Aug10MonAugust 10, 2020
Every great story has at least one character. Think about any book you have ever read, or movie you have ever watched. They all include characters. Even if those characters are simply a tomato and cucumber. The stories in our Bible are no different, but just because a character in the Bible does something doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. Which means that when you read a Bible story you have to ask yourself some questions about the characters. Is he good or bad? Should I imitate her? What can I learn from their actions?
Narratives in the Bible don’t teach us doctrine explicitly, instead they illustrate what is taught in other portions of scripture, like the epistles. For instance, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow to the idol that was erected by King Nebby we see the first and second commandment in action…
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:3-6
That is an action we should imitate. To obey God rather than man. But not every Bible character should be looked at as an example of what we should do. Frankly, every character in the Bible has serious flaws, except Jesus. Samson was carnal, and arrogant; David committed adultery with Bathsheba; Abraham lied when he said his wife was his sister. The list goes on and on.
And how do we know that these actions are wrong? Because other parts of the Bible tell us that these are sins.
The stories in the Bible show us what people in ancient times did. They also show us what we do. They are real people committing the same sins that we commit. That may come across as a little dark, sounding like there is no hope, but what do most of these characters do when they are confronted with their sin? David, for instance, when his sin of adultery was brought to light, immediately repented of his sin. Which brings us to one of the main purposes of any story in the Bible…people are imperfect and sinful, but God is gracious and merciful, willing to forgive their sin, and thankfully our sin.
*Homework: We look to people in the Bible as an example of how to live. Sometimes, it is hard to determine if we should imitate or avoid. Spend a little time considering Gideon in Judges 6-7. Was Gideon’s request for wet/dry fleece an action meant to be imitated or avoided?