April 9, 2019

Why a Story?

By: Larry Shaffer

This is a scene from the Pacific Coast Highway in California!

Why a Story? 

I’ve been reflecting lately about the purpose of narratives within the scope of God’s revelation to us, the Bible. The Bible could’ve been written in commands and directives only. After all, at the end of the day, what really matters is that we act correctly. We are to receive Christ and obey Him. Pretty simple, huh? Just do this and don’t do that. The repetition of line-upon-line; precept-upon-precept, here a little and there a little; is a simple formula of learning.  We should simply obey.

Here’s another related thought…everyone has a different love language, (so I’m told by my lovely bride) and everyone has a different learning preference. God is so good and kind, that He has given us a revelation of Himself and His Word, in a kaleidoscope of color, shape and texture.  

Have you ever met an artist? I mean, a real artist? I have a very dear friend who is an artist. To me, they’re a strange lot. His attention to the detail of color, contrast and other crazy artistic nuances is amazing to me. I’m a bottom-line kind of guy. We have nothing in common except our love for the Lord. I learn so much from him. He sees the world differently than me. He hangs out with non-Christian artists and he is able to touch them and reach them. They wouldn’t trust me for a second. 

Our God is a poetic artist who expresses His emotions in rich facets and colorful shades of distinction and variation. He paints pictures within His narratives (such as the story of Joseph) with an eye toward tremendous detail of color, contrast, irony, fear, humor, nuance and purpose. He’s an amazing artistic writer. And because He’s God, His stories are packed with meaning and correlate perfectly with all the other forms of His writing such as poetry, prophecy, dictates and law, love letters and epistles. His narratives always correlate with scriptures of different genres that perfectly support each other. What a wonder His Word is? 

As an example, have you ever thought about the following? 

  •  The fact that the shepherd boy, David, picked up five smooth stones but only needed one of them to defeat Israel’s enemy, Goliath? David was skilled and precise with his sling and with a single stone, penetrated, with God’s providence, the exact point of Goliath’s weakness. 
  • Jesus was in the wilderness and when He was tempted, He picked up the five books of Moses to battle the enemy Satan, but he only used one of five books? Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers are the five books of Moses. When Jesus was tempted he only used one of them. Three times Satan tempted Jesus and every time, Jesus responded with “It is written” Every time Jesus responded by using one of the books of Moses whereby He quoted from the one book, Deuteronomy, all three times. Jesus needed only one of the stones. He was precise with His use of scripture so as to address the specific weakness of Satan’s temptation. 
  • Later, Paul taught on the usage of the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, in our spiritual battle with Satan. The Greek ‘word’ for Sword is not the big sword we think of in ancient battles. It is a dagger. And the word used for the “word” of God is not the full scope of God’s Word, but it is a specific phrase. So, just like David in his battle with Goliath and just as Jesus in his temptation from Satan, we are taught by Paul to be skilled with our dagger weapon and be precise in our battle against Satan’s particular temptations toward us. We are not to just throw the whole Bible at Satan. Instead, we are taught to use specific and precise scriptures (like the use of a dagger to penetrate a vital organ) to counter the temptations of Satan. 

So…..God gave us an Old Testament narrative to paint an artistic story, then an example from the life of Jesus and also, a teaching lesson from the apostle Paul that correlate perfectly together to enlighten, delight and instruct in the theme of our spiritual battle with Satan. That’s just cool! What a gift that God has given us in the depth and expanse of His Word? 

This is a bit of a detour from the narrative of Joseph, but it sheds light on how we should read Old Testament narratives with an eye toward other parts of the Bible that reinforce the principles accordingly. 

Father, we are blessed that You gave us a book of wonder, filled with stories, poems, instruction and prophecy to touch us, lead us and give us hope. Help us, by Your guidance, to explore all its truth in sight, smell, touch and taste. Give us all of Your Word so that we might live; to live in fullness and joy and ultimate victory in all things. Amen!

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How does one find all the correlated Bible passages in the Bible? If you are a serious Bible student, you should have The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge in your library. Link below. 

https://www.amazon.com/Treasury-Scripture-Knowledge-R-Torrey/dp/0917006224/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1PZ3VLMTZWFDC&keywords=the+treasury+of+scripture+knowledge&qid=1554641861&s=books&sprefix=the+treasury+of+scri%2Caps%2C169&sr=1-1