Teaching about Bible Characters
by Manuel Vargas
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Teaching about Bible Characters
Hi, Iím grateful to be sharing the word with you again by the grace of God. Iím going to share how we can uniquely dig out information about a bible character and present them with a fresh insight to those God will have us minister too.
Most people today think and believe that yesterdayís bible character is irrelevant for todayís problems. Others cannot seem to be able to understand the lifestyle that these biblical characters had lived and the amazing grace, faith and power God had demonstrated in their lives.
Still others seem to place these biblical characters on a pedestal as though they are so special and unmatched that we could never measure up to their faith, perseverance, diligence and obedience toward God.
Finally, another reason why people cannot understand biblical characters is because they cannot see the connection of the time-less principles that these characters had experienced and how it can apply and instruct us today.
Simple Facts are
Whatever opinion we may have about a bible character we must understand that although we are reading about a character in a different time and culture, yet the characters we read about face similar struggles we do.
1. They encounter many challenges
2. They encounter many disappointments
3. They have had many problems in their relationships
4. They lacked faith in certain situations that they should have believed God for
5. They had missed Godís direction
6. They were themselves dishonest and unfaithful
7. They did what they wanted to do until God stopped them in their tracks
You see, we heard so much preaching and teaching about the positive things that God had done in their lives and what they did to be in a position to receive the blessings of God, but we barely hear the other side of the story. We cannot overlook the fact that they were human and they made mistakes (except for Jesus see Hebrews 4:15).
The Aim in Research
Our aim in studying any bible character is to bring out a balance view. We cannot make them super-human and untouchable. We certainly cannot make them super-weak and unreliable. There is a balance approach that we must take as bible teachers to draw out all the facts and properly present them to the body of Christ and those God wants to reach and grant them salvation.
We should be wise to win souls by carefully evaluating the lives of all bible characters that have a unique parallel to the person or persons we are trying to reach with the word of God. In the course of studying any bible character we will read about their faith and faults, their happiness and depression or sadness, their victories and defeats or set-backs, their encounters with God and their confrontation with evil and so on. It will be unfair as bible teachers to present only one side of the story.
Paulís Instructions on Studying Scriptures
Paul said, for whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4 KJV).
Our desire to study scripture should always be with two purposes in mind;
1. To learn what God had done in the lives of these bible characters.
2. To build our hope and trust in God that no matter what we are presently going through, we can expect that God will turn it around for good. But we must do this through patience and comfort of the scriptures when we study them.
Studying a Bible Character
When we study a bible character we need to;
1. Identify the character-who is he or she?
2. Find the location where the character is first mentioned
3. Find other books that refer or mention the character
4. Find out all we can about that character where they are first mentioned then read about them in other parts of scripture
5. Topical concordances can help-they are in the back of some study bibles
6. A bible dictionary can help (Keep in mind resources feed you limited information)
7. The Life Application bible has character profiles (Briefly-we still need to dig deeper)
Dissecting a Character
When dig deeper into a characters life we;
1. Separate the character from the others
2. We categorize them by detailing the facts of their lives
3. Community Status- birth, upbringing, and place of residence
4. Training Status- Education, vocation, hands on or schooled, or trained in the family business
5. Relatives- Grand-parents, parents, siblings, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins
6. Marital Status- single, friend, boy or girlfriend, engaged or married, living with someone without being married, multiple wives, etc.
7. Criminal History- what was the crime; Murder, robbery, rape or kidnapping
8. Social Class- rich, middle class, poor, homeless, orphaned, prostitute
9. Citizen or Foreigner- were they legal or illegal in the land
10. Occupation- Job, career, small business owner, in full-time ministry
11. Spiritual encounters- Dreams, visions, angelic visitations, miracles, signs and wonders, healings
12. Calling- King, priest, prophet in the OT; Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Evangelist or teacher in the NT
Through this list of areas which we should consider and thoroughly research we can clearly begin to identify the character we are studying and see how that they are no different from us. Then we can expect to learn a lesson from their lives by studying their Strengths and accomplishments, and their weaknesses and mistakes.
In order to probe deeper in their lives we need to ask intelligent biblical questions like;
1. Who are they? What is there name? Who named them? What significance does that name have? Jacob means trickster. Israel means prince of God. Emmanuel means God with us.
2. In what community they lived in? What country or city or town? What nation? Did they move frequently? Did they live in the mountains or the valley? In a rich neighborhood or the ghetto? Was it a good place to cultivate? Or was it the desert? This information is important as learning about Chinatown or little Italy in lower Manhattan NYC. We will know the location and who actually lives there as well as, the activities that go on there that may have influence the character.
3. What was going on in the world? What attitudes, beliefs, and customs prevailed in the world at the time the person lived?
4. What about their physical appearance? Were they handsome or beautiful? What did they wear? What is their gender male or female? What about their age? How old were they when they came in contact with God? What about their health was it poor or good? Were they on any medication or therapy? Did they see a doctor often and still remained in bad health?
5. What kind of training the character had? Was it vocational training? Family owned business with- a- hands -on type of training? Or a trade that was taught to the next generation? What kind of educational type of training they experienced?
6. What was the characterís Criminal History?
What crime did they commit? Moses committed murder (Exo.2:11-14/ Acts 7:23-24)
Who did he kill? An Egyptian guard (Exo.2:11-14)
What was the motive for the act of murder? Anger at oppression and authorative abuse (Acts 7:23-24)
A willingness to bring deliverance to his people from Egyptian bondage (Exo.2:11-14)
A misguided understanding that he can avenge his peopleís affliction (Acts 7:23-24)
What kind of plans did he make to commit such an act?
First, he spied out the Egyptian oppressing and whipping a Hebrew slave (Exo.2:11-12)
Second, he waited until he caught the Egyptian alone.
Third, he secured that no one was looking so he thought (Exo.2:11-12)
Fourth, he killed the Egyptian (Exo.2:11-12)
Where did he kill the Egyptian? In Egypt
After he killed the Egyptian, what else did he do? He buried the body in the sand (Exo.2: 11-12) Why did he bury the body? To avoid getting caught for the crime
How long was this crime concealed? One day
Who found out what Moses did? The Hebrews so word got out and he fled Egypt
Where did he flee too? The land of Midian for 40 years
How old was he when he committed this crime 40 years old. We learn this by Stephen in (Acts 7:26-30)
When did God call Moses? When he was 80 years old
I went into detail to show you Godís amazing grace on Mosesí life. If he can use a murderer to bring you the Ten Commandments he can use you to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Well, Iím not a murderer? If you hate your Christian brother John classifies you as one (1 John 3:13-15).
7. Was the character a citizen or a foreigner in the land they were in? What was their immigration status? Did they have to buy their citizenship?
8. What was their social status? Moses was socially elite in Egypt (Exo.2:1-10). Then he became a criminal and fugitive (Exo.2:11-15). Then he became a hard-working shepherd, husband and father (Exo.2:15-22/ Acts 7:29). Then he became a successful leader of Israel (Exo.3:2-10).
By questioning every aspect of the character can we draw out info that is mind-blowing and penetrating to bring us to the awareness of Godís amazing power, grace, forgiveness and calling on our lives. Then as we take hold of these truths from the word of God and apply it to our lives and experience the wonderful blessings of God. We can then share it uniquely with Godís people and not like the scribes and Pharisees. May God bless you with a clear studious approach to study a bible character in Jesusí name, amen.
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