ministry training filled out the picture for Apollos. Aquila. my co-workers in the ministry of Christ Jesus.

a life lived far away from her home and everything she knew and was familiar with? What would you choose? For Ruth. Ruth’s great-grandson David would end up sitting on the throne in Jerusalem. the wealthy owner of the fields. Ruth: Loyal Friend Ruth was at a crossroads. she assured Naomi of her continued loyalty. where she had a good chance of finding another husband? Or would she follow Naomi into the unknown world of Israel. I will go. and your God will be my God. would she take her mother-in-law.  Ruth replied. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her. As a further reward to Ruth. The blessing he gave to her came true when he agreed to act as the kinsman-redeemer by redeeming the property Naomi might have sold and thus agreeing to marry Ruth. Orpah). During this process she caught the eye of Boaz. Wherever you die. Widowed at a young age. He was impressed with her and made a public declaration affirming her loyalty to her mother-in-law and her good reputation. wherever you live. advice and return to her home and her people in Moab (as had her sister-in-law. Naomi’s. I will die. “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. I will live. saving both Ruth and Naomi from a life of poverty and disgrace. the answer was simple. Wherever you go. and there I will be buried. In perhaps one of the most profound declarations of faithful obedience in the Bible. This she faithfully brought to Naomi for them to eat. she said nothing more. Naomi’s hometown. Upon arrival in Bethlehem. where she faced a life of loneliness and perpetual widow- hood. (Ruth 1:16–18 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 133 . Your people will be my people. Ruth took on the humble task of gleaning: going into the fields to collect the grain leftover after the harvest.

A Nazirite did not drink fermented beverages or cut his hair. he was supposed to rescue Israel from the Philistines. he escaped and. what he possessed by way of physical prowess often seems to have been missing in terms of wisdom and judgment. what would you do? He may not have been able to fly. collapsing the building and killing over three thousand people. his behavior makes it hard to see how he truly remained ritually pure to God in the process. tied torches to their tails. his hair grew back. one of the more colorful characters in the Bible. he was chosen to be one of Israel’s judges—the special leaders who helped deliver their people from the persecution of their enemies. he flew into a rage and killed thirty men after they convinced his wife to give them an answer to a riddle. he later returned and. Although he left his wife behind in his anger. Despite these incredible feats. Sadly. John the Baptist was a Nazirite. On the way to the wedding. was gifted with almost superhuman strength. he killed a lion with his bare hands. his birth was announced by an angel who said that Samson was to be a lifelong Nazirite—one set apart for a special purpose. this long-haired superhero certainly began to rescue the people from the Philistines. but Samson. However. he prayed to God for strength. At the wedding feast itself. Moreover. With the help of his amazing strength. Samson’s story took an unexpected turn when he insisted on marrying a Philistine woman. A Philistine named Delilah tricked him into revealing that his hair was the source of his strength. The trap was sprung. 134 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . God allowed him super strength once more. after discovering she was married to another man. killed one thousand Philistines. and he later returned to eat honey out of its carcass. Dur- ing a great feast in the Philistine temple. using the jawbone of a donkey. A hidden Philistine cut off his hair. Captured by some of his people who were frustrated at his “frat boy” exploits. Born about 1000 BC to parents who thought they were infertile. Although his eyes were plucked out and he was thrown into prison. rendering him easy to capture. With these gifts. Samson was ultimately brought down by his womanizing. caught three hundred foxes. In death he had regained honor.Samson: A Flawed Superhero If you could be Superman (or Superwoman) for a day. He knocked over the pillars of the temple. and destroyed the Philistines’ crops. Given the angel’s announcement. including himself.

“for he has finally told me his secret. and his strength left him. Finally. If my head were shaved. my strength would leave me.” So the Philistine rulers returned with the money in their hands.” he confessed. In this way she began to bring him down. “for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. (Judges 16:17-19 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 135 . “Come back one more time. so she sent for the Philistine rulers.” Delilah realized he had finally told her the truth. Samson shared his secret with Delilah. and I would become as weak as anyone else. “My hair has never been cut. Delilah lulled Samson to sleep with his head in her lap.” she said. and then she called in a man to shave off the seven locks of his hair.

what do you do when it is the people themselves who are clamoring for a king? Living about one thousand years before Christ. which came to pass. Samuel was destined to be a spiritual leader long before he could even read a scroll. Samuel had the hard task of telling him that the kingdom would be taken away and given to a man after God’s own heart—the young shepherd David. and if someone calls again. Most of the time. “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied. started off well but ended poorly. your servant is listening. Saul. One night he heard a voice calling out his name. he did as they asked. After serving the people for many years as a prophet and a judge. Eli's sons chose corruption. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. And the Lord came and called as before. So he said to Samuel. ‘Speak.’” So Samuel went back to bed. she kept her promise and sent him to live with the priest Eli in the tabernacle at Shiloh. and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. Samuel was surprised and upset when they demanded to have a king just like other nations. say. When Samuel died. Samuel found himself in just this situation. Responding accordingly. your servant is listening. Samuel was trained from a young age to serve the Lord. So the Lord called a third time. Once again. while Samuel chose to walk in the ways of the Lord. “Speak. warning them that they would come to regret that decision. When his once barren mother Hannah prayed for a son. he soon discovered it to be God. the first king of Israel. Lord. he received a prophetic word of judg- ment against Eli and his sons. in a time when the Philistines still posed a significant threat to the fledgling country of Israel. Samuel: Prophet and Priest Throughout history there are numerous examples of civilizations rebelling against their monarchs.  Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. However. “Go and lie down again. Ironically.” (1 Samuel 3:7–10 nlt) 136 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Although he rebuked them. “Here I am. she promised to dedicate him to the Lord. most people want to get as far away from absolute rulers as possible. When Samuel was born. the whole nation mourned for him. Although at first he assumed it to be Eli. his warning came to pass.

“God has brought me laughter. Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!” (Genesis 21:4–7 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 137 . Given their advanced age. But the greatest challenge of all was barrenness. when she was ninety years old. All who hear about this will laugh with me. whom they named Isaac. Sarah actually laughed out loud and was gently rebuked by God as a result. “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child. when some visitors appeared from God to confirm this promise. God’s promise came true. was challenging at times. the great patriarch. even going so far as to encourage him to sleep with a concubine. promised to give them a son. A year later. For most of her life. or “laughter. this promise seemed laughable. Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. God’s call to leave their extended family and move to a strange land. and indeed. Sarah may have struggled at times with the incredible pressures to bear Abraham a son. Sarah had a son. Sarah and Sarai mean “princess. However. but ultimately her faith was rewarded by God and celebrated by the author of the New Testament book of Hebrews. God. Sarah was actually named Sarai.  Eight days after Isaac was born. Sarah: Unlikely Mother What do you plan to do in your retirement years? Would raising an infant figure into those plans? At an age when many people consider that life might be about to end. however.” Marriage to Abraham. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. And Sarah declared. God told Abram about the covenant he was making with them and Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah. though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise” (Hebrews 11:11 nlt). a new life within Sarah was just beginning. Abraham’s request to pretend that they were not married and thus avoid conflict with the pharaoh who wished to marry Sarah—these were chal- lenges Sarah faced.” a name given by God and reflective of their response to God’s promise.

he failed to obey God’s direct command to destroy the Amalekites and was formally and completely rejected by God as a result. Demonstrating the depths to which he had sunk. appointed by God and anointed by the great judge and prophet Samuel. his son Jonathan was killed. that’s usually not a very good sign. the first king of Israel. Although he had some suc- cesses. with help from his son Jonathan. he is ultimately remembered more for his failures. resulting in Samuel’s promise that his king- dom would end and another man would be raised up in his place. After making a rash vow that almost resulted in the death of his own son. Saul made a series of poor spiritual decisions. Although Saul officially retained the title of king for quite some time after this. anxiety. He led further assaults on the Philistines. the Spirit of the Lord helped Saul lead the people to a decisive victory over the Ammonites. and ultimately Saul himself committed suicide rather than be captured. Saul looked the part of a king: tall and handsome. When King Nahash of Ammon threatened to attack one of the towns of Israel.  Saul was thirty years old when he became king. and he reigned for forty-two years. An ignoble end to a mostly embarrassing reign. Although born into the “least important” family of the smallest tribe in Israel.Saul: Flawed First King When you are ready to present your new king to an eager and expectant public but you can’t find him because he’s hiding in fear among some luggage. Saul. Saul even sought the advice of a medium before fighting his final battle against the Philistines. as a negative example of how not to lead. but in his impatience offered un- lawful sacrifices to God. (1 Samuel 13:1 nlt) 138 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . never seemed to wear the title very well. The ensuing conflict was an utter defeat. Although mostly successful mili- tarily. and bouts of paranoia as the kingdom slipped slowly from his hands. he suffered terri- bly from depression.

. “she talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38 nlt). praying and fasting. Jews and Gentiles alike.” In this prayer. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Simeon knew right away this was the child. and the Lord “had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah” (Luke 2:26 nlt). Simeon and Anna enjoyed a special place in the life of Jesus as devout Jews who recognized His true identity even before He could say a word.  At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. and she spent her entire life in the temple. Simeon revealed that this baby would be “a light to reveal God to the nations. Simeon. Anna.” referring back to the prophecies in Isaiah that indicated that God’s salvation would one day extend to all people. Simeon gave a note of caution. 38 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 139 . Her commitment to God was absolute. Simeon was there. Nevertheless. Imagine hearing such a blessing pronounced over your baby! “Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him” (Luke 2:33 nlt). He took the child in his arms and praised God. and she began praising God. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. and he offered a remarkable prophetic prayer of bless- ing. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. “Nunc Dimittis. she also broke out into spontaneous praise. was a “righteous and devout” man. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required. still referred to today in some church settings by its Latin title. . (Luke 2:25–28. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. whom the Bible refers to as a prophet. Simeon and Anna: Faithful Believers To hold the Savior of the world in your arms. Indeed. She was eighty-four years old and a long-time widow. To see His face and know that one day He would fulfill all the prophecies and rescue His people from bond- age. Sure enough. was also there and saw what was going on. What an incredible moment. he was in the temple when Mary and Joseph showed up to dedicate Jesus. When she saw and heard Simeon holding Jesus and offering his prayer. warning that this special baby would cause Mary significant personal emotional pain. . we are told. as she would have to watch His rejection by the people He had come to save. [Anna] came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph.

and Abednego replied.” Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach. and Azariah. Your Majesty. and good-looking young men…well versed in every branch of learning…gifted with knowledge and good judgment… suited to serve in the royal palace” (Daniel 1:3–4 nlt). At a young age. “O Nebuchadnezzar. How will you respond to such a sudden change? What do you do when the person you serve is so fickle and temperamental? These three young men experienced some significant highs and terrible lows but. Meshach. These were talented and gifted men. But even if he doesn’t. throughout it all. (Daniel 3:16–19 nlt) 140 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . However. healthy. Meshach. The next moment. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace. that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. thrown under the metaphorical bus. In fact. you’re being fired. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. “some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families…only strong. we do not need to defend ourselves before you. Hananiah was renamed Shadrach. they were taken into exile to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. kept their focus on God. the king “found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom” (Daniel 1:20 nlt). never turning to the left or the right. He will rescue us from your power. who wanted. Meshach. Your Majesty. Mishael became Meshach. Abednego.Shadrach. the God whom we serve is able to save us. and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. Arriving in Babylon they were given new names.  Shadrach. and Abednego: Men Tested by Fire One minute you’re being praised for how awesome and talented you are. we want to make it clear to you.

the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in” (Daniel 3:22 nlt). Yet. Although their story is brief. representing God’s powerful presence with them. In fact. “They didn’t even smell of smoke!” (Daniel 3:27 nlt). Their survival is important. This wasn’t like the hot coals people sometimes walk on. but more significant is the mysterious “fourth man” Nebuchadnezzar saw walking around with them in the fire. these prayer-filled obedient young men attest to the sovereign power of God over all human kings and rulers. miraculously they emerge completely unscathed. for many think he may have been the preincarnate Christ. had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace.when they refused to bow down to a massive golden idol the king had ordered everyone to worship. “because the king. Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 141 . they were thrown into a fiery furnace. in his anger. this was a raging fire.

but during his reign as only the third king of Israel. but at the same time. although Solomon is often remembered for his unsurpassed wisdom (he is credited with having written most of the book of Proverbs. but later in life he let himself be led astray into polytheism. as we read his life now.Solomon: Wise and Foolish King Perhaps you’ve heard the tale of King Midas. But despite all this wealth. “Wasn’t this exactly what led King Solomon of Israel into sin?” I demanded. This man put even the wealthiest people today to shame. Under his rule. Song of Songs. it is clear that he didn’t always live up to his own high-minded ideals. And valuable cedar timber was as common as the sycamore-fig trees” (1 Kings 10:27 nlt). He centralized power in Jerusalem and solidified the national identity of Israel. But even he was led into sin by his foreign wives” (Nehemiah 13:26 nlt). but his poor decisions set the stage for the civil war that would follow soon after his death. For a quick glimpse into his lavish lifestyle. 142 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . read 1 Kings 10:14–29. Finally. The Bible even says that “he made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone. it was Solomon. Perhaps at the high point of his life he built a temple for God. Ecclesiastes. he heavily taxed his own people to finance his massive building projects. the fabled Greek king whose very touch turned everything into gold. a significant moment in the history of Israel. and a couple of psalms). Many years later Nehemiah would use Solomon as a negative example of how not to behave. If ever there was someone with a Midas touch. “There was no king from any nation who could compare to him. King Solomon may not have had those exact powers. and God loved him and made him king over all Israel. Solomon was a mixed bag as a king. or maybe because of it. the country experienced a time of peace and relative prosperity. he managed to amass more wealth and power than any other king before or since.

 “Now. but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. O Lord my God. “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!” (1 Kings 3:7–13 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 143 . you have made me king instead of my father. So God replied. David. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.

However. full of the Holy Spirit. gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God. is one of the very few examples of stoning we find in the Bible. the high council of religious leaders in Jerusalem. “Lord. Lots of them. This is no quick execution. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. the main focus being on the persistent rebellion of people. Stephen was given a vision of Jesus stand- ing at the right hand of God. “Lord Jesus. I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. But Stephen. and his death came about because of his bold proclamation of Jesus as the Son of God. set in contrast to the covenantal faithfulness of God. More than a mere speech. Luke. As they stoned him. he died. Stephen prayed. the author of the book of Acts. this was an amazingly eloquent description of God’s hand at work throughout the history of the people of Israel. “Look. As the mob clamored around him. (Acts 7:54–60 nlt) 144 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . As a result. one of the first leaders in the early church. and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Asked to defend himself. Stephen was ready with a very clear presentation of what he believed. ”a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5) was initially chosen simply to help serve food to the widows and other hungry people so the apostles could devote their time to preaching and teach- ing. When he  The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation. Stephen. and they shook their fists at him in rage. Stephen. he was arrested and brought to stand trial before the Sanhedrin. Just rocks. And he told them. shouting. it soon became obvious that there was something different about Stephen. there’s no guillotine-like precision.” He fell to his knees. receive my spirit. notes that here was a “man full of God’s grace and power [who] performed amazing miracles and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8 nlt). don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that.Stephen: First Martyr Being stoned to death was (and still is) one of the most terrible ways to be killed.

and stoned him to death. but in God’s providence this in turn led to the expansion of the Gospel into entirely new locales. Stephen prayed. “As they stoned him. receive my spirit. “Lord Jesus.” He fell to his knees. they flew into a rage. took him outside. “Lord. he died” (Acts 7:59 nlt). Stephen’s death unleashed such significant persecution in Jerusalem that the disciples scattered.said this out loud to the people gathered to hear his testimony. don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that. Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 145 . shouting.

For the most part. Stuck with simply hearing about the event from everyone else. When Jesus first ap- peared to the disciples. he put his foot down 146 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .Thomas: Honest Doubter It may come as a surprise to some people.” Thomas was not there and missed this momentous occasion. he seems to have remained in the background—at least until after the resurrection. Although he was not one of the main disciples. it’s a normal and natural part of the spiritual life of every follower of Jesus. We don’t really know much about Thomas’s life. where he came from. In fact. who were huddled in fear “behind locked doors. or what he was like. Thankfully we can look back at the life of Thomas and see that even someone who walked every day with Jesus Himself still had trouble wrapping his head around something as huge as the resurrection. even if that meant imprisonment and death (John 11:16). but even pastors sometimes experience doubts about their faith. we do know that he was willing to follow Jesus.

‘You believe because you have seen me. as if sensing this would be the case. but to place his fin- gers on them. Addressing Thomas directly. and this time Thomas was with them. “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands.and declared emphatically. and look at my hands. not to just see the wounds. They told him. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me. and place my hand into the wound in his side. “You believe because you have seen me.  One of the twelve disciples. “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands.” he said.” (John 20:24–29 nlt) Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 147 . But. It was over a week later before he got his wish. Believe!” “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. Don’t be faithless any longer. The result was praise and worship. “Put your finger here. The doors were locked. but suddenly. Perhaps we all wish we could reach out and touch Jesus. Jesus was standing among them. he encouraged him to reach out and touch him. was not with the others when Jesus came. They were behind locked doors once again.” Eight days later the disciples were together again. and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25 nlt). “Jesus told [Thomas]. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Thomas included. as before. Then he said to Thomas. Then Jesus told him. just to know for sure He is real. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me’” (John 20:29). “‘My Lord and my God!’ Thomas exclaimed” (John 20:28 nlt). “Peace be with you. and Jesus appeared to them all. put my fingers into them. put my fingers into them. “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied. Thomas (nicknamed the Twin).

just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Paul even sent him to the troubled church in Corinth. and often struggling with physical illness. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. There are even two letters written directly to Timothy from Paul. Timothy knew these moments all too well—worrying about his youth. I long to see you again. Probably the last letter he ever received from Paul begins. although that seems not to have happened. There will always be those dark days at work or at home when we feel like a fraud waiting to be unmasked as the incompetent fools that we convince ourselves we are. doubts. Timothy was clearly a significant and close personal friend and colaborer for Christ with Paul. always referred to with terms of endearment. such that when Paul came back through Lystra on his second missionary journey. Timothy traveled extensively with Paul and was entrusted to help encour- age and teach one of the young churches Paul had established in Thes- salonica. Timothy's mother and his grandmother. He was born into a mixed family living in Lystra. Although his father was Greek. he called Timothy to join him (Acts 16:1–5). Eunice. (2 Timothy 1:5–7 nlt) 148 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . considered timid and shy by some. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity. “Timothy. I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience. This faith they in turn passed on to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5) who grew quickly to maturity. Timothy’s name is scattered throughout Paul’s letters. confident that Timothy could turn them around. Lois had come to faith in Christ as a result of Paul’s first missionary journey. for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. his mother. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again” (2 TImothy 1:3–4 nlt). was Jewish. requiring further strong letters from Paul himself. for I remember your tears as we parted. and self- discipline.Timothy: Protégé Pastor We all carry around insecurities. encouraging him to remain strong in the faith and to persevere in the work God had called him to complete. Despite having a very clear call to ministry. love. and fears. but of power. Eunice. a small town in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).  I remember your genuine faith.

Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 149 .

150 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .

 . Ever wonder where they are in the Bible or what they mean? Here are some of the most known quotes from the Bible and what they mean. Overheard Quotes T here are many quotes from the King James Version of the Bible in use every day. Over the centuries they have become part of our lexicon. Maybe you’ve said a few yourself.

who were never given God’s law and requirements.”  For when the Gentiles. Paul was telling the Jewish leaders that God wrote His laws on the hearts of humankind. do by nature the things contained in the law. (Romans 2:14-15) 152 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . were not subject to these rules but were also not entitled to any of the blessings mentioned. Numbers. are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts. The Jews were given the law of Moses and the Pentateuch (Genesis. Leviticus. “a law unto themselves” was specifically referring to the Gentiles. Even if a Gentile had never heard the law. Disobeying the Law meant punishment. which have not the law. and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. having not the law. But this quote came from the apostle Paul. these. and Deuteronomy) as God’s written rules or laws for their lives. their conscience also bearing witness.“A law unto themselves” Many people use this phrase today to refer to a person or a group of people who decide for themselves what is right or wrong without any oversight by other authorities. Upholding the Law meant favor in the sight of God and blessing. the person knew right from wrong in his heart and was therefore a “law unto himself. In this context. Exodus. Many Jews thought that the Gentiles.

the Pharisees accused him of being demon-possessed. and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. They could not bring themselves to believe that Jesus was really God. Leaning on language he had picked up from the Bible. “A house divided” This phrase became part of our common language after an important speech given by Abraham Lincoln in 1858. And Jesus knew their thoughts. If He Himself were demon-possessed. but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. After Jesus healed a demon-possessed man. Jesus carefully replied that such an accusation didn’t make any sense. (Matthew 12:24-25. they said. see also Luke 11:17) Overheard Quotes | 153 . Lincoln used this phrase to emphasize the need for unity in a country that was divided over the issue of slavery. and sought to use this moment to discredit His ability to perform miracles. This fellow doth not cast out devils. why would He cast out a demon (a house divided)? Would He not be trying instead to keep demons in (a house united)?  But when the Pharisees heard it. Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. and said unto them. But the quote originally came from Jesus.

(1 Samuel 13:13–14) 154 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people. which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee. Although he started strong. This “man after his own heart” was David. his reign soon deteriorated and led to a stunning rebuke from God. Saul had been appointed king over all of Israel. had bad news for Saul: Saul’s failure to keep God’s laws would result in the kingdom being taken away from him and given instead to someone who would keep God’s laws. doing everything humanly possibly to know and please the Lord.“A man after his own heart” We most often use this phrase today to refer to someone who is of the same mind-set as us. Samuel. Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart. In this case the original biblical reference means roughly the same thing. the Bible is clear that David indeed sought after God with every part of his life. Although he was not perfect by any measure. God’s prophet.  And Samuel said to Saul. In this passage.

He found him in a desert land.  For the Lord’s portion is his people. when the translators were looking for a phrase that captured the sense of endearment and loving protection associated with this passage.” And now. the phrase “apple of my eye” was in fairly common usage. Its use here emphasizes the passion- ate love of the Lord for the people he rescued out of slavery in Egypt and also a deep sense of protectiveness. “Apple of his eye” The original Hebrew actually says something along the lines of “the little man of his eye. just a few years earlier Shakespeare had used this image in his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For example. (Deuteronomy 32:9–10. today. he kept him as the apple of his eye. they turned “little man of his eye” into “apple of his eye. see also Zechariah 2:8) Overheard Quotes | 155 . we continue to use this terminology to refer to someone or something highly regarded. Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. he instructed him. and in the waste howling wilderness. So.” Whatever that may mean exactly. the intention is crystal clear: this is a term of great affection. he led him about. By the time the King James Version of the Bible was produced.

 They reel to and fro. The Lord alone brings them out of their troubles and restores their feet to solid ground. The psalmist is conveying deep mental and emotional distress. At this point. The sailors in the passage have lost their courage and physical strength and are powerless against the storm. For he commandeth.  They that go down to the sea in ships. and raiseth the stormy wind. We can thank the translators of the King James Bible for making this such a common phrase today. which lifteth up the waves thereof. and a more wooden translation would be something like “Their wisdom was confused. and stagger like a drunken man. and his wonders in the deep. these see the works of the Lord. that do business in great waters.“At my wits‘ end” When we talk today about being at our “wits' end” what we really mean is that we no longer know what to do. The psalms were originally written in Hebrew. They mount up to the heaven. and are at their wits‘ end. they had come to the end of their wit (wisdom). It conveys a sense of distress that goes beyond mere indecision. (Psalm 107:23–27) 156 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . the only person they can turn to is God. There are seemingly no other options left. they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. The same is true for us today.” In other words.

They were supposed to be the experts of the law and prided themselves on this knowledge. The concept originally came from a biting commentary directed at the Pharisees. They were so intent on following the law that they ended up missing the One at whom the law ultimately pointed: Jesus.”  And [Jesus} called the multitude. and said unto him. Hear. Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended. shall be rooted up. and said unto them. they repeatedly failed to see the purpose of God’s law. this defileth a man. but that which cometh out of the mouth. By their insistence on leading others when they themselves didn’t understand the underlying truth. both shall fall into the ditch. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. after they heard this saying? But he answered and said. which my heavenly Father hath not planted. Jesus named them “blind leaders. Jesus used the imagery of a blind person leading another blind person to highlight the foolishness of the Pharisees. Every plant. see also Luke 6:39) Overheard Quotes | 157 . and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man. Yet at the same time. Then came his disciples. (Matthew 15:10-14. And if the blind lead the blind. “The blind leading the blind” The blind leading the blind is an admission of confusion or ignorance about something.

A deer bolting at the last second as an arrow flies over its head might be said to escape by the skin of its teeth. even though his “friends” are accusing him of having committed some kind of secret sin instead of comforting or helping him. the translators simply made a direct word-for-word translation: “with the skin of my teeth. Throughout this passage Job cries out for justice.” The point here is that Job has escaped death. The resulting English idiom has lost this overarching context and come to refer simply to any kind of narrow escape.“By the skin of our teeth” This line from the book of Job is considered too difficult to translate be- cause the underlying Hebrew meaning is less than clear.  My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh. (Job 19:20) 158 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . for a Redeemer who will support his cause. When working on the King James Version of the Bible. and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

since the answer is no. Having just assured the people that they would be taken away into captivity as a result of their failure to obey God’s commands and their repeated worship of false gods and idols.  And if thou say in thine heart. the phrase has lost this sense of prophetic judgment and most often is used to mean simply that we should accept people the way they are. of course. or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good. that are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:22–23) Overheard Quotes | 159 . of course not. and thy heels made bare. These days. We find this phrase in the book of Jeremiah. Their behavior had come to define them completely. which describes the impend- ing invasion and capture of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. Can the Ethiopian change his skin. Jeremiah now told them that they had become so accustomed to rebelling against God that they no longer knew how to do good. For them to change now would be as im- possible as a leopard chang- ing his spots. Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered. for after all. “can a leopard change his spots?” Clearly this a rhetorical question. “Can a leopard change his spots?” Sometimes we look at a person entrenched in a harmful lifestyle and wonder if that person will ever change. The pessimist might answer in the negative.

The exaggerated image of beautiful and highly valued precious pearls being cast into a pigsty was meant to be over the top. while pigs repre- sent everything that is dirty and messy. thus making the comparison even more extreme. The only additional twist for Jesus’ audience would have been that pigs were ritually unclean animals. What Jesus seems to be warning about here is getting involved with people who have become so hardened against the Gospel that presenting the truth to them would be almost as ridiculous and pointless as giving a pearl necklace to a pig.  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs. neither cast ye your pearls before swine. this common phrase is most often used as a warning to be careful with the gifts that have been entrusted to us. The context for this word picture is one of Jesus’ most well-known sermons: the Sermon on the Mount. and turn again and rend you. (Matthew 7:6) 160 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Pearls continue to symbolize beauty and perfection. lest they trample them under their feet. It is an exhortation to prudence and caution.“Don’t cast your pearls before swine” Broadly speaking.

and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold.  Behold. He alone is the creator. maker. he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. Indeed. however mighty a nation might become. “Drop in the bucket” Whether it’s a “drop of a bucket” (kjv) or a “drop in a bucket” (niv). However highly we may regard ourselves. the essential meaning is the same: a single drop of water is inconsequential compared to an entire bucket of water. Isaiah uses this imagery to emphasize the majesty of the almighty God. and sustainer of all things. They can’t even be compared. and almost imperceptible to any merchant using scales. Isaiah continues. greater than anything or anyone in nature. Such vivid imagery is a scathing rebuke both of the nations who thought so highly of themselves and also of the people of God who looked to these seemingly powerful nations for help. (Isaiah 40:15) Overheard Quotes | 161 . they are “as the small dust of the balance”— completely irrelevant. ultimately everything pales in comparison to the Lord who made all things. The intent of the pas- sage is clear: the Lord alone is in control. the nations are as a drop of a bucket.

After returning to Canaan God then reiterates a promise made in Genesis 12:2–3 to Abram with this rich metaphor of offspring “as the dust of the earth. the promise of not just land. One of Abram’s descendants would be the promised Messiah. Genesis.  And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth. Obviously the image is an exaggeration—no human could possibly have that many descendants. The biblical source for this image comes in the first book of the Bible.” For a culture in which children were everything. When he arrives. however. we read in Genesis 12 about a man named Abram. whom God tells to move from Haran to Canaan. (Genesis 13:16) 162 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . and Abram would have known that.“Dust of the earth” Talk about “the dust of the earth” generally conveys two related images: something widespread or ordinary. there is a famine in the land and he moves down to Egypt to look for food. was highly significant. then shall thy seed also be numbered. After the Flood. who would make it possible for us to be adopted into the family of Abram as his spiritual descendants. Yet God described something bigger than Abram or any of his contemporaries could have imagined. but a family that would last for generations.

 Then I commended mirth. and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life. Solomon encourages us to embrace and enjoy the high points of life when we can. The overwhelming message of the Bible is that our primary goal in life is to love and serve God. All too often the rich and lazy appear to be blessed. drink. than to eat. and be merry” Is Solomon advocating a life of partying and excess? Such a philosophy of life undergirds hedonism and the pursuit of all kinds of materialism. Solomon starts this train of thought with the perplexing observation that life never seems to work out the way we expect it to. (Ecclesiastes 8:15) Overheard Quotes | 163 . Solomon was speaking into a predominantly agrarian culture. Whatever our circumstances. whereas the poor and hardworking seem to be cursed. this verse has to be considered in the light of all of Scripture. where hard work was the expected norm for all of life. we are here to glorify God. Second. and to drink. so what is it doing in the Bible? First. “Eat. But for Solomon the solution comes from outside—God. which God giveth him under the sun. because a man hath no better thing under the sun. A naturalistic “cause-and-effect” view of life cannot balance this awkward equation.

see also Exodus 21:24. laws had to be established to help govern behavior. The Israelites had been living as slaves under the brutally oppressive hand of the pharaoh of Egypt for hundreds of years and didn’t know any other existence. but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18). nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people.“Eye for an eye” These verses about crime and punishment are often cited as the legal basis for capital punishment—the death penalty. And he that killeth a beast shall make it good. When God gave Moses the Law. Deuteronomy 19:21. breach for breach. (Leviticus 24:17–20.  And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man. so shall it be done to him again. He was establishing a people and a na- tion for Himself. beast for beast. eye for eye. These com- mands were a part of that system. The concept feeds into our innate human desire for retribution. And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour. Matthew 5:38) 164 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . as he hath done. but rather than encourage revenge. God opposed the culturally acceptable practice of vengeance: “Thou shalt not avenge. so shall it be done to him. they actually stood against it. In a world where there were no courts or judges or police.

Although the idiom may have originated with Aesop. “False prophets. whose writing predates the New Testament by five hundred years. that over time there would come many teachers. Either way. and all future generations of believers. Jesus used it to warn His disciples about false prophets seeking to lead people away from God. which come to you in sheep’s clothing” The image of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is of uncertain origin. leaders. it’s possible that it entered popular thought through the first English translation of the Bible by John Wycliffe. Others say that it was an already common image made popular by Aesop.  Beware of false prophets. see also Matthew 24:24. but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Jesus tells the disciples. Some say that it originated in the fables of Aesop. or “prophets” who would come across as “sheep” but actually would be something far more sinister—“ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15. Mark 13:22) Overheard Quotes | 165 . The context for this warning from Jesus is the long collection of teaching referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. Throughout the centuries there have been any number of false prophets—people claiming to be sent from God but with messages that have actually led people away from God.” This prophecy has sadly come true. which come to you in sheep’s clothing.

The way in which we use this phrase is roughly analogous to saying that a message “fell on deaf ears.“Fell on rocky ground” The passage comes from one of Jesus’ more well-known parables and uses common farming language to express a spiritual truth. some seed falls on good soil and grows and produces significant fruit. The seed represents the message of the kingdom of God. by extension. In doing so. What sets this parable apart from many others is that Jesus actually spells out the meaning for His disciples and. Some falls on rocky ground and dies before the completion of its growth because of the lack of soil.  Some fell upon stony places.” To “fall upon stony places” means that either people are not listening or not interested. He casts the seed far and wide. because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up. only to fall away suddenly because the message has not taken root. where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up. they were scorched. Others hear the message and start to grow. Jesus presents a farmer sowing seed. Finally. they withered away. Some people hear the message but it is snatched away by Satan before it can even take root. In His parable. for us as well. some falls on the path and is eaten by birds. (Matthew 13:5–6) 166 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . and because they had no root. Some falls among thorns that eventually choke the plant to death.

lay hold on eternal life. however. Paul told Timothy that he was in a fight of faith.” Timothy’s battle wasn’t about proving athletic prowess or asserting his opinion.  Fight the good fight of faith. “Fight the good fight” Taking a phrase out of context certainly can change the meaning! People will often say. we need to fight against the sin in our lives and the temptations of the world lest we be led astray. and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. a fight for eternal life. whereunto thou art also called. “Fight the good fight” in reference to overcoming an injury or battling back against insurmountable odds. The complete phrase is actually an exhortation to “fight the good fight of faith. Having received such a gift. This encouragement is not about Timothy merely doing the best he can or passively enduring tough times but actively pursuing and grabbing hold of “eternal life.” We don’t work for salvation—a gift from God. We tend to use it as a syn- onym for “Hang in there!” or “Do the best you can!” Paul was writing to Timothy to encourage him to not lose hope in his work for God. (1 Timothy 6:12) Overheard Quotes | 167 . Nor was this a fight against physical infirmity or financial setback.

and the event lodged itself in the history of Israel as an example of the danger that idolatry poses.  And Aaron said unto them. which are in the ears of your wives. object. Break off the golden earrings. After Moses had been on Mount Sinai for forty days. often represented by a cow or bull’s head. And he received them at their hand. and bring them unto me. He was believed to be the god of creation and the waters.“Golden calf” “A golden calf” usually refers to anything that becomes more important to us than God: a person. (Exodus 32:3–4) 168 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . God had given Moses a commandment against the very thing that they were doing. They worshipped the golden calf until Moses came down from the mountain and rebuked them for their sin. O Israel. The idea traces back to an event that happened while God was giving Moses the Ten Command- ments after leading the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. after he had made it a molten calf: and they said. God punished them for idolatry. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears. and fashioned it with a graving tool. These be thy gods. of your sons. and of your daughters. One of the first Egyptian gods was Khnum. The people melted down their golden jewelry to create a golden calf. or aspiration. the people became anxious and demanded that Aaron the high priest make them something tangible to worship. and brought them unto Aaron.

came where he was: and when he saw him. and whatsoever thou spendest more. I will repay thee. when I come again. Which now of these three. and took care of him. and donation centers. There are even good Samaritan laws that protect people from legal ramifications if they stop to provide assistance to someone. he had compassion on him. as well as clothing. “Good Samaritan” “Good Samaritan” has become a common title in today’s culture. food. was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? (Luke 10:33–36) Overheard Quotes | 169 . There was enmity between the Samaritans and many of the people of Israel. and said unto him. and bound up his wounds. especially the Jewish expert of the law. would never have used a Samaritan as the moral center of his story. and brought him to an inn. Note that the lawyer couldn’t even answer Jesus’ question directly and say the name Samaritan. therefore. pouring in oil and wine. This phrase had a vastly different connotation at the time of Jesus. he took out two pence. For most people today. and went to him. and set him on his own beast. thinkest thou. a Good Samaritan helps someone in need. Some despised the Samaritans’ mixed heritage and involvement with enemies. going the extra mile in a way that exceeds normal charity. But Jesus wanted to prove a spiritual point that went beyond ancient disputes. And on the morrow when he departed. Jesus’ story was both shocking and heart revealing to His listeners. A prominent Jewish teacher. Take care of him.  But a certain Samaritan. Many hospitals have taken the name. as he journeyed. and gave them to the host.

(Isaiah 2:4) 170 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Isaiah details the judgments against Israel and many surrounding nations as a result of their persistent sin against God. The people will “hammer their swords into plowshares”.  And he shall judge among the nations. that is. is the promise that one day God will rule in Jerusalem and all the nations will turn to Him for guidance. Peace advocates cite this verse in their efforts to disarm a world prone to violence and aggression. their weapons of violence will be converted and changed into instruments for farming.“Hammer swords into plowshares” Just outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City is a statue sculpted by Yevgeny Vuchetich entitled Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares. and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation. for example. God promises that they wil be punished. Isaiah also references God’s mercy and grace. Israel and Judah come under particular judgment because of their unique place as God’s chosen people and the caretakers of His law. In contrast to all the fighting that Israel has done. This promise of peace is an oasis of restoration after the judgments the prophet Isaiah describes. neither shall they learn war any more. As a result. and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares. the world will have no war or soldiers. Here in Isaiah 2.

But where does this idea come from? The phrase is found in the description of Jesus’ last moments on the cross. We use it to talk about people. into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus. or just about anything that ceases to operate. this life-giving breath of God left Him. computers.” The clear sense of the word is simple—He died. But the more literary description was used throughout the earliest translations into other languages and probably made its first appearance via William Tyndale’s sixteenth-century transla- tion of the New Testament or possibly even Wycliffe’s translation in 1395. The Greek word used here means “the spirit comes out. Father. (Luke 23:46) Overheard Quotes | 171 . cars. Regardless. he said. “He gave up the ghost” To give up the ghost usually means to die or break down completely. signaling His death. the euphemism was popularized by Shakespeare in his plays Julius Caesar and Henry VI. he gave up the ghost.  When Jesus had cried with a loud voice. The idea of the spirit coming out of someone at death is not a reference to ghosts in the contemporary sense of the word. When Jesus died. but rather it serves as a reminder that all of life was breathed into us by God (see Genesis 2:7).

“He that is without sin among you. This particular idiom has retained most of its original sense throughout the ages. The setting for this scene is another attempt by the Phari- sees to trick Jesus into violating the law of Moses. as they realized they could not pass the test. he lifted up himself. avoiding the one person who could truly offer them forgiveness. In this case. although scant evidence exists that this ever actually took place.  So when [the scribes and Pharises] continued asking [Jesus]. let him cast the first stone” “To cast the first stone” is a phrase used to hold people accountable to hypocrisy in their lives. Mosaic law. Moreover. Jesus knew their hearts. Instead. Jesus did not debate with them. (John 8:7) 172 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . let him first cast a stone at her. he turned the tables completely and simply suggested that whoever thought that he was without sin should throw the first stone. they brought a woman guilty of the sin of adultery and asked whether she should be stoned. While the woman’s accus- ers considered them- selves “perfect” in upholding the law. He that is without sin among you. stated clearly that she should be stoned. and said unto them. they simply wandered away. even if the context in which Jesus spoke these words has largely been forgotten. as they well knew.

(Daniel 5:5–6) Overheard Quotes | 173 . and his knees smote one against another. using it frequently in reference to politics and international affairs. a hand appeared and a finger began to write on the wall in plain sight. So Daniel. was summoned. the prophecy came true that very night! The king and his guests were killed by Darius of the Medes and Persians. An interpretation was needed. It came about during an incident in the book of Daniel. and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. and his thoughts troubled him. a certain outcome or conclusion has already been decided. “Handwriting on the wall” “The writing’s on the wall” usually conveys a sense of inevitability. The interpretation was clear: Belshazzar’s pride was about to lead to his destruction. King Belshazzar had thrown a big party. who was about eighty-one years old at the time. Then the king’s countenance was changed. Suddenly. Jour- nalists seem to love this phrase. Daniel survived and became one of Darius’s top three administrators. (See also “Weighed in the balance and found wanting. The general idea is that whatever the current circumstances. he decided to drink wine from sacred objects taken from the temple at the fall of Jerusalem. While boasting of his power.”)  In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand. Indeed. so that the joints of his loins were loosed.

“How are the mighty fallen” Today this phrase is used in many contexts: from a surprise loss by a top- ranked sports team to the fall from grace of a popular politician. David praised their strength. David actually repeats this line. His son Jonathan was killed. Anytime someone or something fails to live up to that title. severely wounded. Both father and son had been accomplished warriors. his response was utter grief.” three times in his lament. and Saul’s elevated status as God’s anointed one. David composed a song to honor Saul and Jonathan and ordered that it be taught to the men of Judah. The book of 1 Samuel ended with King Saul making the rash decision to go into battle against the Philistines and suffering a massive defeat. “how are the mighty fallen. took his own life. and Saul. When the messengers brought the news to David. his friendship with Jonathan.  The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! (2 Samuel 1:19) 174 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . we might hear this phrase.

Paul commended the believers for their faithful work in the name of Jesus and not giving up hope. we sac- rificially serve oth- ers at some cost to ourselves simply because we love them. remembering without ceasing your work of faith. in the sight of God and our Father. making mention of you in our prayers. Paul was writing to a new church that had a lot of questions about their newfound faith. and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. At other times. he praised them for a number of things. including their labor of love. (1 Thessalonians 1:2–4) Overheard Quotes | 175 . not because we hope to gain anything from it other than personal satisfaction. we pursue a hobby or goal at great personal cost.” On the one hand. This labor was not motivated by personal satisfac- tion nor by grudging obligation but instead by hearts filled with love and gratitude toward God for all that He had done for them through Jesus Christ. “Labor of love” Have you ever helped someone out even though you really didn’t want to? Or have you ever worked above and beyond expectations just because you really enjoyed what you were doing? Both actions are “labors of love. knowing. It’s just a labor of love. When Paul thanked God for the people of Thessalonica. your election of God. brethren beloved. The church also endured persecution.  We give thanks to God always for you all. and labour of love.

 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament. not of the letter. the law given to point people to God. It can even be applied to situations where rules and regulations follow such a strict interpretation that they end up causing more harm than good. This old covenant. It simply highlighted sin.” it is almost always in contrast to following the “spirit of the law. it could only lead to death. but the spirit giveth life. Strict obedience to the law was nice but never saved anyone. however. It implies a stern. was never able to justify anyone. The apostle Paul’s concern about “the letter of the law” was not quite the same as ours. fixed position with no room for grace. “Letter of the law” When we speak of following the “letter of the law. (2 Corinthians 3:6) 176 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . but of the spirit: for the letter killeth.” To follow the letter of the law means to rigidly adhere to a certain set of rules or proce- dures without any thought given to the intent behind them. He drew a distinction between the “old covenant” and the “new covenant. In fact. this written code.” The old covenant referred to the law of Moses.

In preaching on the kingdom of God.  Then said the king to the servants. and orga- nizations alike all use this concept to empha- size the high standards of excellence they hold on to. Jesus used the parable of the wedding banquet to show the reality of this issue. there were some who didn’t belong. but few are chosen” Fraternities often pro- mote their exclusivity using this phrase. Yet even among this group. schools. despite his numerous attempts. “Many are called. and cast him into outer darkness. Ultimately the king brought people in from the street. Bind him hand and foot. The focus is on human efforts. however. and take him away. Jesus’ priorities were different. is that in the end only a few will turn out to be true disciples. Although huge crowds followed him looking for heal- ing or advice. most of them never took the next step of actu- ally confessing Jesus as their Lord and Savior. companies. The reality. For many are called. Foot- ball teams. those whom we would expect to come did not. there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. A king threw a banquet. those who would not normally be invited. but few are chosen. “Many are called and few are chosen” refers to the fact that God extends His call to repent and believe to all people everywhere. (Matthew 22:13–14) Overheard Quotes | 177 . and yet.

(Deuteronomy 8:2–3. provide for them. to know what was in thine heart. to humble thee. Both uses of the phrase miss the point of its meaning in the Bible. clothes. Moses reminded the people that they survived their wilderness wanderings because God didn’t destroy them.” Over a thousand years later. And he humbled thee. which thou knewest not. People need more than just food. and plenty of entertainment to keep them from becoming bored. a place to live. or no. Others use the phrase to justify having a certain lifestyle. and fed thee with manna. In the Old Testament. and guide them. whether thou wouldest keep his commandments. and suffered thee to hunger.” it usually means people need more than food to live. a good-paying job. but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. see also Matthew 4:4) 178 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .“Man shall not live by bread alone” When people use the phrase “Man shall not live by bread alone. Satan used this phrase to tempt Jesus at the tail end of Jesus’ forty-day fast. God did this to teach them that man lives “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord. He chose to protect them.  And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness. We all have emotional and spiritual needs as well as physical needs. Jesus’ response to Satan was a proclamation of authority and a reminder that Satan had not lived by the word of God. even after they worshipped a golden calf (Exodus 32). that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only. neither did thy fathers know. they need transportation. and to prove thee.

Overheard Quotes | 179 .

(Acts 20:35) 180 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .“More blessed to give than to receive” This common phrase is used in a wide variety of places. In effect we are training ourselves to put God first in our lives. When we give. these exact words do not appear anywhere else in the Bible. It is more blessed to give than to receive. how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak. he offered the elders at the church in Ephesus some advice. from churches asking for funds to expand into a new building to charity drives for a new hospital or school. including this admonition to care for the needs of other people. But they capture the essence of much that Jesus taught. As the apostle Paul prepared to leave. Although he says he is quoting Jesus. we set aside our own self-oriented needs in order to focus on others. God gave us His Son and forgiveness. We begin to understand in part what His sacrifice of love was like when we give as well. and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus.  I have shewed you all things. how he said.

He should indeed have been his brother’s keeper. but he tried to absolve himself of the responsibility at the same time. the first recorded sin after Adam and Eve left the garden of Eden is the fracturing of the family unit. Where is Abel thy brother? And he said. yet he gave him a chance to confess by asking him where Abel was. now Satan started attacking the primary relationships in life. “My brother’s keeper” The brief but tragic story of Cain and Abel has fascinated people for years and provided the scenario for many movie and novel plots. and slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain. Sometimes people use this phrase today as a way of distancing themselves from a sibling or absolving themselves of responsibility for a sibling’s ac- tions. that Cain rose up against Abel his brother. when they were in the field. Sadly. “We have no relationship. God obviously knew what Cain had done. Not only did Cain lie directly to God’s face. The oldest son was supposed to protect and provide for the family. separating family members from each other.”  And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass. I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? (Genesis 4:8–9) Overheard Quotes | 181 . Having separated them from God. Using this phrase communicates clearly.

These people will be punished. In the first passage.  But the wicked are like the troubled sea. Isaiah 48. see also Isaiah 48:22) 182 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Those who continually oppose God will literally find no rest. Yet God promised to bring them back to the Promised Land to live in peace. (Isaiah 57:20–21. when it cannot rest. There is no peace.“No peace for the wicked” This phrase is most often quoted as “There’s no rest for the wicked” and usually implies an endless amount of hard work to be done. The wicked. Yet God offers comfort and peace for those who turn to God in repentance and seek forgiveness. whose waters cast up mire and dirt. We tend to use this in a lighthearted way and rarely impute it to someone evil. saith my God. and no hope. This is why the people had to be punished and sent into exile. Isaiah has a much more serious concept in mind in his two usages of the phrase. The first half of this chapter is a scathing rebuke of all who would live in opposition to God. This theme appears again in Isaiah 57. we read about God’s work to purify His people. however. would never enjoy that peace. to the wicked. God declares. no peace.

amazing. extolling his virtues and singing of his majesty and power. (Psalm 8:1–2) Overheard Quotes | 183 . Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies. “Out of the mouth of babes. We marvel at the funny. The psalm is a song of praise to God.” This is not the idea David had in mind when he wrote Psalm 8.  O Lord. The response is often.” On the other hand are “babes and sucklings” (infants): the giggles of a baby or the first words of a small child. our Lord. God is saying that He will completely con- found His enemies. He has total power over all things. how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. or even surprisingly insightful things that young children say. On the one hand are enemies of God: “the enemy and the avenger. “Out of the mouths of babes” Although sometimes verses from the Bible can degenerate over time into sentimental clichés. But David purposefully juxtaposes two opposing images in the first couple of verses. that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. In a sense. in this case there is still some truth embedded in our current usage of this phrase.

display civic pride. and an haughty spirit before a fall. involves having an excessively high level of self-importance. From a biblical perspective. since it involves the elevation of the self over another person.  Pride goeth before destruction. the result will always be catastrophic. Solomon warns that when people place themselves above others in perceived self-righteousness or importance.” comes from linking the synonyms together and simplifying the sentence. (Proverbs 16:18) 184 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .” The phrase we use today. Positively. “Pride” and “a haughty spirit” are synonyms in this sentence. Only through the humble and obedient sacrifice of Jesus Christ can we be restored in relationship with God. Pride can be both a negative and a positive emotion.“Pride goes before a fall” The proverb “Pride goes before a fall” uses a literary technique called “syn- onymous parallelism. or have pride in the achievements of our favorite team. we can be proud of our children. Pride ultimately separates us from God and leads to death. “Pride goes before a fall. The kind of pride God condemns. as are “destruction” and “a fall. however.” We see here two phrases that say the same thing but with different words. pride is often considered to be the root of almost all other sins.

and God speaks through Isaiah to exhort Hezekiah to get his affairs in order before dying. (2 Kings 20:1. promising to give Hezekiah another fifteen years of life. he cleansed the temple in Jerusalem and reintroduced worship of God alone to the people. This is a straightforward command to organize all the little details that need to be in place before dying. for thou shalt die. Hezekiah had just been struck with a terrible illness.  In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. Furthermore. Hezekiah pours out his heart to God. seeking God’s help for healing. In the verses that follow. and not live. Hezekiah was an obedient follower of God and went on a campaign to rid the country of all idols and places of idol worship. Thus saith the Lord. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him. and said unto him. God hears and responds to this heartfelt prayer. In the passage quoted below. see also Isaiah 38:1) Overheard Quotes | 185 . Isaiah may have been prompting something deeper as well. This is the sense that remains today. “Put your house in order” King Hezekiah was for the most part a good king. Set thine house in order. Although his father Ahaz led the people of Judah into idolatry.

they needed to guard against being overly influenced by the world. Jesus undoubtedly drew on all these ideas in creating His metaphor.“Salt of the earth” At the time of Jesus. salt was often used as a kind of fertilizer. to act as a seasoning force that battled corruption and spiritual decay. At the same time.  Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour. salt was a common preservative. lest in the process they lose their own saltiness. Second. (Matthew 5:13) 186 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Salt prevented the bacteria from growing and spreading. and to be trodden under foot of men. Third. How- ever. for the most part. this was only possible because. this salt tended to lose its flavor if it was stored improperly. it was not highly refined but contained all sorts of other minerals. but to be cast out. First. salt enhanced the flavor of food. Large amounts of pure salt would have destroyed the land. Again. salt came from salt marshes and contained a lot of impurities. it kept food from going bad. but using small amounts mixed with other minerals was helpful. thus. The faith of His disciples was intended to have an impact on the world. wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing. three common uses stand out. Although it was used for pretty much anything and everything.

including the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13–21) and the feeding of the four thousand (Matthew 15:29–39). It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. He answered and said unto them. When it is evening. Newspapers talk about rising (or falling) divorce rates being a sign of the times. but can ye not discern the signs of the times? (Matthew 16:1–3) Overheard Quotes | 187 . In effect they were asking for Him to perform a trick for them.  The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came. Ostensibly this would provide enough hard evidence that they could then believe His message. ye say. And in the morning. The installa- tion of metal detectors in high schools might be considered another sign of troubled times. and advertisements. A “sign of the times” is something that represents the time in which we live and points to something bigger. and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven. What further evidence could they need? Jesus attacked the prideful knowledge of the Jewish leaders by His declaration that they could forecast the weather but didn’t know how to interpret the signs of the times. informational labels on just about everything we eat. He had already performed countless miracles. “Signs of the times” We live in a world of signs—traffic signs. As Jesus debated with the reli- gious leaders and authorities. We are also profoundly influenced by less tangible signs. It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. O ye hypocrites. Jesus didn’t fall for their ploy. ye can discern the face of the sky. they sought to test Him by ask- ing for a sign. But the real reason was based in their disbelief.

188 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .

and broad is the way. whatever the cost. Drifting along on the waves of sinful self- centeredness may seem pleasant for a while. (Matthew 7:13–14) Overheard Quotes | 189 . Following Jesus requires complete commitment to Him. “I’m on the straight and narrow” implies living a morally upright life. that leadeth to destruction. however. “Straight and narrow” Perhaps all criminals facing parole appeal to this phrase to proclaim their changed ways and desire to be released. It’s an appeal to forgiveness and restoration based on the reformed behaviors of an individual. and few there be that find it.  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate. where addictions have been dealt with and criminal pasts left behind. ultimately it will lead to death. He searched for disciples who would throw in their lot with Him. which leadeth unto life. Here Jesus was telling the assembled masses that the way to destruc- tion is wide and easy. and narrow is the way. and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate. Jesus’ intention in the Sermon on the Mount was never to simply pass on good teaching and then leave it at that. Jesus then explained that the way to eternal life is narrow and may at times seem restrictive or difficult. Rather.

The reason that Solomon encourages his readers to have a soft tongue and a gentle answer is twofold. We are to speak light and life into the lives of others. reflecting His love and majesty to all people.“A soft answer turns away wrath” On the one hand. whereas an angry response simply ups the ante. the Lord sees and knows all things. Then.  A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. not darkness and death. We can hide nothing from God and are to live at all times in humble obedience to Him. what we find here in Proverbs is simply common sense. as now. (Proverbs 15:1) 190 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Second. people of God are to live as those who bear the image of God. but what makes Proverbs unique is the God-centered focus that Solomon applies to this wisdom. it is almost always the case that a gentle response will deflect anger. This concept may have been introduced to the world by Solomon. First.

but the tone of this entire section in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth is sarcastic. His intention was to play off their existing notions of foolishness and wisdom and thereby help them see where they had been led into false doctrine. the phrase has assumed an entirely different meaning. Most frequently it appears in obituar- ies.  For ye suffer fools gladly. (2 Corinthians 11:19) Overheard Quotes | 191 . Appar- ently they let themselves be led into thinking that they were holier and more righteous than they really were. Paul rebuked the believers for their failure to stand firm in the Gospel that he preached to them. Since Paul wrote this letter. seeing ye yourselves are wise. It implies that someone is prone to being curt with anyone they perceive to be inferior or foolish. Paul assumed the role of a “fool” in order to expose their supposed “wisdom” and authority. where it has become a way to talk of the deceased in an honest but diplomatic manner. “Suffer fools gladly” We can’t tell from a single verse. He implied that he had to talk like a fool since the Corinthians would gladly accept his advice if he did so.

Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake. and hast eaten of the tree. The woman. displaying a strong work ethic. in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. Each curse demonstrates the corrupting force of sin. till thou return unto the ground. and the man. saying. and God cursed the snake. thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. Adam and Eve chose to sin against God and as a result were forced to leave the garden of Eden (see Genesis 3). (Genesis 3:17–19) 192 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . of which I commanded thee. The free and generous provision of food they had enjoyed in the garden of Eden had now been replaced by a life of difficulty. the woman. the phrase has a negative context. Death entered the world. The man would still have to work. created to give birth and live in harmony with the man. for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art. and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. We generally consider this to be a positive trait. But in Genesis. would now experience pain in childbirth and struggle in her relationship with her husband. in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.  And unto Adam he said. It’s the kind of pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps attitude that is that is such an integral part of the American ethos.“Sweat of your brow” Those who earn a living by the “sweat of their brow” work hard for every- thing they have. Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife. but his work—“the sweat of [his] face”—would be significantly harder. and unto dust shalt thou return.

We should note. “The love of money is the root of all evil” This is a truism we see in action everywhere. that the main rea- son Paul was so concerned about the love of money was not so much because of the consequences in the here and now but because of the eternal conse- quences. and into many foolish and hurtful lusts. So Paul’s warnings to Timothy are worth heeding. Ultimately this is the single most important reason to avoid getting ensnared by a love for money. (1 Timothy 6:9–10) Overheard Quotes | 193 . causing pastors to stumble and regular church members to fall into all kinds of sin. which drown men in destruction and perdition. regardless of the personal costs. however.  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare. Professional athletes end up squandering their massive wealth by making foolish decisions. and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Far more significant than broken marriages or failed business ventures is a severed relationship with God. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after. The love of mon- ey has also led many Chris- tians astray. Business executives let their enormous salaries go to their heads and succumb to the relentless pressure to just make more and more money. they have erred from the faith.

then they will know the truth. they believed about Him is unclear. The idea is that knowing and telling the truth release people from bondage. As with so many phrases we have pulled from the Bible. Moreover. (John 8:31–32) 194 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . then are ye my disciples indeed. they will then be set free. and the truth shall make you free. and ye shall know the truth. but it was enough that it prompted further clarification from Jesus as to what was required and expected of a true disciple. So He tells them that if they hold on to his teaching. In this passage. we find Jesus conversing with “those Jews which believed on him. it appears on the wall at the entrance to the CIA. having built their lives around this truth. So what is the truth? It is both Jesus’ teaching and Jesus Himself.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him. specifically.” The depth of what. Thus. Usually the phrase is quoted in order to encourage people to be truthful. In fact. the original context points us toward quite a different interpretation. however. If ye continue in my word. “the truth” in this case has nothing to do with the disciple telling the truth but with the content of the truth the disciple holds on to.“The truth shall set you free” This popular phrase is used in everything from movies to television shows.

See. it is that which shall be. but they remain largely the same over time. death. most of life has nothing inherently purpose- ful to it. As he notes here. human history is not cycli- cal but linear. Relational dynamics may change slightly from culture to culture. this is new? it hath been already of old time. (Ecclesiastes 1:9–10) Overheard Quotes | 195 . “There’s nothing new under the sun” Although new inventions and new advancements in science and technol- ogy appear continually. Human emotions are the same. none of this has any meaning without God. moving toward a final climactic moment. just more of the same as the centuries roll on by. The point of the author of Ecclesiastes is that we should have a realistic outlook on life. Is there any thing whereof it may be said. nothing is really “new” when it comes to the big picture issues of meaning and purpose. maintaining. and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. When we separate the creation from the Creator. From a Christian perspective. nothing new comes along. and everything in between can seem random and arbitrary. Life is imbued with mean- ing and purpose when viewed through this lens. In and of itself. Life.  The thing that hath been. and one day perfecting this world. But the marvelous news of the Bible is the revelation of God’s work in creating. life is purposeless. establishing. According to the Bible. which was before us.

in persecutions. . 10) 196 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . there was given to me a thorn in the flesh. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities.“Thorn in the flesh” A thorn in the flesh usually refers to any kind of nagging problem or difficult issue that plagues a person or institution.  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations. in reproaches. and Paul wrote multiple letters to them challenging. . . then am I strong. However. (2 Corinthians 12:7. lest I should be exalted above measure. Usually it is something seemingly small yet significant enough to have an impact completely out of proportion to its size. He concludes this letter with a note that he himself received a “thorn in the flesh. The original context here is a letter from the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. something painful that has embedded itself in our lives and won’t go away until it is dealt with. but it was used by God to help Paul remain humble and dependent on God. in necessities. in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak. rebuking. and teach- ing them on various matters. the messenger of Satan to buffet me. A thorn in the flesh is exactly what it sounds like. The thorn may have been from Satan. The church struggled with a number of significant problems.” So far the meaning is basically the same. he then expands on the situation.

Once again all we can see is the cyclical. This is where we can find meaning and purpose as we walk through the craziness of life. meaningless movement to life. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Overheard Quotes | 197 . “To everything there is a season” This passage of Scripture was perhaps made most famous by two songs that came out in the 1960s. In his search for meaning and significance beyond the everyday. the civil rights move- ment gained steam. Without God’s presence with us. the result is not hope- ful but hopeless. The author of Ecclesiastes described the world that he could see around him. never- ending. war and peace. and the Cold War intensi- fied after the Cuban Missile Crisis. But God is at work in and through all things—through birth and death. During a time of turmoil and cultural upheaval. The final line was particularly relevant when the song first came out. he observed that everything had its appointed season. as the Vietnam War continued to rage. and a time to every purpose under the heaven. singer-songwriter Pete Seeger adapted this pas- sage in Ecclesiastes into a song that was later covered by a popular music group called the Byrds.  To every thing there is a season. weeping and laughing.

Death will be destroyed forever. It will simply happen. and we shall be changed. Christians today should live and act as workers in the kingdom. (1 Corinthians 15:52–53) 198 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . It will not be a long. Paul’s primary concern as he finished this letter to the Corinthians was to see lives changed. However. and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. “in the twinkling of an eye. at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound. and this mortal must put on immortality.  In a moment. then He was not really God and His sacrifice was not sufficient. “This will happen so quickly that you won’t be able to bat an eyelid before it happens” is not quite as lyrical as saying. So what? Therefore. Paul uses the image here to emphasize the sudden speed with which Christ will one day return and transform the mortal into the immortal. and it was no doubt a common phrase at the time. in the twinkling of an eye. That’s why the final chapter of 1 Corinthians focuses on the doctrine of the resurrection. For this corruptible must put on incorruption.“Twinkling of an eye” To say. and sin with it through the victory won by Jesus Christ. If Christ was not raised from the dead. drawn-out event that slowly spreads around the world.” The original Greek means more or less the same thing.

detail- ing coming earthquakes. (Matthew 24:6–7. and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines. the entire section from the beginning of Matthew 24 to the end of Matthew 25 is often referred to as the “Olivet Discourse. and famines is meant to set the stage for everything that fol- lows. The introductory portion of this section. and pestilences.” since it is a longer series of teaching given by Jesus while sitting on the Mount of Olives. For nation shall rise against nation. see also Mark 13:7) Overheard Quotes | 199 . Indeed. and earthquakes. wars. “Wars and rumors of wars” The context here is a conversation between Jesus and His dis- ciples. that the world is continuing to move in the direction of Jesus’ return. Wars.  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass. These things function as signs. but the end is not yet. or pointers. earthquakes. and other disasters are further evidence that we live in a fallen world creaking its way toward final judgment and ultimately restoration. Jesus knew He was about to leave. and He wanted to ensure that His disciples were prepared for difficult times after He left. in divers places.

and art found wanting. Thou art weighed in the balances. It meant “numbered. (Daniel 5:26–28) 200 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . weighed.“Weighed in the balances and found wanting” The absolute sovereignty of God over and above all earthly powers is the context for the strange prophecy and interpretation in Daniel 5. that very night Darius the Mede invaded Babylon. Belshazzar’s pride was about to lead to a catastrophic fall from power.” In other words. and finished it. The king of Babylon at the time was a man named Belshazzar. we would do well to remem- ber that ultimately the standard we must all measure up to is God. who was powerful but full of pride. and killed Belshazzar. captured the king- dom. After a mysterious hand appeared and began writing a message on a wall in Aramaic (see “Handwriting on the wall”).  This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene. Peres. divided. Tekel. Although this phrase is often used to talk about human efforts falling short of some kind of standard or goal. Indeed. Thy kingdom is divided. and given to the Medes and Persians. the prophet Daniel provided the interpretation of the message. God hath numbered thy kingdom.

who had a rare face-to-face encounter with the God of the universe and yet missed his opportunity completely. After three years of prophetic teaching and healing ministry. “the way. and saith unto them. I find in him no fault at all. however. in the end it turned out that His death was actually the culmination of His entire ministry. the procurator of Judea. was Himself rejected and dismissed as an inconvenience and irritation by Pilate. blogs.  Pilate saith unto him. cut the conversa- tion short with his declaration of disgust for truth. he went out again unto the Jews. was not about philosophy at all. Jesus was arrested and put on trial before Pilate. the One who came to bring truth into a deceitful world. and conferences have revolved around this question with philosophers and theologians providing opinions on the topic. but about Jesus’ identity. Although it appeared to be a lost opportunity for Jesus to be set free. What is truth? And when he had said this. The lost opportunity for freedom here was for Pilate. “What is truth?” “What is truth?” Countless books. articles. ultimately paving the way for His crucifixion. and the life” (John 14:6). A curious Pilate. the truth. (John 18:37–38) Overheard Quotes | 201 . Jesus. The conversation Jesus had with Pilate.

the people perish: but he that keepeth the law.  Where there is no vision.“Where there is no vision. we can’t lay that burden upon this particular verse. the one who keeps the law of God will be happy. The key here is the Hebrew word that we translate as “vi- sion. While there may be some prac- tical business wisdom in this way of thinking. received life. In contrast. sent to bring life to those lost in sin.” What it actually refers to is a prophetic vision or word from God. organization. the people perish” Many people today use this brief proverb in regard to leadership. People perish when there is no prophetic word coming from God. (Proverbs 29:18) 202 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Jesus was the ultimate prophetic Word of God. happy is he. Leaders are to carefully craft a compelling vision or direction for the people they are leading. the people. Oth- erwise. Those who received Him. the proverb continues. or corporation will fail.

It’s in There Somewhere.” This saying misquotes 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is the root of all evil. You can thank Sir Thomas Browne. and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together.” Benjamin Franklin actually wrote this in Poor Richard’s Almanack.” This comes from A Hand-book of Proverbs by John Ray (1670). He included it in his book Religio Medici in 1642. „„ C  harity begins at home. „„ “  Money is the root of all evil.” „„ “  Spare the rod. and a little child shall lead them.” This might be a reference to Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb.” „„ “  The lion shall lie down with the lamb. and the leopard shall lie down with the kid.” „„ “  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. „„ “  Cleanliness is next to godliness. Right? There are many quotes that many people assume are in the Bible but aren’t really there. But you won’t find it in the Bible.” This is probably a senti- ment that comes from Proverbs 13:24 (niv): “Whoever spares the rod hates their children. for this one. but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Another Ben Franklin saying. Overheard Quotes | 203 . „„ “  God helps those who help themselves.” Credit for this one should go to English preacher John Wesley. „„ “  All that glitters (or glisters) is not gold. „„ “Honesty is the best policy.” Shakespeare used this phrase in a rhetorical question in The Merchant of Venice. spoil the child. an English physician.

204 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .

Stories Jesus Told
Which of the following
grabs your attention faster?  (Be honest.)

“Listen to my sermon about . . .”
“There was a man with two sons . . .”
“There was a man with two sons” is a phrase akin to the well-
known “Once upon a time.” It immediately hooks us with its
inherent promise of a good story to follow.
Knowing human nature, Jesus used stories to hook His listeners. His
stories were so engaging, even a child could enjoy and understand
them. Yet there were hidden truths about the kingdom of God in
each story. As Jesus often said, “Anyone with ears to hear should
listen and understand” (Mark 4:9 nlt throughout this section).
Jesus told three types of parables: teaching parables, Gospel
parables, and parables of judgment and the future. Although Jesus
expounded on truths in all of His parables, teaching parables had a
specific subject: the kingdom of God, obedience, prayer, humility,
or wealth. The Gospel parables centered on love and forgiveness.

Teaching Parables
about the Kingdom of God

J esus, the master teacher, taught on a variety of
subjects: about the kingdom of God, serving
and obeying God, prayer, being a good neighbor,
humility, and wealth.

The Soils
Matthew 13:3–8; Mark 4:3–8; Luke 8:5–8

Most parents know when their children are listening and when they aren’t.
Their obedient actions show their understanding. Jesus’ parable talks to
this issue of hearing but not understanding.
Unlike many other parables, Jesus explained the meaning of this one to
His confused and inquisitive disciples. In Mark 4:10–20, we read that Jesus
said the “seed” represents “God’s word,” which most likely means the
word of God or the words spoken by God (and Jesus) in regard to the
kingdom of God. The four soils represent four different responses to Jesus
and His word. Some people, like kids tuning out their parents, just don’t
hear the word at all. Others are excited at first, but their initial enthusiasm
quickly wanes. Others hear the word and seem to grab ahold of it, but
“all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life,
the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things” (Mark 4:19). Finally,
the fruitful soil represents people who hear the word and are changed
by it. Their obedient actions show their understanding.

 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in
his field."
(Matthew 13:24)

Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 207

The Weeds
Matthew 13:24–30

Ever been fooled by what you
thought was a flower but learned
that it was a weed? Jesus told a
story of how such a thing might hap-
pen. A farmer who sows wheat seeds in
his field is dismayed to find that an enemy
has sown weeds in his field. The weeds
might have been darnel, a weed that
looks like wheat. Instead of allowing his servants
to pull the weeds, the farmer decides to wait until
the harvest to separate the wheat from the weeds.
Clearly this is more than just good farming advice.
Jesus was teaching His disciples about the mixed
results His message will produce in people’s lives. Some will hear
His word and, as a result of believing it, will mature and bear
fruit. They are the “good seeds.” Others will do the opposite.
Like weeds, they have the appearance of “good” plants. Rather
than investing time and energy trying to root out people who simply
pretend to follow Jesus, true followers should focus on serving Christ
and bearing fruit, trusting that Jesus will ultimately judge everyone fairly
when He returns.

 Here is another story Jesus told: “The
Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer
who planted good seed in his
field. But that night as the
workers slept, his enemy came
and planted weeds among
the wheat, then slipped
away. When the crop began
to grow and produce grain,
the weeds also grew.”
(Matthew 13:24-26)

208 | B i b l e Fi n d I t

The Mustard Seed
Matthew 13:31–32; Mark 4:30–32; Luke
13:18–19

Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed might
seem like a fairy tale akin to “Jack and the
Beanstalk.” In this parable, Jesus used an-
other image that would have been common
to His listeners—the mustard seed. Ever see a
mustard seed? These seeds are so small that even
picking one up can be difficult. Yet a mustard seed
can grow into a plant at least ten feet tall. The point
is not so much that these are huge plants but that
astonishing growth can take place out of seemingly
tiny or insignificant beginnings.
Given Christianity’s humble start with the death of its leader
on a Roman cross, the mustard seed certainly seems to be a fit-
ting comparison to use. Jesus knew that His tiny band of disciples
would one day grow into a large body of people from all nations.
Thanks to the Holy Spirit, the church blossomed and grew (Acts 2).
Christianity isn’t the only religion in the world, but no one can doubt the
amazing influence it has had throughout the world and across the centuries.

 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of
Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the
smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of
garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come
and make nests in its branches.”
(Matthew 13:31–32)

Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 209

Although a baker only adds a small amount of yeast. rather than im- purity in other instances (see Matthew 16:11–12. as it reacts with the other ingredients. The dough is the life of a believer. it permeated every part of the dough.  Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Mark 8:15). The imagery would not have been lost on Jesus’ disciples as they lis- tened to Jesus’ parable. are made without yeast. Flatbreads like tortillas and mat- zo.The Yeast Matthew 13:33. bread dough will not rise. it manages to work throughout the entire batch of dough. Without this little bacterium. thus causing the bread to rise. Followers of Jesus can expect their lives to be forever altered by Jesus. Leaven is a symbol for growth here. however. over time they demonstrates significant change to a watching world.” (Matthew 13:33) 210 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour. Luke 13:20–21 Many kinds of bread are made with yeast (leaven). which is changed by the leaven—the kingdom of God and the truth of Christ.

you would probably do anything you had to do to keep this treasure. In Jesus’ story. The treasure is the kingdom of God. we can’t stretch the details too far.  “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. While some have claimed that the man in the story is being deceptive. Becoming a citizen of heaven means giving up one’s right to run one’s life and also one’s allegiance to the world. he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. what would you do? You’d empty your backpack to make room for the treasure! In fact. This is the same message as that of the parable Jesus told concerning the pearl of great price.” (Matthew 13:44) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 211 . a man happens across a treasure in a field. the point is that he gave up everything in order to get the treasure he discovered. As with all parables. In his excitement. The Treasure Matthew 13:44 If you had a full backpack or purse and found a priceless treasure. Jesus calls His disciples to give up ev- erything they have in order to receive Jesus’ offer of eternal life. He immediately sells everything he has to buy the field so that he can claim the treasure.

How big was it? Jesus told a par- able of a pearl of great price.  “Again. setting aside their wealth.The Pearl of Great Price Matthew 13:45–46 Think about the last pearl you saw. removing any hint or allegation of sneakiness on the part of the buyer (as opposed to the man who hides the treasure after finding it). the entire transaction is done out in the open. The king- dom of God is the ultimate treasure—worth any price. and sometimes their lives in order to follow the Savior who paid the ultimate price for their sin. Moreover. The main difference here is that the merchant is actively looking for fine pearls as opposed to simply stum- bling across the treasure. The point is that if we were to find something of astonishing value. the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. family ties. he sold everything he owned and bought it!” (Matthew 13:45–46) 212 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . jobs. When he discovered a pearl of great value. Many Christians have experienced this cost firsthand. This parable has the same truth as that of the man who discovers buried treasure. we would most likely do whatever it took to purchase it. This is the emotional fuel that drives business at antique stores and auction houses.

Jesus used this parable to teach about the final judgment. that punishment will either be borne by Jesus on the cross or by individuals in hell—not a happy picture. and so on.  “Again. crabs. The point of the parable is not how the judgment will take place but rather that judgment is coming during which a separation of some sort will take place.” (Matthew 13:47) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 213 . He will one day come again to judge those who have turned their backs on Him and refused this offer of grace and forgiveness. The Fishing Net Matthew 13:47–50 Jesus used imagery familiar to His listeners: the daily life of the fisherman. One fishing method involved letting down a dragnet and scooping up whatever it happened to collect—fish. The Bible is clear that God is holy and just and that sin has to be punished. The fish would be separated from everything else. This is not a popular message. plants. But it’s an amazing reminder that although Jesus came to offer us the chance to be at peace with God. the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. At the end of the age.

Only God knows what is happening inside a person. The seed of the kingdom of God is sown wide and far and grows and takes root in sometimes hidden and unexpected places.The Growing Seed Mark 4:26–29 Although some of Jesus’ parables pertained to spe- cifics unique to the culture and society of Israel. Jesus used this seeming “miracle” of natural growth as a powerful image for the spiritual growth that happens inside people. Some people attend church faithfully for many years before suddenly something clicks and they finally “get it. “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. The entire process from germination to harvest took place without any in- tervention from the farmer.” (Mark 4:26) 214 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . why growth happens at all is still somewhat of a mystery. Although scientists can demonstrate exactly what hap- pens at each stage of growth even down to the cellular level. the seed continued to grow until it finally produced grain.” Others experience a radical and dramatic conversion the very first time they hear the Gospel. this particular one is almost universally understandable. It can often be hard to tell what is really going on inside someone’s heart. Jesus described a farmer who sowed seed and waited for the plants to sprout and grow. Whether he was present or not.  Jesus also said.

Teaching Parables about Service and Obedience M any people are tempted to lump the events in the Bible as mythology. he performed them through trusted individu- als who had faith in his power. Sometimes. Such a belief doesn’t take into account the real God who could perform all of these miraculous events.  . So. bread falling from the sky. angels taking on whole armies. because of the amazing occurrences listed: five thousand people fed with one lunch. step right up and feast your eyes on some of the most amazing events to ever occur in history.

Prospective employers size people up based on the work they need done and then decide on a salary.” (Matthew 20:1) 216 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . day laborers congregate at street corners and in town squares looking for work.” In the story. Yet here Jesus introduces a strange parable that reverses our assumptions and challenges our definition of “fairness. the agreed-upon price for a day’s work is one denarius. This is the math of the kingdom of heaven. a small sum that was probably normal for this kind of work. Equal pay for equal work seems like a reasonable assumption to make when taking on a new job. whatever their perceived value or worth in the eyes of other people. Wise workers refuse to compare themselves with others in the kingdom.The Workers in the Vineyard Matthew 20:1–16 Throughout the world. However.  “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. The main point seems to be that the landowner has the right to extend mercy and generosity to anyone he chooses. the landowner makes an interesting decision: to pay workers who began work at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day the same wage. although barely enough for a family to survive on.

the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. The amounts of money in this parable are therefore completely exaggerated for effect. The second is that his disciples will be held accountable for the way in which they have served Jesus in His absence. the word talent does not refer to something we are good at doing. a single talent would have represented anywhere from fifteen to twenty years’ worth of salary. However. The first is a further reminder that Jesus is going to return one day to judge the world. but to a weight of money. In fact. there are perhaps two main points here. The Loaned Money Matthew 25:14–30 A misperception of this parable is that Jesus is teaching stewardship of the gifts and abilities. or “talents. The implied assumption is that they will do something with the money. and that one day the master will return. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.” that God has given us.” (Matthew 25:14) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 217 . Set within the overall context of Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of God and His impending death and resurrection. The master gives each servant a sum of money “in proportion to their abili- ties” and then leaves on a journey.  “Again.

most civilians. simply because He has told them to do so. In the context of teaching about the danger of sin and the power of faith. ‘Prepare my meal.’ ” (Luke 17:7—8) 218 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . anyone in the armed forces is used to following orders and not seeking special treatment. and serve me while I eat. he says.The Servant’s Role Luke 17:7–10 Complete obedience is not a particularly highly valued trait among many people today. put on your apron. however. Then you can eat later. does his master say. so Jesus expects that His disciples will obey Him and everything He has said. ‘Come in and eat with me’? No. Certainly. Just as a slave would not expect to be treated differently or in any special way simply for doing what he is supposed to be doing. Yet here we have a parable that clearly teaches absolute obedience to Jesus.  “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep. Jesus rounds out this teaching with a reminder that obedience to the master was the expected mode of behavior. value personal freedom so highly that the idea of being beholden to someone else seems strange and discomforting.

 He said.” (Luke 19:12) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 219 . The triumphal king would return at a later stage. The Nobleman’s Servants Luke 19:11–27 Although this parable is very similar to the one told in Matthew 25:14–30. and in the meantime the servants would be responsible for their roles in seeing the kingdom grow and spread. followed by His return in judgment. Whereas the word talent has caused extensive confusion for those seeking to understand Matthew’s parable. where Luke says that Jesus “told [his disciples] a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away” (Luke 19:11). “A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. there are enough differences to warrant treating it separately. The first and most obvious difference is the amounts of money involved.” The point of the parable has more to do with the context in which it is set. which was still a significant amount of money but certainly less than “a talent. The focus of this passage then is directed toward this issue of Jesus’ impending crucifixion and ascension. Luke’s use of the word mina allows contemporary readers to focus simply on the financial element of the story. A key phrase appears at the very beginning. A mina was probably worth about three months’ wages.

Teaching Parables about P r ay e r  .

” (Luke 18:1–2) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 221 . They were completely reliant on help from others and often lived on the edge of poverty. this parable is not quite as straightforward as it seems. widows faced a difficult and dan- gerous existence. So what does this teach us about prayer? Jesus is trying to communicate to His followers the amazing love of God. if even an evil judge will finally relent under the continued requests of a poor widow. many would also have been able to relate to the plight of this poor woman. “There was a judge in a certain city. After all. The Unjust Judge Luke 18:1–8 As with so many parables.” he said. and Jesus’ listeners would have been appalled at his coldhearted behavior. how much more will a perfect and loving God eagerly and speedily grant justice to those He calls His children?  One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. the judge is deliberately contrasted with the plaintive figure of a widow to emphasize just how bad he is. “who neither feared God nor cared about people. Sadly. Throughout the ancient world. stuck in a system that ignored and abused the weak and helpless. The comparison is shocking. He says. In this story.

teaching them more about prayer.  Then. ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit. ‘Don’t bother me. Jesus goes on to explain in more detail about how to pray. The door is locked for the night.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake. and that God not only hears prayer but is pleased to answer it as well.” (Luke 11:5–8) 222 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . You say to him. he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.The Friend at Midnight Luke 11:5–8 Having just taught the disciples the most famous prayer in history. if you keep knocking long enough. Jesus then goes on to say that if even bad parents know how to give good gifts. and I have nothing for him to eat. 13) will God delight to bless His children when they need it? The resoundingly clear message throughout this section is that prayer is vitally important in the life of a follower of Jesus. the Lord’s Prayer. then “how much more” (v. then “how much more” will God delight to bless His children? The parable of the friend at midnight seems to be an illustration of the same principle. I can’t help you. wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight. If even a grumpy man woken in the middle of the night knows how to give bread to his neighbor when he needs it.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom. and my family and I are all in bed. Having explained the Lord’s Prayer to them and given this parable.

Teaching Parables about Neighbors  .

The challenges remain for us today. The lawyer who attempted to trick Jesus and justify his own selfish attitudes and actions was forced to realize that he had missed the point of both Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Jesus then challenged his listeners to consider who acted as the man’s “neighbor. beat him up.” Having told the story. but what would have been so shocking to Jesus’ listeners is that the Samaritans were despised by the Jews. he responded with this well-known parable. and left him half dead beside the road. and anyone traveling alone would face the possibility of being robbed. They stripped him of his clothes. and he was attacked by bandits. The Good Samaritan Luke 10:30–37 When a lawyer asked Jesus a question. Yet here in the story the Samaritan shows up both the priest and the Levite (and by extension. this is what happens for the man in this parable.” (Luke 10:30) 224 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Most of His audience would have had a hard time imagining themselves stop- ping to care for a Samaritan.  Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho. Sadly. most of Jesus’ audience) with his care and compassion for the weak and needy. His selfish heart neither loved God nor loved his neighbor. The road down to Jericho from Jerusalem was not a particularly safe one. and he is left “half dead.” The obvious answer is the Samaritan.

Teaching Parables about Humility  .

he told the parable of the wedding feast. Humility is the key. this particular story is just one shade away from explicit teaching: “When you are invited to a wedding feast. Following this tense episode. only two of His parables address this issue directly.The Wedding Feast Luke 14:7–11 Although we generally consider humility to be a primary teaching point for Jesus. The context for this story is a meal at the house of a “leader of the Pharisees” (v. much to the chagrin of the Pharisees. 1). he gave them this advice: “When you are invited to a wedding feast. Jesus healed a man suffering from dropsy.  When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited?” (Luke 14:7–8) 226 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . don’t sit in the seat of honor” (v. and self-exaltation will only ever result in humiliation. The first is the parable of the wedding feast. 8). Unlike some parables which have a more fully developed plot and characters. Jesus noticed the people jockeying for the best seat at the table for the meal. don’t sit in the seat of honor. At this moment. Fully aware that He was being watched intently. Jesus was very blunt here about how His audience should and should not be behaving in such a situation.

One was a Pharisee. but they had a reputation for stealing money from their own countrymen and charging exorbitant taxes in order to build up their own wealth. The point here is clear—God favors people who have a genuine understanding of their own sinfulness and don't try to cover themselves up before a holy and righteous God.” (Luke 18:9–10) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 227 . the tax collectors were the lowest of the low. So the parable plays off these images by exposing the pride hidden under the Pharisee’s shiny veneer of holiness and the humility nobody would have expected under the despised cloak of the tax collector.  Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. and the other was a despised tax collector. The Proud Pharisee and the Corrupt Tax Collector Luke 18:9–14 Sometimes the meanings of certain parables are placed right in the text for us. Not only were they willing employees of the Roman occupying forces. the Pharisees were the self-proclaimed guardians of orthodoxy and worked very hard to maintain all appearances of holiness and absolute obedience to the law. The parable itself draws on two very common images of the time. Second. First. For example: “Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else” (Luke 18:9).

Teaching Parables about W e a lt h  .

” (Luke 12:16) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 229 . The punch-line to the story is a direct word from God: the man is about to die. However. With this short story Jesus reminds His disciples that while money serves a purpose here and now. The rich man in the parable is no doubt an exaggeration. Jesus responds to the question with a challenge to be on guard against an unhealthy obsession with money.  Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. for “life is not measured by how much you own” (12:15). there is more to life than the accumulation of wealth. The sheer volume of all this wealth then leads him to pursue a hedonistic lifestyle. This general principle is then expanded upon with the short parable of the rich man’s abundant crops. The Rich Fool Luke 12:16–21 The context sets the tone for this parable. the occasion being a man ask- ing for help in getting his brother to share his inheritance with him. and presumably quite often the source of argument among relatives. inheritances of any size were extremely important. It is doubtful that many farmers would have been quite that fortunate in their endeav- ors nor quite that foolish in their management of their wealth.

The Great Feast
Luke 14:16–24

In the awkward moments following some difficult teaching by Jesus about
the importance of humility, someone pipes up and tries to change the
mood in the room by announcing, “What a blessing it will be to attend a
banquet in the Kingdom of God!” (v. 15). However, rather than changing
the topic, Jesus used the comment as a lead-in to a longer parable based
on the image of a great banquet.
Read in the context of Isaiah 25, this parable speaks of a time when God
will put an end to all suffering. The guests who were initially invited to
the banquet all bow out when the time comes, giving a series of weak
and rather strange excuses. When they fail to show, others are called to
attend in their place.
The parable would have been shocking and perhaps even confusing for most
listeners. Many people expected God’s blessings to come to them based
simply on their cultural background or nominal faith. However, Jesus was
clear that those coasting on religion may find themselves missing the boat.

 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent
out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to
tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ ”
(Luke 14:16–17)

230 | B i b l e Fi n d I t

The Shrewd Manager
Luke 16:1–9

Although the issues presented in this parable are complex, at its core this
parable tells the simple story of a man who has been dishonest in his deal-
ings and fired as a result. Fearing for his future, he cuts some deals with
some of his old master’s debtors in order to gain their favor.
Jesus is not applauding this manager’s dishonesty and deception. The
manager had clear responsibilities toward his master that he had failed to
live up to and was fired as a result. Stewardship is undoubtedly at the heart
of the parable. If a dishonest manager is nevertheless shrewd enough to
prepare for his uncertain future after being fired, how much more should
the disciples be careful to prepare for their own uncertain futures?
The parable ends with an admonition to be careful in how we manage
the material resources with which we have been entrusted. Will they lead
us toward God or away from Him? Will we use them to further God’s
kingdom or our own?

 Jesus told this story to his disciples: “There was a certain rich man
who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the
manager was wasting his employer’s money.”
(Luke 16:1)

Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 231

Gospel Parables
about God’s Love

Jesus used stories to shed light on His mission:
to show the depths of God’s amazing love. He
was sent to seek and to save the lost.

The Lost Sheep
Matthew 18:12–14; Luke 15:3–7

Sheep are just not that smart. Easily frightened, they are prone to wander
off. This makes them the perfect metaphor for humans in this parable.
One hundred sheep is a pretty big herd. It’s possible that the shepherd
owned them all, or perhaps two herds were mixed together. Either
way, one shepherd was ultimately responsible for protecting the sheep.
So when one wandered off, it was a big deal.
The main point here is the shepherd’s passionate pursuit of the lost sheep.
Jesus addressed this parable to a group of Pharisees and teachers of the
law who grumbled about His eating with tax collectors and sinners. The
religious leaders could not understand Jesus’ apparent fascination with
them. This parable helps explain that these are exactly the people Jesus
came to rescue. One of the most astonishing truths taught in the Bible is
that God loves everyone. Everyone is a lost sheep who needs to be found.
This was not a message the Pharisees wanted to hear.

 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away,
what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and
go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the
truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t
wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that
even one of these little ones should perish.”
(Matthew 18:12–14)

Gospel Parables | 233

The Lost Coin
Luke 15:8–10

The frantic search for lost items is a theme that has endured throughout
time. Pretty much everyone everywhere can empathize with the woman
who has lost one of her coins and tears her house apart looking for it.
The surprising element here is that the protagonist of this story is a woman.
We don’t know how the Pharisees reacted when Jesus told this parable,
but the choice was intentionally made to push their assumptions about
who God values and how He operates in the world. Without banks it is
not surprising that the woman would have kept the money in her house
and lost or misplaced a coin in a dark corner as a result.
The parable emphasizes God’s great love for us. Just as this woman goes
to great lengths to find the lost coin, so too will God go to any lengths to
rescue His lost children. Everyone was created in the image of God and is
worth saving, not just those who considered themselves to be holy and
perfect. Jesus came to die for the whole world, not just a select few.

 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t
she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully
until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and
neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost
coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels
when even one sinner repents.”
(Luke 15:8–10)

234 | B i b l e Fi n d I t

The Lost Son Luke 15:11–32 The parable of the lost son. most of Jesus’ listeners would have been shocked by it. At his lowest ebb. has etched itself into our cultural psyche. The parable doesn’t end here.” (Luke 15:11–12) Gospel Parables | 235 . The younger son told his father. An honorable man would never have demeaned himself by running to his son and showing such extravagant affection to him. Yet the father agrees to his request. Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. more than any other parable. The younger son’s sojourn in a foreign land brought more disgrace to the family name. This compassion was a marked contrast to the Pharisees’ disdain for the lost.  To illustrate the point further. ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. Furthermore. While the younger son’s request seems innocuous. Yet this father does—the perfect picture of the love of God. the father would have needed to sell off land and cattle—a further act of public humiliation. Asking for an early inheritance was akin to telling his father that he should hurry up and die. he wound up tending an animal Jews were for- bidden from eating and that represented everything impure. he decides to return home. It continues with the oldest son’s disrespect and the father’s choice to show compassion. Even worse.

Gospel Parables about T h a n k f u l n e ss  .

Because she had been forgiven much. But neither of them could repay him. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?” (Luke 7:41–42) Gospel Parables | 237 . Jesus told him this parable about debts forgiven and applied it to Simon and the woman. Simon’s sins may have been less. was shocked and assumed Jesus would quickly send her away. This woman’s sinful nature made her a debtor as much as the man in the parable.  Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. 37) entered the room and poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. she loved much. The Forgiven Debts Luke 7:41–43 The occasion when Jesus gave this parable was dinner in the home of a Pharisee. however. The woman. An “immoral” woman (v. but where was his love and gratitude? This pointed question would have left an uncomfortable silence in the room. Instead. Jesus broke it by openly forgiving the woman of her sins—a further shocking development. canceling their debts. Simon. Simon failed at one of the basic tenets of hospitality: washing a guest’s feet. so he kindly forgave them both. Jesus then added yet another twist. since only God had the power to do that. the Pharisee. washed Jesus' feet with her tears and anointed them.

He wanted them to remain faithful and watchful. Jesus used parables to prepare His fol- lowers for the difficulties ahead and for His second coming.  . Parables of Judgment about Ch r i st’s Retu r n K nowing that the end of His mission was drawing near.

However.” (Matthew 24:45) Parables of Judgment | 239 . sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. The negative example was given as a warning to remind them of the serious nature of their work. To encourage the disciples to focus their attention on how they should live until His return. taking care of the work and people entrusted to their care. Indeed.  “A faithful. This servant is wise and obedient. persecution and death were likely outcomes for all who chose to follow Him. taking care of the people under his charge. Luke 12:42–48 As Jesus approached the end of His active ministry. he wanted to warn His disciples about what was about to happen. Jesus told this parable. when the master returns. The implication for the disciples is that they were to focus their at- tention on being obedi- ent servants of Christ while He was gone. The Faithful and Sensible Servant Matthew 24:45–51. Many false prophets would rise up to lead people astray. this faithful servant is contrasted with the wicked servant who takes advantage of his master’s absence to abuse his power. he finds the servant hard at work and is pleased with him. When his master returns un- expectedly the wicked servant is punished for his disobedience.

This was undoubtedly a confusing time for the disciples. at midnight. Like the servants in the parable. But Jesus knew He had a limited amount of time to drive His point home. Above all they were to be watchful for Jesus’ imminent return. and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. before dawn. too. must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening. I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!” (Mark 13:34–37) 240 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . You. When he left home. Having explained to them that one day they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory” (13:26). Jesus implores them to live their lives accordingly while they wait for His triumphant return. or at daybreak. They were to work hard. he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do. even though Jesus would no longer be right there with them.  “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. the disciples were to be diligent in their Master’s work: making disciples and spreading the kingdom. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. They didn’t fully understand what was about to happen—that Jesus was going to be cruci- fied but three days later rise again before ascending into heaven.The Traveling Home Owner Mark 13:34–37 The last parable in the Gospel of Mark is a final encouragement to Jesus’ disciples to be prepared for His return.

Parables of Judgment | 241 .

The Ten Bridesmaids Matthew 25:1–13 This parable extends the theme of faithfulness during a time of waiting. While the parable is based on common cultural practices re- garding marriage. and Jesus’ audience would have known of the impor- tance of bringing extra oil. A procession from the groom’s house to the bride’s house and back again was common. and many bridesmaids were often involved. Jesus sets the stage by designating five bridesmaids foolish and five wise.   “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish. The wise bridesmaids come prepared with extra oil for their lamps. Lamps would have been required of all partici- pants in order to light the way. they enter the wedding feast. the point is clear: Jesus’ disciples are to be prepared for Jesus’ return. Although the story may seem a little harsh to us. The foolish bridesmaids’ search for oil renders them too late to enter. it probably does not match them exactly. Because of their preparedness.” (Matthew 25:1–2) 242 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . The wedding imagery was often connected with God’s love for His chosen people. and Jesus purposefully applies this language to Himself. and five were wise.

Parables of Judgment about God’s Values  .

In asking about forgiveness. Jesus mentions a ridiculously enormous amount of money. the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. The number is intentionally as large as possible. Yet God. The separation between man and God is so vast it cannot hope to be crossed. we should be ready to extend the same boundless forgiveness into the lives of other people. If we fail to forgive. Peter may have been thinking seven was a good number to guess. In the parable. Because we have experienced this forgiveness. we have been forgiven a debt that none of us could ever hope to pay. but Jesus countered by suggesting “seventy times seven” instead.The Unforgiving Debtor Matthew 18:23–35 Forgiveness is a key theme in the Bible. reached out to us through the death of His Son.  “Therefore. and this particular parable fleshes it out. one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. probably alluding back to the equally surprising number of times Jesus had suggested for offering forgiveness. we will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 18:23–24) 244 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Jesus. On the one hand. How could that be possible? Enter the parable of the unforgiving debtor. in His mercy. The parable was meant to help Peter understand the concept of forgiveness. In the process.

However. but did not—a disgraceful. Drawing on relational dynamics that are common in many families.  “Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied. while not initially interested. The Two Sons Matthew 21:28–32 Some stories like this parable require little to no background knowledge to understand. Shortly after Jesus entered Jerusalem and cleansed the temple. I will. did eventually obey his father. but some responded to John the Baptist and to Jesus. who should have gone to help his father. who. They may not have understood the prophets.’ and he said. They had failed to respond correctly to the words of the prophets in general and John the Baptist in particular.’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. this short tale crosses just about all cultural barriers and remains as applicable today as it was for Jesus’ intended audience at the time. When they refused to answer. Then the father told the other son. the tax collectors and sinners were like the first son. the chief priests and elders demanded that Jesus explain his actions. he told this parable.’ But he didn’t go. Jesus countered by asking them about the source of John the Baptist’s authority. The chief priests and religious leaders were like the second son. ‘You go. shameful act. “The first. ‘Yes.” (Matthew 21:28–31) Parables of Judgment | 245 .’ The son answered. I won’t go. go out and work in the vineyard today. sir.  “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy. ‘No. ‘Son.

but the results were the same. A certain landowner planted a vineyard. The parable. challenging His authority.The Evil Farmers Matthew 21:33–46. So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him. The image of a landowner and his vineyard was frequently associated with God and His kingdom. culminat- ing in the rejection of Jesus Himself. therefore. it is also a warning to any who would participate in the kingdom of God. These men were supposed to shepherd God’s people. Luke 20:9–19 In Matthew’s Gospel. the parable of the tenants follows the parable of the two sons. Mark 12:1–12. killed one. and in all cases. while the servants who were abused and killed were the prophets. built a wall around it. Doing God’s work has eternal consequences. and built a lookout tower. At the time of the grape harvest. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. they worked against Jesus. it is placed at the end of Jesus’ ministry. dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice.” (Matthew 21:33–36) 246 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . it is directed at the religious leaders. In Mark and Luke. The blessing of God requires absolute obedience and faithful humility. he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed his servants. While the parable was clearly a judgment on the religious leaders for failing to honor God and faithfully shepherd His people. beat one. contains a mini history of Israel.   “Now listen to another story. The tenants would have been easily recognized as God’s people. instead. and stoned another.

Yet almost immediately there is a twist.” (Matthew 22:1–2) Parables of Judgment | 247 . The leaders understood the point Jesus made but didn’t like it one bit. Jesus’ audience would have been in complete shock by this point. This man is then thrown out of the wedding. this parable has a prophetic warning. The parable reveals God’s reaction to the religious leaders’ failure to care for His people. with the king representing God and the banquet potentially referring to the end of the age. The tension builds as the king now notices someone at the wedding who should not be there. and would not go unseen or unpunished. This would have been a strange action for anyone in charge of a wedding. What kind of evil people would act in such a shameful manner? Jesus continued. The imagery would have been familiar for Jesus’ listeners. He said. The Wedding Feast Matthew 22:1–14 Like the parable of the evil farmers. “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. The king punishes the guests then throws open the doors to invite anyone on the streets to the wedding banquet.  Jesus also told them other parables. Their spiritual blindness was disgraceful. The guests refuse to come and even kill some of the servants.

“Unless you repent. then you can cut it down. Finally. Jesus had a very specific message about repentance. he said to his gardener. It was not popular then and continues to be a struggle for many today. give it one more chance. and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. How- ever. Leave it another year. ‘I’ve waited three years. anyone can be forgiven and gain access into God’s presence. If we get figs next year. but His message is actually the most loving message possible. Jesus sought to drive home His point by way of a parable about a fig tree. it will be cut down. Jesus may sound harsh here. There is one caveat—if there is still no fruit after a year. but he was always disappointed. However. the good news is that because of Jesus’ death. the owner orders the caretaker to cut the tree down and use the soil for something else. Jesus’ pas- sionate plea was for everyone to repent and be saved. It’s just taking up space in the garden.  Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it. If not. fine. too” (v. But this tree never does. the caretaker beseeches the owner to give the tree one last chance. The Unproductive Tree Luke 13:6–9 Although often considered to be simply another good moral teacher. The expectation for planting a fig tree is that it should bear fruit. you will perish. ‘Sir. There are real. having just told the people. eternal consequences for living in rebel- lion against God. Eventually. 5 nlt).’ “The gardener answered. On one such occasion.’” (Luke 13:6–9) 248 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .

Son of Genesis 3:1–19. 115 Disobey God.” Commandments. “Adam and Eve: First Dream. 5 Genesis 12:1–3. “Adam and Eve Jacob (OT): Favored Son.” Genesis 13:16. “Noah: The Ark Exodus 12. “Joseph.” p. “God Gives the Ten Genesis 12:2–3.” p. “Sweat of your brow. “Dust of the earth. 26 Scripture Reference Index | 249 .” p. 44 Red Sea. p.” p. 137 Exodus 32:3–4.” p. “A Flood Covers Exodus 14:21–31. 2 Universe. “Moses: The Reticent brow.” p. “Abraham Takes a Genesis 1–2. 42 Exodus Genesis 3:8–12. First Sin. “Sarah: Unlikely bread alone. 103 Exodus 32. 105 ghost. 171 Genesis 28:10–17. God. “Bread Falls Babel Is Built. Scripture Reference Index Genesis Genesis 22:1–19. 50 p. 3 People. 13 Genesis 6:9–14. 162 Exodus 31:18.” p.” p. “An Ax Head Floats. “Man shall not live by Genesis 21:4–7.” p.” p. 168 Genesis 22.” p. “Jesus Has the Last Builder. “Elijah Rides in a Builder”.192 Deliverer. “God Creates the Sacrifice. “The First Passover Greatest Prophet. 94 Is Celebrated. “Abraham: Heaven.” p. 82 p.” p.” p. “Sweat of your Exodus 4:13.” (OT): Favored Son. 40 Genesis 25:29–31. 178 Mother.” p.” p. “God Sends keeper.” p. First Sin. 126 Fiery Chariot. “Jacob Has a Genesis 2:18.” p. 192 Genesis 50:18–20.” p. 82 Exodus 19–20. p.” p. “Peter Has a Vision”. 162 Exodus 21:24. 48 Genesis 6:6–9 “A Flood Covers the Exodus 14. “Golden calf. “The Tower of Exodus 14:29–15:21. “Dust of the earth. “He gave up the Schemer. “Abraham: Friend of Leviticus 11.” p. “Noah: The Ark Exodus 14:13–31. 49 Genesis 11:1–9. “Elijah: Israel’s Exodus 12:1–30. 124 Promised Son. “My brother’s Exodus 7:1–12:36. “Solomon Builds Exodus 16:4–21. 5 Friend of God”. “Adam and Eve: Exodus 3:1–10. 73 Genesis 5:34. “Bread Falls from the Temple. “Jacob: The Genesis 2:7. “Solomon Builds the Temple. 56.” p.” p.” p. 164 p.” p. “Eye for an eye. 112 p. 11 Genesis 6:17–19. Son of Jacob Genesis 3.” p.” p. “Moses: The Reticent Genesis 21:1–3.” p. “God Parts the the Earth.” p. 56 Leviticus Genesis 22:12. “Isaac: The Deliverer. 4 Genesis 3:17–19. 85 Genesis 37:3.” p. 44 p. 47 Genesis 5:29. “The Bush Doesn’t First People. “Joseph. 181 Plagues on Egypt.” p.” p. 124 Genesis 4:8–9.” Earth.85 Burn.” p.” p.” p. 46 from Heaven. 126 Supper with His Disciples.” p.

p. 87 the Temple”. “Samuel: Prophet live by bread alone. “Eye for an 1 Samuel 13:14. “Eye for an eye. p.” p. eye. 178 and Priest”. “Caleb: The Faithful 2 Samuel 7:12–16.” p. “How are the mighty p. 12–13. 134 Raised.” p. “The Spies Down the House”. “The Walls of Jericho Fall. 94 Joshua 3:1–17. 164 p. p. p. “David: A Man eye. “Samson Brings Numbers 21:4–9. 142 250 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .” p. “Solomon Builds Spy. “The Good Samaritan. “Man shall not 1 Samuel 3:7–10. 224 Desperate Pray-er”. 10 his own heart”. “The Sun Stands 2 Samuel 5:1–5. 6–9. “Hannah: The Samaritan. 55 Joshua 1:1. “Joshua: The 1 Samuel 18:36–39.” p. “Gideon: A p. p. 70 Numbers Judges 14–15. “Eye for an Preaches in the Wilderness”. 56 Joshua 10:7–14. 133 Deuteronomy 1 Samuel Deuteronomy 6:5. “David: Deuteronomy 34:10–12. “A Snake Is Down the House”. “Apple of his eye. “Elijah Rides in a Fiery Chariot. p. “Samson Brings Numbers 13:1–33. “Oil and Flour 1 Samuel 13:1. 154 Deuteronomy 19:21. p. “The Sun Moves 2 Samuel 2:1–4. 52 and Foolish King. 164. 56 Joshua 14:6–9.” p.” p. p.” p.” p. 224 Judges 13:3.” p. “Solomon: Wise the House. “Solomon Builds Still. 51 fallen”. 6 Judges 16:17–19. 10 King”. p. “Deborah: Warrior Commandments. 50 Prophet”. p. 9 the Temple”.” p.” p.” 2 Samuel 1:19. 174 Joshua 10:1–15. “Samson: A Numbers 20:1–11. Leviticus 19:1. 90 1 Samuel 17. 138 Deuteronomy 14:29. p. “The Good 1 Samuel 1:12–16. 92 Leviticus 19:18. Reticent Deliverer. 102 Deuteronomy 8:2–3.” Judges 6:13–15.” p.” p. 111 Greatest Prophet. Speaks. “Samson Brings Down 1 Kings 3:7–13. p. p. 7 Judges 16:22–31. “Elijah: Israel’s Conquering Hero. 124 p. “Saul: Flawed First Keep Coming. p. “Solomon Builds Backward.” p. “A Donkey Ruth 1:16–18.” p.” p. 52 Raised. “A Snake Is Flawed Superhero”.” Reluctant Hero”. “A man after Keep Coming. 11 2 Samuel Joshua 6.” p.” p. 136 Deuteronomy 10:18. 52 Return. p. 90 Deuteronomy 32:9–10. 8 p. “John the Baptist Leviticus 24:17–20. 7 Ruth Numbers 22:21–34. “Ruth: Loyal Friend”. “Moses: The A Man after God’s Own Heart”. “Oil and Flour 1 Samuel 13:13–14. “David Defeats Joshua Goliath”. 155 1 Samuel 16:6–7. “God Gives the Ten Judges 4:4–9. 56 Judges 1 Kings Judges 3:7.” p. 16 the Temple”. 164 after God’s Own Heart”. 101 p.” p.

“Pride goes before a 1 Chronicles fall. 107 2 Kings 5:1–14.” p. “Elijah Defeats the Nehemiah 6:15–16.” Job 19:20. “A Dead Man p.” p. 1 Kings 6– 8. “Job: The Tested Healed”. “Naaman Is Job 1:20–22. “An Angel Defeats 185.” p. “Elijah Rides in a Fiery Nehemiah 13:26.” p.” p. “Elijah Rides in a Esther 4–7.” p. 156 2 Kings 19. 57 the Walls of Jerusalem.” p. “The Sun Moves Proverbs 15:1.” p. 12. Right?. 11 Haman.” p. the people perish.” p.” p.” p. 11 Builder. 56 1 Kings 10:14–29. 13–14. 14 end. 190 Proverbs 16:18. “It’s in There order.” p.” p. 203 2 Kings 20:1–11. “Nehemiah: The Wall Chariot. “An Ax Head Floats. 14 Psalm 8:1–2.” p. 58 1 Kings 18:24. p.” p. “By the skin of our p. “Job: The Tested Man. “Solomon: Wise Chariot. “Ezra: God’s Man in 1 Kings 17:13–14. “Solomon Builds Proverbs 29:18. 142 2 Kings Esther 2 Kings 1:10–14. 14 p. “Elijah Rides in a Esther 4:13–17. “At my wit’s p. 185 Somewhere. 107 Touches a Prophet’s Bones. 57 Wall Builder. “Job: The Tested Man.” 1 Kings 18:38. 57 Rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem.” p. “Esther Defeats Fiery Chariot. “A Dead Man Man. 202 Scripture Reference Index | 251 .” p. “Nehemiah: The Prophets of Baal. “Nehemiah Rebuilds the Prophets of Baal. “When there is no the Temple. “Oil and Flour Troubled Times.” 2 Kings 4:18–37. “Elijah Defeats the Nehemiah 5:14.” p. 58. 123 1 Kings 18:27. 184 1 Chronicles 22. 123 1 Kings 19:12.” p. 14 teeth. 100 Keep Coming.” p. “Elijah Defeats Nehemiah 1–6. “Solomon Builds the 2 Chronicles Temple. “Esther: Fiery Chariot. 183 Touches a Prophet’s Bones.” p. “A Dead Man Touches Psalms a Prophet’s Bones. “Job: The Tested Man. 158 2 Kings 6:1–7. “Out of the mouths of 2 Kings 13:20–21. 11 Courageous Queen.” p.” p. 96 Job 1:1. 107 2 Kings 6:18. 10 Nehemiah 1 Kings 18:20–21.” p. 11 and Foolish King.” p.” Job 42:10. “Solomon Builds the Temple. 56 the Temple.” p. 59 2 Kings 2:1–12. “Elijah Rides in a Fiery p. “A soft answer turns Backward. 13 p. “Solomon Builds 1 Kings 8:10–11.” p.” p. 98 2 Kings 2:9–10. “Put your house in Proverbs 13:24. “Nehemiah Prophets of Baal.” p. “Solomon: Wise Ezra and Foolish King.” p. “A Dead Man babes.” p. 56 vision. 107 Touches a Prophet’s Bones. 142 Ezra 9:5–6. “Elisha: The Job Man of God.” Psalm 107:23–27.” p. 15 Proverbs 2 Kings 20:1. 56 2 Chronicles 3–6.” p.” Job 1:3.000.” p. 16 away wrath.

“Daniel Is Thrown into the plowshares. “Jonah is Isaiah 40:15. “Drop in the bucket.” p. Meshach. 161 p. pearls before swine.” p. “The Wise Men Follow Fall.” p. “Put your house in Prophet. and Abednego: Men new under the sun.” p. Matthew 5:17. “Shadrach. “Don’t cast your Daniel 3:16–19.” p. 189 252 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . “Joseph. 72 Jeremiah 9:1.” p. “There’s nothing Meshach. “Can a leopard Matthew 1:1. “Salt of the earth. “Weighed in the merry. 195 Tested by Fire. “Handwriting on the is a season. 140 p. Son of Ezekiel Jacob (NT): Earthly Father of the Ezekiel 2:1–3. 182 Zechariah Isaiah 57:20–21. “Eye for an eye. 99 Matthew 2:1–12.” p.” p. “Hammer swords into Daniel 6. 164 Fiery Furnace. “The Great Feast. 106 Matthew 1:5.” p. “It’s in There Somewhere. “Jeremiah: The Weeping Prophet.” p. “Apple of his eye. “The Wise Men Daniel Follow a Star. 185 Jonah 1:1–2:10. 82. Meshach.” p. 186 Daniel 1:20. and be Daniel 5:26–28. “Shadrach. 182 p. 173 Ecclesiastes 8:15. 68 Matthew 4:4.” p. 110 order.” p. “Jeremiah: The after God’s Own Heart. 140 narrow. “Jonah: The Reluctant Isaiah 38:1.Ecclesiastes Daniel 3:22–27.” p. “Peter Has a Vision. “No peace for the Zechariah 2:8. 68 Matthew 1:18–19.” p. “The Walls of Jericho Jeremiah 31. 140 Matthew 5:38. “Shadrach.” and Abednego: Men Tested by p.” Swallowed by a Great Fish. 230 Jonah 1:1–3. 203 Jonah Isaiah 25. 62 Isaiah 6:6–8. “Straight and Tested by Fire.” p.” p. and Abednego: Men Matthew 7:13–14. “David: A Man Jeremiah 29:11–14. 155 Zechariah 9:9–11. “Eat.” p. bread alone.” p. Ecclesiastes 1:9–10. 160 Meshach. 61 Matthew 7:6.” Fire. drink.” p.” p. “Jesus Enters Jeremiah Jerusalem. “To everything there Daniel 5:5–6. 163 balances and found wanting. 170 Lions’ Den. 200 Isaiah 2:4. Right?.” p. “Man shall not live by Daniel 1:3–5. “Ezekiel: God’s Son of God. 90 Weeping Prophet. 197 wall. 26 Fire. 115 Visionary.” p. 159 of God.” p.” p. “Isaiah: A Handpicked Daniel 9:20–23.” Isaiah p.” p. 104 Prayer.” p. 88 Isaiah 11:6. 65 Isaiah 48:22.” p. “Daniel: Man of Prophet.” p.” wicked.” p.” Daniel 3. 51 a Star.” p. 106 Matthew Jeremiah 13:22–23. 140 Ecclesiastes 3:1.” p. “Daniel’s Friends Survive a p.” p. “Abraham: Friend change his spots?.” p. “No peace for the wicked. 178 and Abednego: Men Tested by Matthew 5:13. “Shadrach.

244 Disciple Jesus Loved.” p. 19 Restored Denier. 165 Matthew 20:1–16. 208 Matthew 24:45–51. 214 Restored Denier.” p. “Jesus Heals a Crippled Matthew 14:29–31.” p.” p.” p. “False prophets. “Wars and rumors ground. “The Yeast. “The Soils. 209 Matthew 25:1–13. 24 Floats.” p. “The Fishing Matthew 28:1–15. 211 Money. Matthew 19:13–15.” Matthew 16:1–3. 18 clothing. 205 times. 130 Mark 3:13–14. 122 Matthew 21:28–32. but few are chosen. “The Workers in Matthew 9:9–13. “The Great Price”. “Many are called. 219 Matthew 13:47–50. “Jesus Stops a Restored Denier. “John: The Disciple Jesus Loved. “The Faithful Matthew 13:31–32.” p.” p.” p. p.” p. “John: The Unforgiving Debtor. 108 Matthew 15:10–14.” p. “The Soils.” p. 239 Seed.” Mark 4:19. 210 Bridesmaids. 20 Matthew 17:1–13. “Stories Jesus Told. 233 Mark 9:2–13. “The Treasure. “The Mustard Seed. 245 divided.” p. “The blind Mark 3–8.” p.” p. 177.” p.” p. “The Soils. “Peter: The Seed. 24. “The Soils. 216 Tax Collecting Disciple. 17. “Peter: The Hand. “The Two Matthew 12:24–25. 213 from the Dead. 212 Nobleman’s Servants. “The Pearl of Matthew 25:14–30. Matthew 13:3–8. 66 Mark 3:3–5.” p. “Jonah is Feast. “Peter: The p. “The Wedding Matthew 12:39–40.” clothing. 246 Reluctant Prophet. “Fell on rocky Matthew 24:6–7.” p. “The Soils.” Matthew 16:23. “The Lost Mark 8:15.” p. “The Transfigured.” p. “Signs of the p. “Matthew: The the Vineyard.” p.” p. “A house Sons. 130 Storm. 13 Matthew 18:12–14. 153 Matthew 21:33–46. “The Mustard and Sensible Servant. 110 Matthew 22:1–2. “Jesus Is Matthew 18:23–25.” p.” p. 207 Matthew 24:24.” Matthew 25:14.” p.” p.” p.” p. 247 Matthew 13:5–6.” p. 199 Matthew 13:24. “Jesus Is Raised Net. 207 p. 108 Scripture Reference Index | 253 .” p.” p.” Mark p. 166 of wars.” p. 130 Mark 4:30–32. “The Loaned p. “Jesus Is Mark 5:21–43.” p.” p. 187 Mark 4:10–20.” p. 207 “The Wedding Feast. “The Weeds.” p. 65 Matthew 22:1–14. 217 Matthew 13:45–46. “False prophets. “The Yeast.” p. 210 Sheep. “The Yeast. 165 p.” p. 209 Mark 4:35–41.” p. “Jonah: The Farmers. “Jesus Is Born.” p. 207 Matthew 16:11–12.Matthew 7:15. “Jesus Blesses which come to you in sheep’s the Children. 242 Matthew 13:44. 207 leading the blind. “The Evil Matthew 12:39.” p. 76 Matthew 13:55. 157 Mark 4:9. “An Ax Head Transfigured. “The Growing Matthew 16:13–19. “The Ten Matthew 13:33. which come to you in sheep’s Matthew 13:24–30. 247 Swallowed by a Great Fish.” p.” p. 210 Mark 4:26–29.

“The Lost Sheep.” Luke 16:1–9. 38. 139 p. “John the Baptist Tree.” p. 239 p. 226 Mom. p.” p. 108 Sisters.” Home Owner. 66 Luke 14:1.” p.” Luke 2:1–20. 70 Luke 13:6–9.” p. 66 p. “The Traveling Home Luke 10:30–37. 234 Luke 7:11–15. “The Friend at Luke 1:1–4. 70 Luke 13:20–21. 246 Resurrection Eye-Witness. “The Traveling Luke 10:33–36. 139 p. 210 Luke 1:27. 157 p. 231 Luke 7:41–43.” p. “Elizabeth: Joyful Feast. 93 p. “Simeon and Anna: Luke 15:3–7. “Wars and rumors of Luke 8:5–8.” Faithful Believers.” p. “The Great Feast. 233 Luke 6:39. 226 Said Yes to God.” p. “The Forgiven Luke 17:7–10. “Jesus Is Born. p. 22 Luke 11:5–8. “The blind leading the Luke 15:8–10. “The Friend at Midnight.” p. “The Wedding Luke 1:39–45.” p. 169 Mark 14:33.” p. “The Mustard Preaches in the Wilderness. “The Rich Fool.” Luke 15:11–32. “The Wedding Feast. 70 p.” p.” p. “Elizabeth: Joyful Mom. 153 Preaches in the Wilderness. 240 Samaritan. 229 Luke 1:6.” Seed. “Luke: The Missionary Midnight. “Mary and Martha: Jesus Loved. 207 wars. “Jesus Is Born. “A house divided.” p.” p.” p. “Jesus Feeds 5. 230 Luke 2:33.” Luke 1:28–34.” p.” Sensible Servant.000.” p. “The Soils. “The Lost Coin. 199 Luke 9:10–17. “The Shrewd p. “The Rich Fool.” p. “The Great Feast. “Jesus Is clothing. 165 Transfigured.” p. “John the Baptist Luke 12:42–48.” p.” p.” Luke 12:16–21.” p. 209 p. and Friends of Jesus.” Mark 13:22. 116 Luke 11:17. 237 Manager. “An Ax Head Floats. 119 Luke 14:7–11.” Luke 1:5–20. “John the Baptist p. “Mark Runs Away p. “The Forgiven Debts.” p. 24 Mark 13:26. 218 254 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . 240 p.” Anna: Faithful Believers.” Debts.” p.” p. “The Evil Farmers. “The Unproductive Luke 1:20.” p. 235 Luke 7:37. 229 Luke 1:16. 222 Doctor. p. 23 which come to you in sheep’s Luke 9:28–36. 93 Luke 14:15. “Good Samaritan. “The Good Owner. “The Faithful and Preaches in the Wilderness.” blind. “The Yeast”. “False prophets.” Mark 14:50–52. 230 Luke 2:25–28. “Simeon and Luke 14:16–24. 222 Luke Luke 11:13.” Luke 12:15. 224 Mark 13:34–37.” p. Mark 12:1–12.” p. 237 p. 248 Luke 13:18–19. “The Lost Son. “John: The Disciple Luke 10:38–42. 13 p. “Mary Magdalene: p.” Luke 8:2. “Mary: The One Who p. 120 Naked. 121 Mark 13:7. “The Servant’s Role.

“An Ax Head Floats. “The Holy Denier. 144 p. 130 Luke 23:26–49. “The Evil Farmers. 219 Resurrection Eye-Witness.” p. 71 p. Luke 18:1–8. 77.” John 3:27–30.” Mustard Seed. “Jesus Ascends to gave up the ghost.” p. 3 Acts 5:1–11. let him cast the first Acts 7:54–60.” Preaches in the Wilderness. “Saul Becomes a Doubter”.” p. 209 p. 7 Acts 6:1–7.” Acts 11:24–26. “What is truth?”.” p. “Barnabas: More p.” p.” p.” p.” John 13:23. “Peter Escapes from Jerusalem. 78.” from the Dead. “John the Baptist Acts 6:8. “The Nobleman’s John 20:17. “The Proud Pharisee John 14:6. “Stephen: First Martyr.” p. “Stephen: First stone.” Resurrection Eye-Witness. 221 Jesus Loved. 75 Acts Luke 23:46.” p. “Thomas: Honest p. 77 Acts 2. 109 Acts 6:5. “Philip: The you free”. “John: The Disciple p.” John 18:37–38.” “He Acts 1:6–11. 73 Denier.” p. 130 Spirit Comes. 78 p. 121 John 20:24–29.” Comes. 194 Evangelist. 121 Luke 19:11–27.” p. 131 John 11:16.” p. 146 Luke 22:7–20. “John the Baptist: p.” p.” p. “Ananias and Sapphira John 3:14–15. p. “The Proud Pharisee John 20:14–16. 246 Doubter. “Peter: The Restored to Heaven. “Mary Magdalene: Servants. “Jesus Ascends John 1:42. “Jesus Has the Last John 21. 201 and the Corrupt Tax Collector. 227 p.” p. 79 among you. 86 John 12:12–19. “Peter: The John 1:19–28. 108 Luke 18:9–10. “John the Baptist Restored Denier. “Peter: The Restored Supper with His Disciples. p. “Jesus Is Crucified.” p. 13 Than a Sidekick.” p. 144 John 3:30. 70 Acts 2:1–4.” Luke 20:9–19. “Ananias and Sapphira Meet John the Truth. “Peter Has a Vision.” p. 144 John 8:31–32.” p.” Meet the Truth. 131 The Forerunner. “Philip: The Evangelist.” p.” p. “The Preaches in the Wilderness. “Thomas: Honest Acts 9:1–22. “He that is without sin Jesus.” p.” p. 25. “Mary Magdalene: and the Corrupt Tax Collector.” p. “Jacob Has a Dream.” p. “The Holy Spirit John 1:51. 201 Luke 18:9–14.” p. 130. “A Snake Is Raised. 25 p. 72 Prison.” p. “Saul Becomes a Follower of John 8:7. 146 Follower of Jesus. “Lazarus Is Raised Acts 10:9–33. “Jesus Enters Acts 12:6–19. “Stephen: First Martyr. 172 Martyr. 227 p. 28 Scripture Reference Index | 255 . 79 John 11:1–44. “The truth shall set Acts 8:29–31. 26 John 11:1–46. “Jesus Is Crucified. 70 Acts 7. 171 Heaven.” p. “The Unjust Judge.” p. p.” p. “What is truth?” p.

“Lydia: Convert at 2 Corinthians 12:7. 180 Acts 21:8. 193 Romans 2:14–15. 31 Survives a Shipwreck. “Philip: The Evangelist.” p. 131 1 Thessalonians 1:2–4. 175 Shipwreck.” p.” p.” p. “Suffer fools Deadly Snake. 35 money is the root of all evil.” p. 36 Acts 16:25–34. 42 Romans 16:3–4. “Paul Shakes Off a 1 Timothy 6:9–10.” p. “Paul and Silas Sing in Prison.” p. Right?” p. 82 256 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .” p. “A law unto 1 Timothy 6:10. 34 than to receive. “Paul and Silas Sing in 2 Corinthians 12:7–10. 31 Acts 16:13–15. 148 Capital Punishment. “Timothy: Protégé 2 Corinthians 12:1–4. 191 Acts 14:19–20. “Paul Survives Pastor. 148 1 Corinthians 5:7.” p.” p. “The love of Deadly Snake. 148 2 Timothy 1:5-7.” p. 10. 203 Romans 5:17. 176 God”.” p. 32 Philippians Acts 18:3.” p. “Paul Capital Punishment.” p. 128 Acts 20:7–12. “Labor of Acts 27:1–44. 196 Acts 16:19.” p.” p. p. “Paul Prison. 117 the flesh.” p. “Thorn in the River. 32 Survives a Shipwreck. “Adam and Eve 1 Timothy 6:12. “It’s in There themselves. “Timothy: Protégé Workers. “Paul: The Shipwreck. 152 Somewhere. 34 Colossians 4:14.” p. 48 Hebrews 1 Corinthians 15:52–53.” p.” Romans p.” 1 Thessalonians p.” p. 35 gladly. “Paul Survives a love. “Sarah: Unlikely of an eye. “Priscilla and 2 Timothy Aquilla: Behind-the-Scenes 2 Timothy 1:3–4.” p. “Paul Survives a Philippians 3:13–14.” p.” p. 132 Pastor. 137 2 Corinthians James 2 Corinthians 3:6. “More blessed to give Brought Back to Life. “The First Passover Is Celebrated. “Letter of the James 2:23.” p. Acts 14:8–18. 167 Disobey God. “Eutychus Is Acts 20:35. “Abraham: Friend of law.” p. “Paul Shakes Off a 2 Corinthians 11:19. “Twinkling Hebrews 11:11. “Timothy: Protégé 1 Corinthians Pastor.” p. 36 Great Missionary. 36 1 Timothy Acts 28:3–6. 36 Acts 16:1–5. 198 Mother.” p.” p. “Eutychus Is Brought Colossians Back to Life. “Fight the good fight. “Paul Survives 2 Corinthians 11:23–29.” p.

He wrote The Life of Jesus (Baker) and has contributed to many other publications. DMin. Illinois. Heidi. Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando). A graduate of the University of Montevallo (Alabama). Illinois). He has an MA from the University of Chicago and an MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield. including the Student’s Life Application Bible (Tyndale House) and 500 Questions & Answers from the Bible (Barbour). in Miami. Louis. he resides with his wife. About the Writers Kent Keller. and Covenant Theological Seminary (St. have four young daughters. He has written for and been published in numerous popular and scholarly works. DMin Kent Keller. including The Apologetics Study Bible (B & H). Contributors Writers Kent Keller Jonathan Ziman Project Manager Dave Veerman Interior Design Larry Taylor and Tom Shumaker Compositor/Typesetter Tom Shumaker Additional Help Katie Arnold Joel Bartlett Linda Taylor Dave Veerman Linda Washington A b o u t t h e Wr i t e r s | 257 . Jonathan and his wife. Missouri). They have four children. Jonathan Ziman Jonathan Ziman is a community life pastor at Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton. Florida. is the senior pastor of Kendall Presbyterian Church in Miami. Kari.

Arranged in canonical order.  W here did… the scripture come from?   What is… God really like?   What do… some of those confusing Bible pas- sages really mean? Scores of questions are answered in user-friendly language. accessible format—and it’s fully illustrated in color! ISBN 978-1-59789-473-9 Trade paperback • 256 pages • $9. 258 | B i b l e Fi n d I t  . 500 Questions & Answers from the Bible is an excellent resource for regular Bible study. based on sound Christian doctrine. Its open design presents a wealth of information in an appealing.For inquisitive readers of any age—adults and students alike— here’s a book to shed light on the Bible’s great questions.99 Available wherever Christian books are sold.

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