Bible Study

7 women to 1 man …

Last week, social media in Ghana exploded as some comments made by Archbishop Duncan Williams during one of his church services was made public (http://news.peacefmonline.com/pages/social/201410/220493.php). This video gives a better (not the best though) context to his remarks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw3yRCu2_zk.

I will write a much fuller article on my views on the entire event but what is really bothering me is the now perceived notion that the Bible says that in these our times the ratio of women to men is 7:1. This Biblical reference given was:

In that day seven women
will take hold of one man
and say, “We will eat our own food
and provide our own clothes;
only let us be called by your name.
Take away our disgrace! – Isaiah 4:1

This is the fuller prophecy which actually begins from chapter 2 of Isaiah.

The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 

and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 

He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. 

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD. 

For you have rejected your people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners. 

Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots. 

Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made. 

So man is humbled, and each one is brought low— do not forgive them! 

Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty. 

The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 

For the LORD of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low; 

against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; 

against all the lofty mountains, and against all the uplifted hills; 

against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; 

against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. 

And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. 

And the idols shall utterly pass away. 

And people shall enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth.  In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats,  to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the LORD, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. 

Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he? 

For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply, all support of bread, and all support of water;  the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder,  the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms. 

And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. 

And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable. 

For a man will take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule”; 

in that day he will speak out, saying: “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people.” 

For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence. 

For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. 

Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds. 

Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him. 

My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths. 

The LORD has taken his place to contend; he stands to judge peoples. 

The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: “It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. 

What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” declares the Lord GOD of hosts. 

The LORD said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet, 

therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will lay bare their secret parts. 

In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 

the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 

the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 

the signet rings and nose rings; 

the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 

the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils. 

Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty. 

Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle. 

And her gates shall lament and mourn; empty, she shall sit on the ground. 

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.” 

In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. 

And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 

when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. 

Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. 

There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.  –  Isaiah 2:1 – 4:6

So really… does the Bible say that the ratio of women to men in 2014 is 7:1? “A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text”

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Seeing the Bible as a whole

The Bible is made up of 66 books and connecting those books together and seeing how the tell one story is an extremely helpful tool when it comes to studying the Bible.   Justin Tayler provides Graeme Goldsworthy’s summaries on the main divisions in the Bible here.  

Too many times, we think of the gospel as a story that jumps from the Garden of Eden (we’ve all sinned) right to the cross (but Jesus fixes everything). On its own, that works fine in communicating the systematic points of our need for salvation and God’s provision in Christ, but from a biblical theological perspective, it doesn’t do justice to what’s actually in the text. Once a person becomes a Christian and cracks the Bible, they’re going to wonder what the big deal is about Israel and the covenant, since that storyline takes up roughly 75% of the Bible. Getting people into that story is important. As D.A. Carson says, the announcement is incoherent without it.

 

Every story has a main character. The Bible does too. It’s God. Specifically, it’s God as He reveals Himself to us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Here’s what happens if we learn individual Bible stories and never connect them to the big Story. We put ourselves in the scene as if we are the main character. We take the moral examples of the Old and New Testament as if they were there to help us along in the life we’ve chosen for ourselves.

But the more we read the Bible, the more we see that God is the main character, not us. We are not the heroes learning to overcome all obstacles, persist in our faith, and call down fire from heaven. We’re the ones who need rescue, who need a Savior who will deliver us from Satan, sin, and death. It’s only in bowing before the real Hero of the story that we are in the right posture to take our place in the unfolding drama. Bearing in mind the big story of Scripture helps us keep our focus on Jesus, and off ourselves.

Quotes from http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2013/11/05/4-reasons-to-teach-the-bibles-storyline/

 

 

The Bible’s Big Picture

The opening chapters of the Bible clearly teach that, as Creator, God is the owner of all things (Ps. 89:11). All wealth therefore belongs to him (Ps. 50:10) and is to be used to rule the earth and bring glory to him through the worship of his Son and service to his people.

As the owner of all, God desires that we, his creatures and rulers on earth, desire relationship with him, rather than fixating on the things he created to serve us (Matt. 6:31-33). However, mankind has consistently worshipped created things rather than the Creator, and used material things for selfish purposes.

This has the been the norm throughout history, so it came as a huge surprise when God acted graciously towards Abram, promising him and the generations that followed a magnificent kingdom which he would bless materially, so that they could do what God intended for Adam: to rule over creation for the purpose of worshipping God and serving others, as well as being a light to the nations (Gen. 12:1-315:1-18). The nations were meant to look at Israel and see them as a wise and blessed people, and then turn to their God for inclusion amongst his people (Deut. 4:1-8).

To prepare them to be this light, and to prepare them for life in the Promised Land, God gave his people the Law (Ex. 19-20), after which he promised that those who submitted to his rule would receive material blessing, while those who rejected his rule would face his curse, often described in terms of material poverty (Deut. 28:1-68).

However, despite that warning, the prophets were still required to preach words of warning to those who chose to pursue their own wealth rather than being rich towards God (e.g., Isa. 5:8-10). Even after they suffered the punishment of exile for refusing complete allegiance to God, the people of God continued to choose their own comfort and pleasure over the glory of God (Hag. 1:4).

Throughout the Old Testament period the wisdom writers taught God’s people that there was no wisdom in choosing anything over the Creator. Wisdom, based on the character of God, dictated that generosity would have positive outcomes in the giver’s life, while self-centeredness would result in futility.

Only one man heeded the warning and had the wisdom to obey God’s call to obedient submission. Jesus, despite Satan’s temptations, lived in perfect obedience to the law of God (Matt. 4:1-11). As a result, he exercised perfect dominion over all creation as seen in his calming of storms (Matt. 8:23-27), healing of the sick (Matt. 8:14-17) and even by having dominion over death (Matt. 28:1-20).

Jesus’ call to people was, and is, that we act wisely and obediently and submit to God’s plan for our lives: repenting of sin and exercising faith in Jesus, God’s revealed King. His death on the cross offers the forgiveness that self-centered humanity so desperately needs and his resurrection assures eternal life with him.

The New Testament writers echoed Jesus’ teaching, who, by his perfect obedience had become Israel’s wise man and prophet. They warned of the love of money and urged God’s people to pursue contentment and generosity for the sake of the growth of God’s kingdom (1 Tim. 6:6-1017-19). Through their teaching, we know that those who gather around Jesus (the church) are promised God’s daily care and provision (Phil. 4:19). But this promise of material provision and even blessing is not assured in the same way as it was with Israel, who revealed that material possessions were not an indication of their faithfulness or obedience. In fact, Jesus taught that he may lovingly call the church to suffer for his glory as a witness to a self-obsessed world, by displaying its desire to treasure him above all else (Matt. 5:3-12). For any believer, this suffering will be a joy, for he knows that Christ is his treasure, and that nothing can ever separate him from Christ (Rom. 8:35-39).

For the believer, eternity is the enjoyment of Christ his treasure, which even surpasses God’s promise of great abundance and blessing being poured out on his people forever. …..

-Except from Prosperity Gospel and Biblical Theology

See also this video on the Big Picture of the Bible… Entrust: Bible Overview

Helpful resources for studying the Bible

I have been seeing quite a few helpful articles around that speaks on how we study the Bible.

Thats all for now 🙂

Helpful questions for studying the Bible

Found this very useful guide for Bible Reading and study.

Our desire was to create a simple, reproducible strategy that would facilitate this process. This led us to develop a simply strategy for small clusters (2-3 people) to meet together regularly and talk about the Scriptures and apply them to their lives.

The seven arrows of Bible reading were an attempt at developing a tool for proper hermeneutics to power these relationships. We did not want our people to simply talk about the Bible. We wanted them to understand the Bible and know how to apply it to their lives. Each cluster would read a predetermined passage of Scripture and discuss it using these seven arrows.

It is seven very helpful questions to ask and dwell on when studying a passage of scripture.

  1. What does this passage say?
  2. What does this passage mean to its original audience?
  3. What does this passage tell us about God?
  4. What does this passage tell us about man?
  5. What does this passage demand of me?
  6. How does this passage change the way I relate with people?
  7. How does this passage prompt me to pray?

I especially like how it not only ask questions that dwell on the original intent and purpose of the passage but also questions that aid in applying the passage to  one’s life.

Read more details here… 7 Arrows for Bible Reading.