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

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
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copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of
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Scripture quotations marked niv are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®.
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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 A Donkey Speaks. . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 8 Paul Survives Capital Punishment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Oil and Flour Keep Coming. . . . . . . . . . . 6 A Snake Is Raised. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Table of Contents Introduction. . 1 2 An Ax Head Floats. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 0 Elijah Rides in a Fiery Chariot. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 An Angel Defeats 185. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Spies Return. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 4 Ananias and Sapphira Meet the Truth. . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 Jesus Feeds 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . x i i Amazing Occurrences Abraham Makes a Sacrifice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 Jesus Heals a Crippled Hand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Bread Falls from Heaven. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 The Sun Stands Still. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1 Naaman Is Healed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The Bush Doesn’t Burn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 5 The Sun Moves Backward. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 1 Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s  | v . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0 Mark Runs Away Naked. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 5 Peter Has a Vision. . . . . . . . . . . 2 6 Peter Escapes from Prison. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 Jesus Blesses the Children. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Jacob Has a Dream. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 A Dead Man Touches a Prophet’s Bones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9 Jesus Stops a Storm. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .000. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 Jesus Is Transfigured. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

bread falling from the sky. angels taking on whole armies. So step right up and feast your eyes on some of the most amazing events ever to occur in history. Sometimes He performed them through trusted individuals who had faith in His power.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.  . Such a belief doesn’t take into account the real God who could perform all of these miraculous events.

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

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

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

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

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

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 . God then graciously made a way of deliverance for those who had been stricken: while they were help- less to save themselves. so the Son of Man must be lifted up. they could merely look at a bronze replica of a snake Moses made and they would be healed. After the Lord miraculously provided water for them in the wilderness (Numbers 20:1–11). 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. 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. “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. this time He got their attention.  Then the Lord told him. the people once again quickly forgot His goodness to them and whined about the lack of water and “suitable” food. so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life” (John 3:14–15 nlt). This time God grew impatient with their ingratitude and allowed poisonous snakes to bite them. Not surprisingly. asking him to pray for them. 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. In this way the Lord reminded them of the serious consequences of their sin and of His graciousness to them as their covenant God. Num- bers 21 is another painful example of the people’s pre- disposition toward complaining. They cried out to Moses.

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

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

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

 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

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
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

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

perhaps more keenly aware now of the preciousness of time. this story is for you. The king. King Hezekiah of Judah received the dreaded diagnosis of his impending death not from a royal physician but a divinely anointed prophet. 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). confirming for Hezekiah that his life would indeed be extended. God did it.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. “so that would be easy. understandably. But sometimes He does. “This is the sign from the Lord to prove that he will do as he promised. God then did something virtually un- paralleled in Scripture: He gave Hezekiah a choice of miraculous signs. even telling Hezekiah (through Isaiah) how much more time he would be given—fifteen years. his initial reaction was one of sadness. Like most of us. Isaiah. Make it go ten steps backward instead. Would you like the shadow on the sundial to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps?” “The shadow always moves forward.  Meanwhile. “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.” Hezekiah replied. Hezekiah had said to Isaiah. 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 . Although God does not always grant such requests. Hezekiah. So he asked for a sign. thereby supernaturally either shortening the day or lengthening the day. Again.” So Isaiah the prophet asked the Lord to do this. this time He did. God doesn’t always say yes to such prayers. much as we wish He would. God would cause the shadow on the sundial of King Ahaz to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps. His next response was to cry out to the Lord and ask for healing. wanted some assurance that this would indeed be the case. depending on Hezekiah’s decision.

Amazing Occurrences | 17 .

Of course there are times when young people get out of control and need some serious. we need to consider how Jesus received them: as opportunities for blessing and advancing God’s kingdom. 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. perhaps. because the noise level of the youth activity reaches that point at which the adults’ heads begin to turn and frowns appear. however. and the youth group or children’s ministry is in another room close by. before either bodily injuries or structural damages occur.  One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. “Let the children come to me. (Matthew 19:13–15 nlt) 18 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. Yet the disciples “scolded the parents for bothering him” (v. 13). immediate crowd control. Far from being bothered. But Jesus said. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children. But rather than see them as nuisances. Too close. Those parents sensed there was something about Him that was different. 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.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.

and it was restored! (Mark 3:3–5 nlt) Amazing Occurrences | 19 . So when He did.  Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand. Regardless of your views on Sabbath keeping. restoring the withered hand of a man there. Imagine seeing a man healed of a severe deformity and quibbling over when it happened! They had come specifically to watch Jesus. He asked if the law permitted such good works—and they refused to answer. In their view such healing would violate the law of Moses.” Then he turned to his critics and asked. Jesus was angry and deeply saddened by their callousness and lack of compassion. including yourself. “Come and stand in front of everyone. right? No doubt you would rejoice either way. already renowned as a miraculous healer. blindness or deafness. with a significant physical disability— cerebral palsy. “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath. “Hold out your hand. the scribes and Pharisees this day in the synagogue.” So the man held out his hand. Then he said to the man. 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. “Hard-hearted” pretty well sums up Jesus’ enemies. to see if He would heal anyone on the Sabbath. Jesus Heals a Crippled Hand Mark 3:1–6 Do you know anyone. He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. crippling arthritis. he challenged those critics. or Parkinson’s disease? How would you react if the Lord healed that person or yourself during a Sunday morning worship service? Silly question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing Occurrences | 27 .

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

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

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

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

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

there was a massive earthquake. and the other prisoners were listening. Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God. and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. Suddenly. so he drew his sword to kill himself. He assumed the prisoners had escaped. 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. But Paul shouted to him.

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

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

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

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

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God’s rescue of his people Israel. In these stories. On the following pages we’ve listed the key events in the Bible and where you can find them. Many are turning points in redemptive history. and the birth of a Savior—God’s solution to the problem of sin. Big Events I f someone were to ask you to list the major events discussed in the Bible. 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. the birth of a nation.  . you’ll find a world created. the first sin and its aftermath.

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

human life would not be possible. All sea life would die. „„ The moon. it seems that the universe was designed to support human life. none of us would be around to breathe it. If the ratio of carbon to oxygen in the atmosphere had been slightly different. Other critical factors such as the precise strength of the force of gravity. (Genesis 1:1 nlt) Big Events | 41 . accepting the truth of Genesis 1:1. when water freezes. seems a lot more reasonable. the exact balance of the electrical force. Unlike most other substances. and the uniformity of the universe in all directions show the need for precise calibration. however. the ocean tides would be so enormous that all the continents would be submerged. „„ Earth’s atmosphere. the rate of the expansion of the universe from the moment of creation on. „„ Water. Even the mountains would erode.000 miles away from the earth instead of 200.000 miles. lakes and rivers would freeze in cold weather all the way down to the bottom. it expands and floats. So. Any of the above events could have just happened.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. If water didn’t have this unique property. Without it. If the moon were 50.

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

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

ever wish you could take a fire hose to scrub your town clean and just start all over? Believe it or not. hatred. 6:6 nlt). Everything on earth will die. that’s how God felt in an earlier epoch of human his- tory. 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. “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. But I will confirm my covenant with you. and heartbreak on your local news.A Flood Covers the Earth Genesis 6—9 While watching or listening to the stories of violence. It broke his heart” (Gen. corruption.” (Genesis 6:17–19 nlt) 44 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many of the temple furnishings were made of gold.000 sheep and goats were sacrificed. 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 an outer courtyard. the temple was to have three sections: the Holy Place. the Most Holy Place. which had been used for centuries. At the temple dedication. 120. Despite the great growth and accomplishments of his people. God himself was going to inhabit the Most Holy Place in the inner sanctuary. God had called the nation of Israel to be his covenant people. Solomon executed the plan beginning in about 966 bc over a seven-year period. But the most amazing sight of all was when the glory of God de- scended upon the temple. (1 Kings 8:10–11) 56 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Like the tabernacle. along with 22. 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. But God told David that David’s son Solomon would be the one to build it. Stones used to build the temple had to be chiseled off site by killed work- ers.000 cattle. and 30 feet wide and built from cedar trees of Tyre. Noth- ing less than the spectacular would be good enough. The temple was built on the mountain where Abraham offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22).  When the priests came out of the Holy Place. and reaching a culmination with the anointing of King David (2 Samuel 2:1–4. Since David had already collected offerings from the people and work- ers to build the temple (1 Chronicles 22). for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud. 45 feet high. continuing through Moses. beginning with Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3). 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. It was 90 feet long.Solomon Builds the Temple 1 Kings 6–8. the most magnificent building anyone had ever seen was Israel’s first temple. 5:1–5). a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord.

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

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

Besides. 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. What choice would you have made? Mordecai encouraged Esther to act on behalf of her people. If you keep quiet at a time like this. Esther was chosen over many others to be queen. she saved her people. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14 nlt) Big Events | 59 . After Xerxes’s wife Vashti disobeyed his command to appear before him at a banquet. 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. Because the proposed genocide was overturned. “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (4:14 nlt) Queen Esther stepped up. on the advice of her older cousin Mordecai. Appearing before the king without being summoned was an offense punishable by death.  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. a new holiday was born—Purim. He warned that even if she remained silent she wasn’t necessarily safe. deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place. regardless of the risks. taking her life in her hands and intervening with the king on behalf of her people. a Persian king in the late fifth or early fourth century. Her heritage remained secret until a plot was developed to exterminate all the Jews in Persia. Esther. By God’s grace. you can feel isolated or even an outcast. but you and your relatives will die. The originator of this plot was Haman. or even home? When- ever a situation arises that involves moral or ethical tension. whose given name was Hadassah. 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. Xerxes made a decree allowing the genocide. he urged. not to reveal her ethnicity to the king. She decided. classroom.

He will rescue us from your power. the God whom we serve is able to save us. Your Majesty. that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.  “O Nebuchadnezzar. 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 . But even if he doesn’t. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace. Your Majesty. we want to make it clear to you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now He called attention to Himself. fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Don’t be afraid.Jesus Enters Jerusalem John 12:12–19 How would you expect a king to enter a city? You might expect public fanfare. 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. Jesus avoided calling attention to Himself—what theologians call the messianic secret. Zechariah’s words came true as Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem. veiling Himself. For most of His public ministry. riding on a donkey’s colt. perhaps a ticker tape parade and a motorcade many blocks long. The King had come. 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. On a donkey’s colt he rode into town. 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). 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. no more secret.” (John 12:14–15 nlt) 72 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . and pilgrims flocking to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. people of Jerusalem. parables. Look. No more riddles. 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. your King is coming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Of all the people who can be found in the pages of the Bible.  . The Bible is a collection of stories about ordinary people who served an extraordinary God. 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. who are your favorites? What follows are profiles of well-known Bible characters—warts and all. Favorite Folks C onsider your favorite stories—the ones you might have grown up hearing and loving.

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

In response to Abraham’s faith. Isaac. and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 83 . He also was known as the first of the patriarchs (the fathers of the Jewish people) and a man of incredible faith in God. “‘Abraham believed God. a descendant of David and of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1 nlt). he was also known as the friend of God. even when asked to sacrifice his only son. military success over local enemies. when appropriate.’ He was even called the friend of God” (James 2:23 nlt). “I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son. Matthew opens his Gospel like this: “This is a re- cord of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah. In the New Testament. Best of all. 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.Despite being a foreigner among a foreign people. 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. God blessed Abraham with astonishing wealth and. your only son” (Genesis 22:12 nlt). the angel of the Lord told him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do not eat or drink for three days. My maids and I will do the same. Queen Vashti. Ultimately. 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. Haman’s plan backfired. As a result. after a particularly long and elaborate ban- quet.” So Mordecai went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. night or day. What would Esther do? She was the only hope the people had of reaching the king and having the decree reversed. Haman convinced the king to issue a decree stating that all Jews be killed. Despite the danger. During this time Mordecai displeased Haman. (Esther 4:13–17 nlt) 98 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . I will go in to see the king. as Esther successfully saves the Jews from destruction. Esther courageously appeared before the king and asked him to protect her people from the decree. But the story ends with a decision that Cinderella never had to make. But anyone who came before the king without a summons could be sentenced to death. deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place. 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. a fact she had been careful to hide this entire time. who was raised by Mordecai. If I must die. She was willing to sacrifice her life. As a result of Esther’s quick thinking. Esther was a Jew. After she refused to come. Esther. and he was hanged on the very gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. a new holiday was born: Purim. Moreover. One day. I must die. And then. by refusing to bow down to Haman. the second in command of the kingdom. Xerxes banished her. but you and your relatives will die. If you keep quiet at a time like this. 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. was chosen. though it is against the law. to parade herself before him and his officials. 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.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. a relative. Then his officials scoured the kingdom for young women to replace her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet For the most part it is easy to generate feelings of compassion for people we like. But God had yet another lesson for his prophet: the lesson of compassion. However. 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). He went down to the port of Joppa. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are. The only way to solve the problem was to throw him overboard. the whole city repented! Rather than rejoicing at this change of heart. Jonah complained. After God sent a huge storm that nearly destroyed the ship. He bought a ticket and went on board. But if we look more closely. Shouldn’t he feel compassion for an entire city. His story begins with a direct word from God telling him to go and preach against the city of Nineveh. Jonah had no desire to preach to these enemies of Israel. where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. (Jonah 1:1–3 nlt) 110 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Nineveh was an Assyrian city. a compliant Jonah headed to Nineveh to preach God’s message. 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. To his dismay.  The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Usually these are the folks we find ourselves wanting to help. Jonah knew that he had placed everyone in danger. When the sailors complied. 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. Once he returned to shore.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. But God was not about to let his prophet say no. Jonah was swallowed by the fish. one of the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel (750 BC). where he remained for three days and nights. we’ll see that his story is actually about compassion “ for other people. Jonah was a prophet of God during the reign of Jeroboam II. Instead of following God’s command. he boarded a ship going in the opposite direction to the city of Tarshish.

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

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

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

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

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

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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)

Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 119

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
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)

Fa v o r i t e Fo l k s | 121

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. For most of her life. 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. Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded. “God has brought me laughter. She believed that God would keep his promise” (Hebrews 11:11 nlt). a new life within Sarah was just beginning. or “laughter. “It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child.” a name given by God and reflective of their response to God’s promise. Sarah and Sarai mean “princess. even going so far as to encourage him to sleep with a concubine. Sarah actually laughed out loud and was gently rebuked by God as a result. when some visitors appeared from God to confirm this promise. Sarah was actually named Sarai. Sarah had a son.  Eight days after Isaac was born. promised to give them a son. when she was ninety years old. Sarah may have struggled at times with the incredible pressures to bear Abraham a son. this promise seemed laughable. Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. All who hear about this will laugh with me.” Marriage to Abraham. though she was barren and was too old. the great patriarch. was challenging at times. A year later. and indeed. God’s promise came true. However. And Sarah declared. But the greatest challenge of all was barrenness. 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 . however. God. God’s call to leave their extended family and move to a strange land. whom they named Isaac. but ultimately her faith was rewarded by God and celebrated by the author of the New Testament book of Hebrews. God told Abram about the covenant he was making with them and Sarai’s name was changed to Sarah. Given their advanced age.

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

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

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

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

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

And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people. David. 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. So God replied. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. you have made me king instead of my father. “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 . O Lord my God. “Now.

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

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

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

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

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

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Over the centuries they have become part of our lexicon. 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.  . Maybe you’ve said a few yourself. Overheard Quotes T here are many quotes from the King James Version of the Bible in use every day.

Upholding the Law meant favor in the sight of God and blessing. The Jews were given the law of Moses and the Pentateuch (Genesis. Many Jews thought that the Gentiles. the person knew right from wrong in his heart and was therefore a “law unto himself. their conscience also bearing witness.”  For when the Gentiles. having not the law. Numbers.“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. are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts. Even if a Gentile had never heard the law. and Deuteronomy) as God’s written rules or laws for their lives. which have not the law. these. But this quote came from the apostle Paul. and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. who were never given God’s law and requirements. were not subject to these rules but were also not entitled to any of the blessings mentioned. In this context. do by nature the things contained in the law. Exodus. (Romans 2:14-15) 152 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . “a law unto themselves” was specifically referring to the Gentiles. Leviticus. Disobeying the Law meant punishment. Paul was telling the Jewish leaders that God wrote His laws on the hearts of humankind.

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

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

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

they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. For he commandeth. The psalms were originally written in Hebrew. The sailors in the passage have lost their courage and physical strength and are powerless against the storm. The Lord alone brings them out of their troubles and restores their feet to solid ground. they had come to the end of their wit (wisdom). that do business in great waters. and are at their wits‘ end. At this point. They mount up to the heaven. and stagger like a drunken man. which lifteth up the waves thereof. The psalmist is conveying deep mental and emotional distress. The same is true for us today.  They that go down to the sea in ships.“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.” In other words. They reel to and fro. these see the works of the Lord. the only person they can turn to is God. and a more wooden translation would be something like “Their wisdom was confused. (Psalm 107:23–27) 156 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . There are seemingly no other options left. and his wonders in the deep. It conveys a sense of distress that goes beyond mere indecision. We can thank the translators of the King James Bible for making this such a common phrase today. and raiseth the stormy wind.

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

“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. for a Redeemer who will support his cause. (Job 19:20) 158 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . When working on the King James Version of the Bible.” The point here is that Job has escaped death. Throughout this passage Job cries out for justice. the translators simply made a direct word-for-word translation: “with the skin of my teeth. and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. The resulting English idiom has lost this overarching context and come to refer simply to any kind of narrow escape. 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.

of course. that are accustomed to do evil. “can a leopard change his spots?” Clearly this a rhetorical question. For them to change now would be as im- possible as a leopard chang- ing his spots. of course not. We find this phrase in the book of Jeremiah. 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. which describes the impend- ing invasion and capture of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered. Jeremiah now told them that they had become so accustomed to rebelling against God that they no longer knew how to do good.  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. or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good. (Jeremiah 13:22–23) Overheard Quotes | 159 . since the answer is no. Can the Ethiopian change his skin. “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. for after all. The pessimist might answer in the negative. Their behavior had come to define them completely. These days. and thy heels made bare.

Pearls continue to symbolize beauty and perfection.  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs. It is an exhortation to prudence and caution. neither cast ye your pearls before swine. 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. and turn again and rend you.“Don’t cast your pearls before swine” Broadly speaking. thus making the comparison even more extreme. this common phrase is most often used as a warning to be careful with the gifts that have been entrusted to us. (Matthew 7:6) 160 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . The only additional twist for Jesus’ audience would have been that pigs were ritually unclean animals. 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. lest they trample them under their feet. The context for this word picture is one of Jesus’ most well-known sermons: the Sermon on the Mount.

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

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

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

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

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

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

a fight for eternal life. 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. lay hold on eternal life. however. The complete phrase is actually an exhortation to “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. and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 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.  Fight the good fight of faith. Having received such a gift.” Timothy’s battle wasn’t about proving athletic prowess or asserting his opinion. whereunto thou art also called. “Fight the good fight” in reference to overcoming an injury or battling back against insurmountable odds. Paul told Timothy that he was in a fight of faith. (1 Timothy 6:12) Overheard Quotes | 167 . we need to fight against the sin in our lives and the temptations of the world lest we be led astray. Nor was this a fight against physical infirmity or financial setback.

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

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

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

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

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

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

severely wounded. his friendship with Jonathan. His son Jonathan was killed. 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” 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.” three times in his lament. Both father and son had been accomplished warriors. David praised their strength. David composed a song to honor Saul and Jonathan and ordered that it be taught to the men of Judah. and Saul’s elevated status as God’s anointed one. When the messengers brought the news to David.  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 . “how are the mighty fallen. his response was utter grief. we might hear this phrase. David actually repeats this line. Anytime someone or something fails to live up to that title. took his own life. and Saul.

“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.” On the one hand. in the sight of God and our Father. not because we hope to gain anything from it other than personal satisfaction. including their labor of love. When Paul thanked God for the people of Thessalonica. remembering without ceasing your work of faith. Paul was writing to a new church that had a lot of questions about their newfound faith.  We give thanks to God always for you all. your election of God. and labour of love. we sac- rificially serve oth- ers at some cost to ourselves simply because we love them. At other times. (1 Thessalonians 1:2–4) Overheard Quotes | 175 . he praised them for a number of things. It’s just a labor of love. and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. The church also endured persecution. Paul commended the believers for their faithful work in the name of Jesus and not giving up hope. we pursue a hobby or goal at great personal cost. 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. making mention of you in our prayers. brethren beloved.

” The old covenant referred to the law of Moses. (2 Corinthians 3:6) 176 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .” 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. In fact. This old covenant. not of the letter.” it is almost always in contrast to following the “spirit of the law. fixed position with no room for grace. it could only lead to death. Strict obedience to the law was nice but never saved anyone. but the spirit giveth life.  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament. but of the spirit: for the letter killeth. however. It simply highlighted sin. 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. the law given to point people to God. It implies a stern. He drew a distinction between the “old covenant” and the “new covenant. The apostle Paul’s concern about “the letter of the law” was not quite the same as ours. “Letter of the law” When we speak of following the “letter of the law. this written code. was never able to justify anyone.

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

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

Overheard Quotes | 179 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate. and broad is the way. Here Jesus was telling the assembled masses that the way to destruc- tion is wide and easy. and few there be that find it. however. ultimately it will lead to death. (Matthew 7:13–14) Overheard Quotes | 189 . 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. “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. Drifting along on the waves of sinful self- centeredness may seem pleasant for a while. He searched for disciples who would throw in their lot with Him. and narrow is the way. which leadeth unto life. that leadeth to destruction. “I’m on the straight and narrow” implies living a morally upright life. Rather. and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate. where addictions have been dealt with and criminal pasts left behind. whatever the cost. Following Jesus requires complete commitment to Him.

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

but the tone of this entire section in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth is sarcastic. He implied that he had to talk like a fool since the Corinthians would gladly accept his advice if he did so. (2 Corinthians 11:19) Overheard Quotes | 191 . “Suffer fools gladly” We can’t tell from a single verse. the phrase has assumed an entirely different meaning.  For ye suffer fools gladly. Most frequently it appears in obituar- ies. where it has become a way to talk of the deceased in an honest but diplomatic manner. Paul assumed the role of a “fool” in order to expose their supposed “wisdom” and authority. 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. 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. It implies that someone is prone to being curt with anyone they perceive to be inferior or foolish.

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

Ultimately this is the single most important reason to avoid getting ensnared by a love for money. Business executives let their enormous salaries go to their heads and succumb to the relentless pressure to just make more and more money. however.  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare. (1 Timothy 6:9–10) Overheard Quotes | 193 . which drown men in destruction and perdition. and into many foolish and hurtful lusts. 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. they have erred from the faith. regardless of the personal costs. So Paul’s warnings to Timothy are worth heeding. “The love of money is the root of all evil” This is a truism we see in action everywhere. and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. The love of mon- ey has also led many Chris- tians astray. 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. We should note. causing pastors to stumble and regular church members to fall into all kinds of sin. Professional athletes end up squandering their massive wealth by making foolish decisions.

then are ye my disciples indeed. In fact. “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. having built their lives around this truth. it appears on the wall at the entrance to the CIA. and the truth shall make you free. As with so many phrases we have pulled from the Bible. So He tells them that if they hold on to his teaching. In this passage. however. If ye continue in my word.“The truth shall set you free” This popular phrase is used in everything from movies to television shows. then they will know the truth. the original context points us toward quite a different interpretation. Thus. they believed about Him is unclear. they will then be set free. So what is the truth? It is both Jesus’ teaching and Jesus Himself.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him. we find Jesus conversing with “those Jews which believed on him. specifically. Usually the phrase is quoted in order to encourage people to be truthful. Moreover. The idea is that knowing and telling the truth release people from bondage. 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.” The depth of what. (John 8:31–32) 194 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.  “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. However.The Workers in the Vineyard Matthew 20:1–16 Throughout the world. Prospective employers size people up based on the work they need done and then decide on a salary. 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. Wise workers refuse to compare themselves with others in the kingdom. This is the math of the kingdom of heaven. although barely enough for a family to survive on. The main point seems to be that the landowner has the right to extend mercy and generosity to anyone he chooses.” (Matthew 20:1) 216 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . 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. a small sum that was probably normal for this kind of work. day laborers congregate at street corners and in town squares looking for work.” In the story.

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

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

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

Teaching Parables about P r ay e r  .

The Unjust Judge Luke 18:1–8 As with so many parables. He says. many would also have been able to relate to the plight of this poor woman. Throughout the ancient world. this parable is not quite as straightforward as it seems. 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. Sadly. So what does this teach us about prayer? Jesus is trying to communicate to His followers the amazing love of God.” he said. After all.” (Luke 18:1–2) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 221 . In this story. and Jesus’ listeners would have been appalled at his coldhearted behavior. The comparison is shocking. if even an evil judge will finally relent under the continued requests of a poor widow. They were completely reliant on help from others and often lived on the edge of poverty. widows faced a difficult and dan- gerous existence. “There was a judge in a certain city. stuck in a system that ignored and abused the weak and helpless. “who neither feared God nor cared about people. the judge is deliberately contrasted with the plaintive figure of a widow to emphasize just how bad he is.

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

Teaching Parables about Neighbors  .

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

Teaching Parables about Humility  .

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

The parable itself draws on two very common images of the time. but they had a reputation for stealing money from their own countrymen and charging exorbitant taxes in order to build up their own wealth. One was a Pharisee. 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. and the other was a despised 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.” (Luke 18:9–10) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 227 . For example: “Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else” (Luke 18:9). 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. First. 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. 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. Second.

Teaching Parables about W e a lt h  .

The rich man in the parable is no doubt an exaggeration. 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. for “life is not measured by how much you own” (12:15).” (Luke 12:16) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 229 . and presumably quite often the source of argument among relatives.  Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. The punch-line to the story is a direct word from God: the man is about to die. The sheer volume of all this wealth then leads him to pursue a hedonistic lifestyle. inheritances of any size were extremely important. Jesus responds to the question with a challenge to be on guard against an unhealthy obsession with money. the occasion being a man ask- ing for help in getting his brother to share his inheritance with him. With this short story Jesus reminds His disciples that while money serves a purpose here and now. 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. there is more to life than the accumulation of wealth. However.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do. They were to work hard. Jesus implores them to live their lives accordingly while they wait for His triumphant return. or at daybreak. When he left home. Like the servants in the parable. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. even though Jesus would no longer be right there with them. You.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. 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. too. the disciples were to be diligent in their Master’s work: making disciples and spreading the kingdom. But Jesus knew He had a limited amount of time to drive His point home. and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 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 . 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). before dawn. at midnight. Above all they were to be watchful for Jesus’ imminent return. must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening. This was undoubtedly a confusing time for the disciples.

Parables of Judgment | 241 .

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

Parables of Judgment about God’s Values  .

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

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

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

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

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

“Sweat of your Exodus 4:13. “Joseph.” p. 13 Genesis 6:9–14.” p. 48 Genesis 6:6–9 “A Flood Covers the Exodus 14. 56 Leviticus Genesis 22:12. “Man shall not live by Genesis 21:4–7.” p.” p.” (OT): Favored Son. “God Parts the the Earth. p. Son of Jacob Genesis 3.” p.” p. “My brother’s Exodus 7:1–12:36. 2 Universe.” p. 40 Genesis 25:29–31. “The Bush Doesn’t First People. “Adam and Eve: Exodus 3:1–10. 126 Fiery Chariot. “Solomon Builds Exodus 16:4–21. Scripture Reference Index Genesis Genesis 22:1–19.” p. 192 Genesis 50:18–20.” p.” p. “Bread Falls Babel Is Built. 5 Genesis 12:1–3. “Peter Has a Vision”. 162 Exodus 31:18. “Noah: The Ark Exodus 14:13–31. 44 Red Sea.” p. “He gave up the Schemer.” p. “Abraham: Friend of Leviticus 11. God. 11 Genesis 6:17–19. 56. 3 People.” p. “Abraham: Heaven. “Adam and Eve: First Dream. “Sweat of your brow. “Joseph. 112 p. “Eye for an eye.” p. p. 42 Exodus Genesis 3:8–12. 94 Is Celebrated. “The First Passover Greatest Prophet. 44 p. “Elijah Rides in a Builder”.” p.” p.” p.” p. 124 Promised Son. “Jacob: The Genesis 2:7. “Elijah: Israel’s Exodus 12:1–30.192 Deliverer.” p.85 Burn. First Sin. “God Creates the Sacrifice.” p. “God Gives the Ten Genesis 12:2–3. “A Flood Covers Exodus 14:21–31.” p. “Jesus Has the Last Builder. “Dust of the earth. 164 p.” p. “Golden calf. “Adam and Eve Jacob (OT): Favored Son. 105 ghost. First Sin.” p. 162 Exodus 21:24. 178 Mother.” Commandments. 82 p. 171 Genesis 28:10–17. 5 Friend of God”.” p. “Jacob Has a Genesis 2:18. 103 Exodus 32.” p.” p. “God Sends keeper. Son of Genesis 3:1–19.” p. “Sarah: Unlikely bread alone. 50 p. 73 Genesis 5:34.” p. 181 Plagues on Egypt. 82 Exodus 19–20. “Moses: The Reticent brow.” p. 168 Genesis 22. “The Tower of Exodus 14:29–15:21.” p.” Earth.” p. “Isaac: The Deliverer. 137 Exodus 32:3–4. “Bread Falls from the Temple. 49 Genesis 11:1–9. 124 Genesis 4:8–9. “Solomon Builds the Temple.” p. 4 Genesis 3:17–19.” p.” Genesis 13:16.” p. “An Ax Head Floats. 47 Genesis 5:29. “Noah: The Ark Exodus 12. “Moses: The Reticent Genesis 21:1–3. “Dust of the earth. 126 Supper with His Disciples. 115 Disobey God. 85 Genesis 37:3.” p. “Abraham Takes a Genesis 1–2.” p. 26 Scripture Reference Index | 249 . 46 from Heaven.

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

57 Wall Builder.” p.” 2 Kings 4:18–37. 14 Psalm 8:1–2. “An Ax Head Floats.” p. 142 Ezra 9:5–6. 202 Scripture Reference Index | 251 . “Elijah Defeats Nehemiah 1–6. 184 1 Chronicles 22. “A Dead Man Man. 57 Rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem. 11 Builder. “An Angel Defeats 185. “Nehemiah: The Prophets of Baal. “Put your house in Proverbs 13:24.” p. 14 p.” p.” p. “When there is no the Temple. 58.” p. “Job: The Tested Man.” p. 203 2 Kings 20:1–11. 96 Job 1:1. 1 Kings 6– 8. 190 Proverbs 16:18. 123 1 Kings 19:12. 14 end. “Elijah Defeats the Nehemiah 5:14.” p.” p. “Elijah Rides in a Fiery p. “Pride goes before a 1 Chronicles fall. 107 2 Kings 5:1–14. 142 2 Kings Esther 2 Kings 1:10–14. “Solomon Builds 1 Kings 8:10–11. 13 p.” p. 123 1 Kings 18:27. 14 teeth. “Solomon Builds Proverbs 29:18. 58 1 Kings 18:24. “By the skin of our p. “At my wit’s p.” p. “A Dead Man p. p. 183 Touches a Prophet’s Bones. 185 Somewhere. 59 2 Kings 2:1–12. “Elijah Defeats the Nehemiah 6:15–16. “Out of the mouths of 2 Kings 13:20–21. Right?.” p. 13–14.” p. “Nehemiah Rebuilds the Prophets of Baal. “Esther: Fiery Chariot.” p. “Elisha: The Job Man of God. 107 2 Kings 6:18. 10 Nehemiah 1 Kings 18:20–21. “Job: The Tested Man.” Job 1:3.” 1 Kings 18:38. 56 vision.” p. 98 2 Kings 2:9–10.” Job 42:10.” p. “A Dead Man babes.” p. 16 away wrath.” p.” p. 11 Courageous Queen. “Solomon: Wise Ezra and Foolish King.” p. the people perish. 100 Keep Coming.” p. 57 the Walls of Jerusalem.” p. 156 2 Kings 19. 15 Proverbs 2 Kings 20:1. 12.” p. 11 Haman. “Oil and Flour Troubled Times. 107 Touches a Prophet’s Bones.” p. “The Sun Moves Proverbs 15:1. “Nehemiah: The Wall Chariot. 107 Touches a Prophet’s Bones. “Solomon Builds the 2 Chronicles Temple. “Ezra: God’s Man in 1 Kings 17:13–14.” Job 19:20.” p.” p. “Naaman Is Job 1:20–22.” p.” p. 11 and Foolish King. “A Dead Man Touches Psalms a Prophet’s Bones. “Nehemiah Prophets of Baal.” p. “Esther Defeats Fiery Chariot. 158 2 Kings 6:1–7. “Job: The Tested Man.000. 56 the Temple.” p. 56 2 Chronicles 3–6.” p. “Elijah Rides in a Esther 4:13–17. “It’s in There order. 56 1 Kings 10:14–29.” Psalm 107:23–27. “Solomon Builds the Temple. “Solomon: Wise Chariot.” p.” p. “Elijah Rides in a Esther 4–7. “A soft answer turns Backward.” p.” p. “Elijah Rides in a Fiery Nehemiah 13:26. “Job: The Tested Healed”.

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

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

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

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

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

Jonathan and his wife. he resides with his wife. Florida. They have four children. About the Writers Kent Keller. including The Apologetics Study Bible (B & H). DMin Kent Keller. A graduate of the University of Montevallo (Alabama). He has an MA from the University of Chicago and an MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield. Louis. DMin. have four young daughters. He has written for and been published in numerous popular and scholarly works. Illinois). Jonathan Ziman Jonathan Ziman is a community life pastor at Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton. and Covenant Theological Seminary (St. Kari. Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando). He wrote The Life of Jesus (Baker) and has contributed to many other publications. 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 . Missouri). in Miami. Heidi. including the Student’s Life Application Bible (Tyndale House) and 500 Questions & Answers from the Bible (Barbour). Illinois. is the senior pastor of Kendall Presbyterian Church in Miami.

For inquisitive readers of any age—adults and students alike— here’s a book to shed light on the Bible’s great questions. 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.99 Available wherever Christian books are sold. Arranged in canonical order. accessible format—and it’s fully illustrated in color! ISBN 978-1-59789-473-9 Trade paperback • 256 pages • $9.  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. Its open design presents a wealth of information in an appealing. based on sound Christian doctrine.

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