By Barbara Rainey
First posted on EverThineHome.com
My seminary class this semester is “The Story of Scripture,” a high-level view of the whole Bible. To make it memorable my prof, who also happens to be the president of the seminary, taught us all a rhythmic chant. He’s very musical and would have been a great cheerleader or yell leader in high school or college!
It’s very simple. We clap our hands and repeat 5-12-5-5-12. 4-1-21-1.
That’s it! Like a children’s song with hand motions that you can’t forget, this pattern of numbers is now lodged in my brain and at random times I find myself subconsciously repeating it over and over.
It means 5 books of Moses, 12 books of history, 5 books of poetry, 5 major prophets, 12 minor prophets ... the major sections of the Old Testament. The New Testament is as you might have guessed: 4 gospels, 1 history of the church, 21 letters, 1 prophesy.
Even as we’ve focused on the big picture, we also are seeing, by our prof’s direction, details that are important to the whole.
Here are two up close discoveries that were new to me early in this semester. I’m sure there will be more.
Most of us know the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11. After the flood all the people gathered in a central locale and decided to cooperate in building a tower. Sounds innocuous at first. So why was this a problem God needed to stop?
First, remember how the serpent tempted Eve? He said she could be like God (see Genesis 3:5). It was a comparison trap and she took the bait.
In Babel this same sin lived on. The people wanted to be like God, and “make ourselves a name” (Genesis 11:4).
For the first time I saw how this ancient story about Babel is relevant in our day. Everybody wants to make a name for themselves. Think social media, politics, professional sports, corporate ladder climbing. It’s so easy to get sucked into power, prestige, and finding significance in our own abilities and accomplishments. It’s why donors to colleges put their names on buildings. And on it goes.
Recently I told God I too have been sucked into this comparison/making a name temptation via social media. Even if your struggle isn’t social media, we all have this desire to be known, to be strong, to not have needs or limitations. We want to be independent and not need God. But the bottom line of the Christian life is our absolute bankruptcy and need of God. Period.
My new prayer has been, “God help me remember every day to make Your name great, not my own.”
A pivotal chapter in the book of beginnings (Genesis) is chapter 12 and the story of God giving Abram three unconditional promises: descendants (which would create a nation), land, and blessing. And very interestingly He also promises Abram that He will make his name great. As Abram obeyed God and followed Him, God would make him a great nation of people and give him a great name. Greatness comes from obedience to God not from our own achievements apart from Him.
But what I’d never seen before in this story is the command God gave to Abram in verse 1: “Go forth from your country,” which Abram did; “and from your relatives.” Wait ... didn’t Abram take someone with him when he left? Genesis 12:4 tells us, “Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken; and Lot (his nephew) went with him.”