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

Bible
Find It

Illustrated Bible Handbook Series

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

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Writers
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Interior Design
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Printed in China.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing Occurrences | 11

Naaman
Is Healed
2 Kings 5:1–14

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

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

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

An Ax Head Floats
2 Kings 6:1–7

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

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

Amazing Occurrences | 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing Occurrences | 17 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing Occurrences | 27 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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). Noth- ing less than the spectacular would be good enough. Despite the great growth and accomplishments of his people. 120.000 sheep and goats were sacrificed. beginning with Abraham (Genesis 12:1–3). The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud. for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. 5:1–5). But the most amazing sight of all was when the glory of God de- scended upon the temple. Since David had already collected offerings from the people and work- ers to build the temple (1 Chronicles 22). the Most Holy Place. 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. At the temple dedication. a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. God had called the nation of Israel to be his covenant people. which had been used for centuries. God himself was going to inhabit the Most Holy Place in the inner sanctuary. Solomon executed the plan beginning in about 966 bc over a seven-year period. But God told David that David’s son Solomon would be the one to build it. Many of the temple furnishings were made of gold. 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. 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. (1 Kings 8:10–11) 56 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Like the tabernacle. along with 22. and 30 feet wide and built from cedar trees of Tyre. Stones used to build the temple had to be chiseled off site by killed work- ers.Solomon Builds the Temple 1 Kings 6–8. 45 feet high. It was 90 feet long. the most magnificent building anyone had ever seen was Israel’s first temple. continuing through Moses.000 cattle. the temple was to have three sections: the Holy Place. and an outer courtyard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jonah took the first boat going in the opposite direction—to Tarshish. or at least his willingness to obey. But we’re told that a fish big enough to swallow Jonah whole appeared on the scene. Jonah’s book shows the Lord to be merciful and compassionate. and preach there.000 and that’s how Jonah felt when God told him to go to Nineveh. Instead of heading to Nineveh. 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. When his message led to mass conversion and revival. After the sailors threw him into the sea at his request. For Jonah to go to tell them they needed to turn from their sins and to God was beyond his comprehension. 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. The Assyrians were a brutal people and enemies of Israel. Now. Yet. When a sudden squall threatened the safety of the ship and the sailors cast lots to see who was responsible for it. and resurrection (Matthew 12:39–40). But he couldn’t outrun God or God’s commission.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. burial. the capital city of Assyria. the As- syrians destroyed Samaria. even after his ordeal in the belly of the fish. The Bible does not say that the fish sent to swallow Jonah was a whale. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are. the storm ended. but he was hoping that it would fall on deaf ears. Jonah knew that he had been cornered. Jonah was highly distraught over it. the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Jonah remained in the fish for three days and nights. In 722 bc. How do you feel about it? Multiply that by about 120. Jonah was a reluctant servant. He preached the message of repentance as God had commanded. (Jonah 1:1–3 nlt) Big Events | 65 .  The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. you’ll see how God worked through imperfect people to bring about His perfect plan: to end the curse of sin. The Bible is a collection of stories about ordinary people who served an extraordinary God.  . Of all the people who can be found in the pages of the Bible. As you read the stories.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David. but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. “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 . And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people. 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. O Lord my God. “Now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overheard Quotes T here are many quotes from the King James Version of the Bible in use every day. Over the centuries they have become part of our lexicon. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

” The point here is that Job has escaped death.  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. even though his “friends” are accusing him of having committed some kind of secret sin instead of comforting or helping him. The resulting English idiom has lost this overarching context and come to refer simply to any kind of narrow escape. the translators simply made a direct word-for-word translation: “with the skin of my teeth. 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. and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. Throughout this passage Job cries out for justice.“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.

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

(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. The context for this word picture is one of Jesus’ most well-known sermons: the Sermon on the Mount. neither cast ye your pearls before swine. Pearls continue to symbolize beauty and perfection. 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.  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs. 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. It is an exhortation to prudence and caution. lest they trample them under their feet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overheard Quotes | 179 .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

where it has become a way to talk of the deceased in an honest but diplomatic manner. “Suffer fools gladly” We can’t tell from a single verse. but the tone of this entire section in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth is sarcastic. Paul rebuked the believers for their failure to stand firm in the Gospel that he preached to them. 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.  For ye suffer fools gladly. the phrase has assumed an entirely different meaning. Most frequently it appears in obituar- ies. 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. 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 . It implies that someone is prone to being curt with anyone they perceive to be inferior or foolish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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
13:18–19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 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.The Workers in the Vineyard Matthew 20:1–16 Throughout the world. However. Prospective employers size people up based on the work they need done and then decide on a salary. This is the math of the kingdom of heaven. Equal pay for equal work seems like a reasonable assumption to make when taking on a new job.” In the story. 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. The main point seems to be that the landowner has the right to extend mercy and generosity to anyone he chooses. although barely enough for a family to survive on.” (Matthew 20:1) 216 | B i b l e Fi n d I t . Wise workers refuse to compare themselves with others in the kingdom.  “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard.

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

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

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

Teaching Parables about P r ay e r  .

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

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

Teaching Parables about Neighbors  .

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

Teaching Parables about Humility  .

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

but they had a reputation for stealing money from their own countrymen and charging exorbitant taxes in order to build up their own wealth.  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. One was a Pharisee. Second. 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. the tax collectors were the lowest of the low. For example: “Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else” (Luke 18:9).” (Luke 18:9–10) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 227 . The parable itself draws on two very common images of the time. 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. Not only were they willing employees of the Roman occupying forces. and the other was a despised tax collector. First. 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.

Teaching Parables about W e a lt h  .

With this short story Jesus reminds His disciples that while money serves a purpose here and now. the occasion being a man ask- ing for help in getting his brother to share his inheritance with him. and presumably quite often the source of argument among relatives. The Rich Fool Luke 12:16–21 The context sets the tone for this parable. This general principle is then expanded upon with the short parable of the rich man’s abundant crops.  Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.” (Luke 12:16) Te a c h i n g P a r a b l e s | 229 . The sheer volume of all this wealth then leads him to pursue a hedonistic lifestyle. for “life is not measured by how much you own” (12:15). The rich man in the parable is no doubt an exaggeration. 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. Jesus responds to the question with a challenge to be on guard against an unhealthy obsession with money. there is more to life than the accumulation of wealth. However. The punch-line to the story is a direct word from God: the man is about to die. inheritances of any size were extremely important.

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)

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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

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

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

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

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

he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do. before dawn. even though Jesus would no longer be right there with them. or at daybreak. Jesus implores them to live their lives accordingly while they wait for His triumphant return. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. too. They were to work hard. But Jesus knew He had a limited amount of time to drive His point home. Having explained to them that one day they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds with great power and glory” (13:26). Like the servants in the parable.  “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening. 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. 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 . This was undoubtedly a confusing time for the disciples. and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return.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. Above all they were to be watchful for Jesus’ imminent return. You. When he left home. the disciples were to be diligent in their Master’s work: making disciples and spreading the kingdom. at midnight.

Parables of Judgment | 241 .

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

Parables of Judgment about God’s Values  .

On the one hand. Jesus mentions a ridiculously enormous amount of money. The parable was meant to help Peter understand the concept of forgiveness. Peter may have been thinking seven was a good number to guess. reached out to us through the death of His Son. Jesus. Because we have experienced this forgiveness.The Unforgiving Debtor Matthew 18:23–35 Forgiveness is a key theme in the Bible. Yet God. in His mercy. The number is intentionally as large as possible. The separation between man and God is so vast it cannot hope to be crossed. probably alluding back to the equally surprising number of times Jesus had suggested for offering forgiveness. 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. we will not be forgiven. In the parable. How could that be possible? Enter the parable of the unforgiving debtor. but Jesus countered by suggesting “seventy times seven” instead. we have been forgiven a debt that none of us could ever hope to pay. 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 . and this particular parable fleshes it out. If we fail to forgive.  “Therefore. one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. In asking about forgiveness. In the process.

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

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

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

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

124 Promised Son. “The Bush Doesn’t First People. 44 Red Sea. Son of Genesis 3:1–19. “Solomon Builds Exodus 16:4–21. “Sweat of your Exodus 4:13.” p. 105 ghost. “Golden calf. Scripture Reference Index Genesis Genesis 22:1–19.” p. 82 Exodus 19–20.” p.” p.” Genesis 13:16. “The Tower of Exodus 14:29–15:21. “Isaac: The Deliverer.” p. “My brother’s Exodus 7:1–12:36. “Noah: The Ark Exodus 12. 44 p. “Joseph. 46 from Heaven. “Adam and Eve: Exodus 3:1–10.” Earth. 13 Genesis 6:9–14. 168 Genesis 22. p.” p.” p. “A Flood Covers Exodus 14:21–31.” p.” Commandments.” p.” p.” p. 115 Disobey God. “Solomon Builds the Temple. First Sin.” p. 126 Supper with His Disciples. “The First Passover Greatest Prophet. 181 Plagues on Egypt.” p.” p. “Noah: The Ark Exodus 14:13–31. “Abraham Takes a Genesis 1–2.192 Deliverer. p. 47 Genesis 5:29. 85 Genesis 37:3. “Elijah: Israel’s Exodus 12:1–30.” p.” p. “Elijah Rides in a Builder”. “Joseph. 49 Genesis 11:1–9.” p. 2 Universe. “Peter Has a Vision”. “Abraham: Heaven. 112 p.” p.” p. 126 Fiery Chariot. 56 Leviticus Genesis 22:12. 5 Friend of God”. 4 Genesis 3:17–19. “Sweat of your brow. “Adam and Eve Jacob (OT): Favored Son. “An Ax Head Floats.” p. “God Creates the Sacrifice.85 Burn. 56. “He gave up the Schemer. 94 Is Celebrated.” p.” p. “Bread Falls Babel Is Built. “Jacob: The Genesis 2:7.” p. Son of Jacob Genesis 3.” p.” p.” (OT): Favored Son.” p. “Eye for an eye. 124 Genesis 4:8–9. “Man shall not live by Genesis 21:4–7. “Jesus Has the Last Builder. 82 p. “God Parts the the Earth. “Sarah: Unlikely bread alone.” p. “Bread Falls from the Temple. “Jacob Has a Genesis 2:18. 103 Exodus 32.” p.” p. 42 Exodus Genesis 3:8–12. “Adam and Eve: First Dream. “Dust of the earth. 137 Exodus 32:3–4.” p. 164 p. 192 Genesis 50:18–20. 26 Scripture Reference Index | 249 .” p. 162 Exodus 31:18. God. First Sin.” p. 40 Genesis 25:29–31.” p. “God Gives the Ten Genesis 12:2–3.” p. 3 People. 73 Genesis 5:34. 50 p. 171 Genesis 28:10–17. “Moses: The Reticent brow. “God Sends keeper. 162 Exodus 21:24.” p. 178 Mother. “Abraham: Friend of Leviticus 11.” p. 48 Genesis 6:6–9 “A Flood Covers the Exodus 14. 11 Genesis 6:17–19. 5 Genesis 12:1–3. “Moses: The Reticent Genesis 21:1–3. “Dust of the earth.

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

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

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

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

“Jesus Feeds 5.” Luke 16:1–9. “The Unproductive Luke 1:20. 169 Mark 14:33. “Mary Magdalene: p. 234 Luke 7:11–15. “Wars and rumors of Luke 8:5–8.” p. “John the Baptist p. 93 p.” p. 218 254 | B i b l e Fi n d I t .” p. 229 Luke 1:16.” p. “Simeon and Luke 14:16–24.” p. “The Lost Sheep. 70 p. 157 p.” p. “The Friend at Luke 1:1–4. p. “The Wedding Luke 1:39–45. “John: The Disciple Luke 10:38–42.” p.” p.” Sensible Servant.” Mark 14:50–52. “Mary: The One Who p. 139 p.” p. “The Friend at Midnight.” p. 121 Mark 13:7. “A house divided. 237 p. “Jesus Is Born. 226 Mom. Mark 12:1–12.” p. 209 p.” Luke 2:1–20.” Anna: Faithful Believers. “The Lost Coin. 38. “Mary and Martha: Jesus Loved.” Luke 8:2. “The Lost Son.” p.” Faithful Believers.” p.” Luke 12:15. 22 Luke 11:5–8. “The Great Feast.” p. 210 Luke 1:27.” Debts. 229 Luke 1:6.” blind. 248 Luke 13:18–19. 70 Luke 13:6–9. 240 p. 226 Said Yes to God. 153 Preaches in the Wilderness. “False prophets. 165 Transfigured.” Seed.” Luke 1:5–20. “The Traveling Luke 10:33–36. “The Faithful and Preaches in the Wilderness.” Luke 15:11–32.” p. 120 Naked. “Luke: The Missionary Midnight. 239 p. 246 Resurrection Eye-Witness. “Simeon and Anna: Luke 15:3–7. “The Servant’s Role. “Jesus Is clothing. “Elizabeth: Joyful Mom. 222 Luke Luke 11:13. 224 Mark 13:34–37. “The Traveling Home Luke 10:30–37. 119 Luke 14:7–11. 207 wars. 233 Luke 6:39.” p. 240 Samaritan. 13 p.” Luke 1:28–34. 222 Doctor. 230 Luke 2:33.000. “The Great Feast.” p. 66 p.” Mark 13:22. 139 p. “The Rich Fool. “John the Baptist Tree. “The Wedding Feast. “Jesus Is Born. “The blind leading the Luke 15:8–10. 116 Luke 11:17. “An Ax Head Floats. “The Good Owner. 235 Luke 7:37. “The Soils. 230 Luke 2:25–28. 23 which come to you in sheep’s Luke 9:28–36.” p. “The Shrewd p. “John the Baptist Luke 12:42–48. 70 Luke 13:20–21. “The Forgiven Debts. p. 199 Luke 9:10–17. 93 Luke 14:15. “Good Samaritan.” p.” Home Owner. and Friends of Jesus.” p.” p. 24 Mark 13:26.” p. “The Forgiven Luke 17:7–10.” p. p. “The Rich Fool.” Luke 12:16–21.” p.” p. 231 Luke 7:41–43. “The Evil Farmers. “Mark Runs Away p.” p. 237 Manager. 108 Sisters. “Elizabeth: Joyful Feast. “The Mustard Preaches in the Wilderness. 66 Luke 14:1.” p.” p. “The Yeast”.

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

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

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

based on sound Christian doctrine. 500 Questions & Answers from the Bible is an excellent resource for regular Bible study. 258 | B i b l e Fi n d I t  . accessible format—and it’s fully illustrated in color! ISBN 978-1-59789-473-9 Trade paperback • 256 pages • $9. Arranged in canonical order.For inquisitive readers of any age—adults and students alike— here’s a book to shed light on the Bible’s great questions.99 Available wherever Christian books are sold.  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.

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