LESSON 1: SLOW DOWN, LOOK, AND REALLY SEE
IT IS SO EASY TO COME TO A FAMILIAR PASSAGE
THINKING YOU KNOW THE POINT SO THAT YOU FAIL TO
AND REALLY SEE
ONE OF THE FIRST LESSONS THAT MY DAUGHTER SALLY WAS TAUGHT AS AN ARTIST
WAS TO PAINT WHAT SHE REALLY SAW
AND NOT WHAT SHE THOUGHT SHE SAW
BY REALLY LOOKING, AND NOT ASSUMING,
SHE HAD TO STUDY THE BARK, THE LEAVES, THE SHADOWS
AND THEREFORE NOT DRAW THE UNTRUE TREE
I WOULD HAVE DRAWN!
I welcome you to this new short series on how to study the Bible so that we do not just become smarter sinners but are transformed. God’s Word has the power, if we approach it rightly, to set us free.
If you are new — click on the directions on the right to join. Your first comment will need to be approved, but once you are on, you can just jump on and comment any time. You’ll find a wonderful supportive group here and we help each other see!
Sometimes we have been taught wrong. There are some historical passages in the Bible that should not be taught to children for children are not ready for them. I cringe when I see a book about Esther for toddlers, or even young children. They distort the story to make it suitable for children, changing it into an exciting beauty contest instead of the sordid sexual abuse of girls that it was. Josephus says four hundred young virgins were “taken” from their homes — and one by one they lost their virginity to this salacious man. Though we cannot know how many were taken and how many Xerxes slept with before he got to Esther, the text itself supports that they were “taken,” and also shows, if you read carefully, the abuse. Again and again women who did my study on Esther objected — until I showed them how to really look and see what was there, and not what they thought was there. They had to slow down, and look carefully at the passage (as we will do during this series) and see not what they thought was there, but what was really there.
The passage we will look at this week has often been taught wrong. It is a challenging passage and some older translations did not make it clear. (Later translations such as ESV and NIV did better, but it is simply one of those murky passages.) If you have heard a passage taught incorrectly repeatedly, it is hard not to come to it with presuppositions. But we must be like the Bereans and look for ourselves, to see if the things we have been taught are really true.
We’ll also listen this week to a panel discussion of women from The Gospel Coalition called Training Women To Teach The Bible. It’s free and downloadable. Click Here
SUNDAY/MONDAY (Icebreaker and Getting to Know You)
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
2. If you are willing, in a sentence, tell us your name, where you live, and what in your life gives you joy and
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study
Malachi 2:16 is a challenging passage, which increases its propensity for mis-interpretation. Some of the phrases are antiquated, such as the phrase “covers his garment with violence” (ESV) or “covereth violence with his garment” (KJV). What does this mean? One way to find out is to look at other passages that use this concept of covering.
Likewise, the KJV says “I hate divorce,” whereas the CEV says “The Lord God All-Powerful of Israel hates anyone who is cruel enough to divorce his wife.” Which is closer to the true meaning? One way to find out is by looking at the context.
AND REALLY SEE
CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT
3. Find the pattern of how the priests respond to God. How do they respond when He says:
A. I have loved you (Malachi 1:2)
B. You have despised my name (Malachi 1:6)
C. You have offered polluted food upon my altar (Malachi 1:7)
D. Note in the above, how God then goes into detail when they object that they have not offered polluted food. How does He substantiate His charge? (Malachi 1:8-14?)
4. What did God call priests to do and how did these priests failed? (Malachi 2:7-9)
5. These priests of Judah were married to Israelite women. But they have divorced their wives. Why, according to Malachi 2:11?
COVER, COVER, COVER
A theme of the prophets is that bad behavior is covered with religious ritual. Isaiah 58 is classic — they fast, yet they beat their workers, they “seem” to seek the Lord, but do not do what is right. There is a play on words here that you can see better when you understand the concept of covering. As God has covered us with His grace, husbands are to cover their wives, protecting them, cherishing them. But that is not what they are doing. See if you can find it.
AND REALLY SEE
The concept of covering is a beautiful one. The Hebrew word “kanaph” may be translated garment, or corner of the garment, or even wing — as this delightful picture, originally found by our own Joyce, portrays.
6. Find the concept of covering in a positive sense in:
A. Psalm 91:3-4
B. Ruth 3:9
7. Have you experienced this covering from either your Heavenly Husband or your earthly husband? If so, share an example.
8. In Malachi, God shows that, just has been their pattern, the priests have twisted His calling for them. How is covering used in the sense of “cover-up” in Malachi 2:13?
9. Now we come to the oft-misinterpreted passage. In light of the context, what do you think is God’s central point?
10. If this different than you have sometimes heard — or not?
11. One mis-interpretation that is common is that God is opposed to divorce in any circumstances — and that those who have been divorced, even if they had no say but were abandoned, should be disciplined. Can you explain, in light of the context, in light of other, perhaps clearer passages on divorce, why this is a twisting of the truth here?
The following in an e-mail I received from a woman after speaking on Malachi 2:
I separated from my emotionally and physically abusive husband. He wouldn’t get help and moved in with another woman. We are now divorced. So many shattered dreams.
Today when you said that what God hates is “covering his wife with violence,” I wept, for I had never seen that part of the passage. I have so often felt condemned by the church, but today I sensed God covering me with His tender mercies, letting me know that He sees, He cares, and that He will deal with my husband. I left the seminar feeling loved by God…
Thursday-Friday: Listen to this panel of women from the Women’s Gospel Coalition: Link
12. How would you define, after listening to this, expositional preaching?
13. Why is expositional preaching important?
14. What are some ways, after listening to these women, to become adept at handling the Word of God?
15. With what did you agree from these women? Disagree? Why?
16. What is your take-a-way and why?