1. Creation

Step One – Creation

Summary

God creates everything, including humans, who rebel against God and destroy God’s perfect creation. God judges them and the relationship between God and humans is broken.  Rather than turn themselves around, humans continue to rebel against God and enter a downward spiral of increasingly abhorrent behaviour. God’s answer is to judge them again by sending a flood to destroy them all however  He chooses Noah, a righteous man, and saves him and his family.

God is heart broken by the devastation of the flood, and vows to never destroy humans again – choosing to start a new plan to bring humans back into relationship with Himself. Humans continue to rebel, and so God mixes up their languages and disperses them all over the earth as  God knows a united human race will continue to be an unstoppable force for evil.

God creates everything in 6 days and on the 7th day rests to enjoy all He has made. At this point the world is perfect, there is no death or sickness and humans have perfect relationship with God. God has provided everything required for a life where there is no crying or mourning or pain. The two humans created (Adam and Eve) live in a place (commonly known as the Garden of Eden) and have rulership over the plants and animals. God walks in the garden and enjoyed a relationship with Adam and Eve.
God has one rule for Adam and Eve, they can eat from any seed bearing plant in the garden but they must not eat from one tree – known as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God’s enemy tempts Eve to eat from the tree telling her that “God knows you will be like Him if you eat from the tree.” Eve eats and so does Adam. They immediately feel shame and hide from God. God removes them from Eden. Sickness, death and meaningless toil enter the world and humans relationship with God is broken. God covers Adam and Eves nakedness with the skin of an animal – the first death but also showing a glimpse of God’s plan to make things right between humans and Himself. Blood being used to remove shame and covering for sin is a major Biblical theme.
Humans continue their downward spiral to the point that the Bible records that, “Every inclination of their heart was towards evil.” However one man (Noah) is found to be   before God. God commands him to build a boat (ark), take on board animals and prepare for a flood.<br />

Noah build the ark, and when the flood comes is saved while the rest of the world dies. After the flood waters recede God vows to never destroy the world by flood again.

Human being still have a single language. They set out to build a tower up to the heavens. God notes that, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” God mixes up human languages and disperses the human race all over the world – breaking us into tribes, countries and nations, separated by language.

12 Steps To Understanding The Bible

One of the keys to understanding the Bible is to see the big picture- which is presented below in 12 steps designed to help you understand the broad sweep of biblical history. Each step has four sub sections, a quick summary of important events, main actors and general physical location.

This work is based upon several works and sources including:

12 Step Biblical Overview

A description of the Bible's big story through history in 12 steps.
NameEventsPeopleSummary
CreationCreation
Fall
Flood
Tower
Adam
Eve
Noah
God creates everything, including humans, who rebel against God and destroy God's perfect creation (Genesis 1 - 11)
PatriarchsAbraham
Isaac
Jacob
Joseph
Abraham
Isaac
Jacob
Joseph
God chooses Abraham to start a family that would make God known to the world (Genesis 12 - 50)
ExodusDeliverance
The Law
Rebellion (Kardesh Barnea)
40 Years Wandering
Moses
Aaron
God chooses Moses to rescue the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt and gives them the law (Exodus)
ConquestJordan
Jericho
Conquest
Dominion
Joshua
Rahab
Joshua leads the Hebrew people into the promised land and conquers it. (Joshua)
JudgesJudgement
Rebellion
Cycles of sin
Ruth
Sampson
Ruth
Deborah
Gideon
Samuel
Samson and others were chosen as judges to govern the people for four hundred rebellious years. (Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel)
KingdomUnited
Divided
Northern
Southern
David
Solomon
Rehoboam
Josiah

A monarchy is started, where David, the greatest king, is followed by mostly unrighteous kings. The kingdom splits and God eventually judges Israel sending her into captivity. (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings)
CaptivityProphets
Prophecies
Exile
Power Change
Daniel
Shadrach
Meshach
Abednego
Daniel gives leadership and encourages faithfulness amongst the exiles for the next 70 years
ReturnDisrepair
Temple
People
Wall
Ezra
Nehemiah
Esther
Ezra leads the people back from exile to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther )
SilenceThe Changing Guard
Political Sect
Religious Sect
Messianic Hope
Pharisees
Sadducee
Maccabeans
Zealots
Pharisees and others entomb the Israelites in legalism for the next four hundred years.
JesusEarly Life
Early Ministry
Later Ministry
Death and Resurrection
Jesus
John
Disciples
Jesus comes in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies of a savior and offers salvation and the true kingdom of God. While some accept Him, most reject Him, and He is crucified. (Matthew, Mark, Luke John)
ChurchCreation
Growth
Persecution
Transition
Peter
Stephen
Peter, shortly after the Ascension of Jesus, is used by God to establish the church, God’s next major plan for man. (Acts)
MissionFirst Journey
Second Journey
Third Journey
Trials and Imprisonment
Paul
Silas
Timothy
God uses Paul and others to take the good news about Jesus to non-Jewish people all over the known world. (Acts)

 

Meditation

Meditation is a word that makes people think about Bhuddist monks sitting chanting or Asian mystics sitting in weird poses for days. Currently the most common meaning for meditation invokes an image of emptying your mind or focusing on a sound or single point, losing yourself in mindlessness, thinking about nothing, emptying yourself.

So what is Christian meditation? Is it Biblical? How can you do it? Does God want us to empty our minds and become one with the universe or does it mean something else?

Let’s start with what the Bible says about meditation.

In the Old Testament the word meditate is found over 18 times in the NIV version of the Bible. The word meditate is translated from a Hebrew word that is also translated as  ; to murmur (in pleasure or anger); by implication, to ponder:—imagine, meditate, mourn, mutter, roar, sore, speak, study, talk, utter. The verses it is found in are shown here: Meditate

In the New Testament the word meditate is not found as often.

In 1 Tim 4:15 we are told to consider / meditate on God’s word so our progress will be evident to all. Timothy is also encourage by
Paul to  continue practicing the things he has learned – to continuously continue in his study of God’s word.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul also wrote, to think about things that are honourable, praiseworthy and virtuous.

So how does Christian meditation and Eastern Meditation compare to each other.

Eastern Christian
Empty your mind FILL your mind with good things
Focus on one word of phrase (mantra) Focus on God / Scripture / Virtuous things
Sitting Still No posture or position required
Lose yourself / deny yourself Grow, mature, strengthen
Special times / places Any time / all the time
Cultivate detachment from the world Become attached to God
Become nothing Become all God created you to be
Inward focus Outward focus

To sum up.

Christian meditation is the practice of thinking about, talking about, studying God’s word and God himself. It involves reading the Bible, thinking about God, God’s people and even the world God has created in order to build a better relationship with God and grow as a Christian to be a better human being.

Christian meditation can be silent but we are encouraged to mutter, speak, sing, think, write and talk as part of our meditations.

Christian meditation can be done anywhere, at any time but we are also encouraged to set aside special time to meditate, as well as casual meditation during the day.

So how do we do Christian meditation?

I’ve listed some techniques here – try a few and see how they go.

 

Visualisation And Imagination

Visualisation is the process of using your mind to flesh out details in a story using facts and knowledge you already have.

Visualisation involves you in thinking about what you have read and figuring out the who, what, why, when and where (5Ws) of a situation.

As you focus on a story and think about the 5Ws then you will gain new insight and understanding. Instead of just reading words, spending time to stop and visualise the story brings life and depth to what you are reading.

Imagination takes visualisation a step further. Where visualisation allows you to see factual information, imaginiation takes those facts and allows you to explore them, bringing your own experiences and knowledge to play. It also allows you to ask ‘what if?’ type questions, explore different out comes, put yourself in the place of people involved in the story.

God gave us imagination. Using it to study His word, to think about what you are reading gives the Holy Spirit an opportunity to lead us into all truth, bringing things alive that God wants us to see and hear.  However it is important to be aware that imagination is just that. It offers insight but is not a Biblical truth. It allows God to talk to you but shouldn’t be used to build a theology on.

Summary:

Visualisation allows you understand the reading, by applying the 5Ws, and so building a better understanding of what happened historically. Visualisation is fact based.

Imagination allows you to explore the reading, it lets God bring insight and understanding specific to you. It deals with the emotions, possibilities and motivations of a story.

How to use the 5W’s

An example of using imagination

A guided visualisation and imagination

How to use the 5W’s

The 5Ws

Who, What, Where, When, Why. Sometimes how is added to this list.

Who:

What:

  • What occurs in the story. The actions taken be people, events that happen.
  • Identifying What happens – and also who did it or caused it – A worksheet

Where:

Where involves the physical location of the story. While this may seem straight forward it can be important to really understand the location and it’s significance (historically, physically, spiritually, politically and culturally) .

For example,  hearing Jesus is in Galilee lets us know he is near his home town, but knowing he is currently in the middle of the lake, on a fishing boat, in the middle of the storm brings a different understanding to the narrative than knowing he is in a friends house having a meal on a sunny day.

Where is the location of the story – A worksheet

What is the location of the story. What country are they in, what part of the country are they in? What are the physical characteristics of the part of the country they are in. what is around them, both in close proximity but also further away that may affect this story.

 

Where Is The Location Of The Story – A Worksheet

Where is the location of the story – A worksheet

Suggested Resources:

  • A Biblical Atlas
  • A Map
  • A Bible with Maps in it
  • Google Earth
  • Photos from the Internet
  • Bible Dictionary
  • Cross Refence Bibles
  • Commentaries

Where involves the physical location of the story. While this may seem straight forward it can be important to really understand the location and it’s significance, historically, physically, spiritually, politically and culturally .

For example,  hearing Jesus is in Galilee lets us know he is near his home town, but knowing he is currently in the middle of the lake, on a fishing boat, in the middle of the storm brings a different understanding to the narrative than knowing he is in a friends house having a meal on a sunny day.

The location of the story isn’t just a matter of the geographic physical location but also its location historically, spiritually, politically and culturally.

Some initial questions to ask:

Physical Location

What is the geographic location of the story?

What country are they in?

What part of the country are they in?

What are the physical characteristics of the part of the country they are in.

Physical terrain such as hills, mountains, rivers, seas, forests etc gut also the state of the terrain. For example, the Israelites crossed the Jordan when it was in full flood, bank to bank rushing water, not in the middle of summer when it was a trickle – changing the size of the miracle God performed

Weather (hot, cold, fine, stormy, rain, windy). Examples – Jesus disciples in the boat were in fear for their lives, which means the storm they were in must have been pretty bad as they were seasoned fishermen. The crowd listening to Jesus braved the sun and exhaustion to see him, prompting the disciples to express concern that Jesus needed to dismiss them otherwise they would struggle to make it home safely.

Flora (plants) – Plants, or the absence of plants can play a large part in a story. Jonah sat in a shadeless desert with no plants waiting for Ninevah to be destroyed, Noah’s access to wood would have affected the story.

Fauna (animals) – For example, Daniel in the lions den wouldn’t be much of a story without the lions, the Garden of Eden without a snake or Noah’s ark without 2 of every animal.

What is around them, both in close proximity but also further away that may affect this story. Examples – Once the Israelites crossed the Jordan and it closed behind them, they were trapped with an impassible river behind them and an entire land full of hostile cities and armies ahead of them. They were trapped with no where to go. If there was a way back it would have made their decision much easier to make.

Are they in  building, a vehicle, outdoors, up a mountain, near a lake?

What is the climate like?

Historically

Often a location has historical significance that brings meaning to the current story, or sometime in the future the area the story is told in will bring significance to this story.

One example – It is suggested that the location where Abraham went to sacrifice his son, was the location Jesus was crucified. If this is true then Abrahams faith in sacrificing his only son was mirrored when God sacrificed His only son. Further more when God stopped Abraham from killing Isaac he provided a ram (sheep) instead – again mirrored by the ‘Lamb of God’ taking our place and dying for us.

Spiritually

The Bible is a spiritual book and many of the storys have a spiritual significance. This is especially true of the Old Testament where the religious significance of many actions had a major effect on the participants in the story. A classic example is the 10 Plagues of Egypt where God systematically challenged every major Egyptian deity and showed He was God alone.

Politically

The politics of who rules whom and the relationships this implies between different states and people effects many Biblical stories.  As an example, Jonah, wouldn’t have run away if the people he was sent to where friends or political allies. He ran away because God had sent him to his nations worst enemies. He would rather disobey God than help them as he knew God was a forgiving God and wanted nothing to do with helping his enemies.

The crucifixion is also a very subtle piece of politics with Jesus being sent from person to person, because the right to crucify / sentence to death belonged to Pilot but the issue was a religious one and Jesus was a subject of Herod.

Culturally.

One of the most difficult thing to do in a Bible study is to determine the significance of events and people to the participants of the story. Often the cultural significance of an action or event is crucial to understanding the story. When Jesus healed a cripple on the Sabbath he offended the Pharisees but he was furious that they would let a man help his donkey on the Sabbath but were offended when Jesus helped a cripple. A woman bleeding was considered highly unclean and shouldn’t have been out in public but one woman dared risk punishment to get healing from Jesus. Without understanding the cultural implications of an action or event, the true or deeper meaning is often lost on us.