Saturday, October 5, 2013

Living Lesons from Dead Kings - Lesson 05 - “Asa’s Ups and Downs” - 2 Chronicles 14-16

Lesson 05 – Asa’s Ups and Downs
When you “assign” this lesson the week before, remind the men that this is a longer section of narrative and that there is a small memorization assignment.
There is a dating issue in 2 Chronicles 16.1.  I have a few comments on it on my blog.
2. This questioned is designed to get the men thinking about the big picture of these narrative passages we are studying.  Listing the characters also helps us notice some of the details of the story.  The are ones I found are: Asa, Zerah #6, Azariah #8, Oded, Maachah, Ashtoreth (This FaceBook page reminds us that some these ancient religions are not as irrelevant as we might hope), Baasha, Ben-Hadad, Hanani #2. 
Sometimes it is interesting to note the irony or relationship between the meaning of a name and the part that character plays in the narrative (i.e. Asa meaning “healer” compared with 2 Chr. 16.12)
3. The Hebrew word for seek, darash, has a range of meanings.  Rather than just go to a word study tool, this question encourages the men to use the context of this passage to establish the shade of meaning that fits here.
4. This is a good question to launch a discussion of how we handle ungodly relatives (and their influence on our kids).
3. This is a chance to highlight and encourage a substantive and encouraging ministry we can have edifying each other.  I have included a comparison to Hanani’s message in chapter 16 to 1) further highlight the prophetic ministry and 2) give an example of a positive rebuke.
This lesson has the second part of the summary of How to read the Bible for All its Worth chapter on interpreting narration.  As a leader, you will want to take note of the eight ways we tend to misinterpret narrative passages.

Lesson 05 - “Asa’s Ups and Downs” - 2 Chronicles 14-16
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context: Asa’s life is recorded in both 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  This lesson will primarily focus on the 2 Chronicles 14-16 account.  2 Chronicles 14:1-6 should probably be viewed as a summary of his rule with the specific events following.
1.    ID/CR:  (14:2-7; 15.8-18)  What did Asa do that was good (1 Kings 15:8-24)? 
2.    ID: (chapters 14-16)  Who are the main characters in these chapters?  What is/are the main climax(es) in this account of Asa’s life?
3.    ID/WS:  (2 Chr. 14:4; 15:9-15)  Asa commanded Judah to "seek the LORD God..."  Use and focus on how the events in this context shed light what it means to "seek the LORD" (15:2, 4, 12, 13; 16:12).  ( I.e. In 15:2 Azariah said, "If you seek the LORD" and contrasted it with, "forsake Him”.).  Can you really command someone to seek the LORD (14:4)?
4.    ID:  (15:12-16)  What problems did Asa have with family?  How did he handle it?  What difficulties did he probably have doing that?
5.    ID: (CR:  (16:9)  Memorize and meditate on 16:9a.  What Hebrew word is used for “loyal”?  How should this perspective of God affect our thinking and conduct?
6.    ID: (16:7-12)  What shortcoming(s) characterized the later part of Asa’s life?  What do you think might have contributed to this spiritual decline at the end of his life?  How do you square 15:17 with verse 16:7-10 and 17a-18:12?    Are there lessons for us today?
The WALK: What should I do?
1.    What applications can be made from 2 Chronicles 14:2-4 for us today?
2.    The lack of what three things in 2 Chronicles 15:3 contributed to Israel turning from the LORD?  Do they have NT equivalents?
3.    What was the effect of Azariah's ministry to Asa (2 Chron. 15:2-8)?  Has anybody had that affect on you?  How does this compare to Hanani’s exhortation in 16:7-9)
4.    Is there a church growth principle in 2 Chronicles 15:9?
5.    What caution is there for us in 16:12?  What does it mean to seek physicians instead of God?
Going Beyond:  Extra – I Kings 15:11-15 give highlights of Asa’s life.  Of all the events in his life, which ones were highlighted in I Kings?  Is there any special significance to this choice?
Going Beyond:  Who were the kings of Israel during Asa's reign? (1Kings 15.9-16.30) 

“THE OLD TESTAMENT NARRATIVES: THEIR PROPER USE” is a chapter in How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.  The book is an exceptional resource for learning how to read and interpret the Bible.  This blog article by Rob Berreth provides a helpful summary of the chapter on Old Testament narratives
Part 2
Principles for Interpreting Narratives:
The following ten principles should help you avoid obvious errors in interpreting whenever you seek to exegete these and other stories.
1.    An Old Testament narrative usually does not directly teach a doctrine.
2.    An Old Testament narrative usually illustrates a doctrine or doctrines taught propositionally elsewhere.
3.    Narratives record what happened—not necessarily what should have happened or what ought to happen every time. Therefore, not every narrative has an individual identifiable moral of the story.
4.    What people do in narratives is not necessarily a good example for us. In fact it is usually the opposite.
5.    Most of the characters in the Old Testament are far from perfect and their actions are too.
6.    We are not always told at the end of a narrative whether what happened was good or bad. We should be able to judge this from what God has taught us elsewhere categorically in the Scriptures.
7.    All narratives are incomplete. Not all the relevant details are always given. What appears is what inspired the author to think important to let us know.
8.    Narratives are not written to answer all of our theological questions. They have particular, specific issues in which they deal with, leaving others to be dealt with elsewhere and in other ways.
9.    Narratives may teach explicitly (by clearly stating something) or implicitly (by clearly implying something without actually saying it).
10.    In the final analysis, God is always the hero of all biblical narratives, and all narratives ultimately find their full purpose and meaning in Jesus.
Some Final Cautions:
Why is it that people often find things in narratives that isn’t really there? First, it is because they are desperate for information that will help them, that will be of personal value that will apply to their own situation. Second, they are impatient; they want their answers now, from this book, from this chapter. Third, they wrongly expect that everything in the Bible directly is instruction for their own individual lives. Here is a list of eight of the most common errors people make when interpreting the bible. These all apply to narratives but are not limited to them.
1.    Allegorizing. Trying to think of meanings beyond the clear intended message.
2.    Decontextualizing. Ignoring the full historical and literary contexts, and often the individual narrative, people concentrate on small units only and thus miss interpretational clues.
3.    Selectivity. Involves picking and choosing specific words and phrases to concentrate on, ignoring the others, and ignoring the overall sweep of the passage being studied.
4.    False Combination. This approach combines elements from here and there in a passage and makes a point out of their combination, even though the elements themselves are not directly connected in the passage itself.
5.    Redefinition. When the plain meaning leaves people cold, they often redefine it to mean something else.
6.    Extracanonical authority. Using external keys to Scripture that claim to unlock the mysteries of truths not otherwise known from Scripture itself.
7.    Moralizing. This assumes that a moral can be drawn from every passage. The fallacy of this approach is that it ignores the fact that the narratives were written to show the progress of God’s history of redemption, not to illustrate principles.
8.    Personalizing. This assumes that every passage applies to you specifically in a way that it may not to others. Do not forget that all parts of the bible are for everyone and ultimately for the Glory of God in displaying Him as the Hero.
No Bible narrative was written specifically about you. You can never assume that God expects you to do exactly the same thing that the Bible characters did, or to have the same things happen to you that happened to them. Narratives are precious to us because they so vividly demonstrate God’s involvement in the world and illustrate his principles and calling. But remember they do not systematically include personal ethics.
(This post is a summary and partial abridgement of Fee and Stuart’s book “How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth.” It is based solely on Fee and Stuart’s work and any help that this content gives should be credited to God’s grace through their effort. In other words, give God glory, thank Fee and Stuart and buy the book.)
You might also appreciate “Interpreting the Narratives Portions of Scripture” by Michael Vlach - This is an outline of principles for interpreting narrative portions of Scripture by a professor at Master’s Seminary.

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