Bible Basics: History

Worship on the Lord’s Day
03 September 2023    10:00 am   Pentecost 14
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Online & Onsite (Mixed Presence) Gathering as a Worshipping Community
Led by the Rev. Brad Childs
Music Director: Binu Kapadia        Vocalists: Peter & Cheryl Sheridan & Sabir Aziz
Elder: Iris Routledge

We gather to worship God

Music prelude

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
P: and also with you.

Lighting of the Christ candle
Welcome and announcements
Silent preparation for worship

Call to Worship
L: In the light of this day we have gathered;
P: We are a community that is one, bringing our questions and our joy.
L: In the song and the silence we will listen
P: What is it that God would have us hear this day?
L: In our praise and in our prayers we will remember
P: That God’s glory shines around us and within.
L: So let us worship God.

Opening praise: Forever God is faithful

Prayers of approach and confession

We confess that we have not loved you with all our heart, mind, and strength. Also, We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven. So, We have been angry, selfish, and dishonest. Forgive us, Lord. Help us to love you more than anything else and to love others the way you love us. Amen.

Response: I waited, I waited on you, Lord

Assurance of God’s grace

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) The perfect sacrifice was given for you. If you confess, Mercy in Jesus Christ, is yours. Amen.

Dedication of Adeline Nana Ama Dadzie

Introduction: If you have yet to meet, this is Diana and Gilbert Dadzie and this is Adeline who is just 3 months old, today. It is my joy to introduce them today and to take a moment to affirm this family’s faith and dedicate this soul to her God.

Affirmation of the parents

Diana and Gilbert: do you acknowledge 1 God in 3 persons Father Son and Holy Spirit?

Do you, in dependence upon Jesus Christ put your faith in Him?

Do you believe that God’s spirit is with us, providing spiritual gifts and direction in life?

Do you believe in the bride of Christ, the Church?

And lastly, do you wish to dedicate your daughter to the Lord, promising to raise her up in the faith to be a witness to the resurrection as much as it depends upon you?

The Apostles Creed (539)
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Affirmation of the Congregation: Do you the people of Dayspring promise to help guide and nurture this dear child in as you watch her grow?

Declaration: In Psalm 78:1-7 it reads, My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children,  so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”

Dedication: And now Adeline, we as a community of faith and care, Dayspring Presbyterian Church, and in accordance with the wishes of your family, do now together, dedicate you to the service of the Lord and do pray that your faith may remain strong all the days of your life and beyond just as you will be nurtured and encouraged to do.

Prayer: Lord in dedication to you we present this young life asking for you help as she grows. Bless her and her family and lead her down right paths. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Declaration and Welcome: Welcome to Dayspring and may we all be blessed.

Song: In the presence of your people (427)

We listen for the voice of God

Scripture readings (NRSV): Joshua 21:43; Judges 17:6; Ruth 1:16; 2 Samuel 15:22; Ezra 3:11-13

Response: Glory to the Father

Message: “Bible Basics: History” (See endnotes for explanatory information. Click on the end-note marker to go directly to the note. After you finish reading the end-note, click on the end-note marker to return to the text.)

Joshua: The Book of Joshua is a pivotal narrative in the Bible, marking the transition from Moses to Joshua’s leadership. Following Moses’s death, Joshua leads the Israelites into the promised land through military conquest, challenging the concept of a peaceful migration. Unlike Moses, who never entered the promised land, Joshua successfully crosses the Jordan River, settling the 12 tribes east of the Jordan. This military campaign conveys vital theological and moral lessons.

A central theme is that the land isn’t a gift but more like a lease from God, stressing that all land ultimately belongs to God. The people retain it only through just behavior. Deviation from righteousness risks God’s intervention, although the prospect of return underscores God’s ultimate control.

The conquest led to local population decimation, but archaeological evidence suggests coexistence between Israel and Canaan, framing it as a philosophical war rather than just physical conflict. The human cost, however, remains significant. Joshua resembles a manual on military strategy, studied at institutions like the U.S. Naval Academy. Tactics, such as false retreats and psychological warfare, manifest in the story of the Jericho walls. Fortified cities on hills survived, while others burned, causing substantial casualties. In this era, Hittites and Egyptians exited, while Philistines, likely Greek, settled in. Canaanites practiced polytheism, with archaeology revealing fortified cities and disturbing evidence of child sacrifice, especially of firstborn males. The book challenges the perception of a just and loving God due to the human toll but reinforces themes of divine justice and belief in a higher purpose. As with most of scripture it is intended to engage dialogue.

Set around 1390 BC, it extends the promises from Deuteronomy. The tribes camp east of the Jordan, parting its waters akin to Moses’ Red Sea crossing. The narrative details victories, including the Negev’s control. Crucially, it addresses how the tribes will inhabit and divide the lands, emphasizing God’s role in establishing Israel as a nation under Joshua’s leadership against the Canaanites.

Notable elements in Joshua’s narrative include portraying courage against insurmountable odds, Rahab’s deception to protect Israelite spies, and the enigmatic sun-standing-still event, corroborated elsewhere. The book concludes with Joshua’s farewell speech and death at the Altar of Witness, leaving the covenant’s fate uncertain—a reflection of humanity’s ongoing pursuit of perfection amidst its leaders’ imperfections.

Judges: Next comes complete lawlessness. Judges is one of the bleakest books of the bible. It tells of the dark, anarchic era following the conquest, when no person followed the law, and everyone did whatever they thought right. The world is in Chaos and constant battle, and the only exception to lawlessness is a set of “Judges” seen by Israel as being raised by God as leaders to victory. It is important to note, however, that each one fails. And each is worse than the last. The Judges provide momentary glimpses into the right action but are few and far between. Each one is a terrible example. They hold only a tiny shining light and kernel of truth in a world gone mad.

In the book, Othniel is a tyrant; Ehud is a lefty who isn’t searched because he keeps his sword on the opposite side, and it isn’t seen, so he kills a local king. It’s a story that reminds us God uses everyone as they are. But heroic he is not. He hides the body on the toilet, so the King’s men won’t just bust in on him. Jair pretends to or perhaps does sleep with a rival warring king, and then while he sleeps, she hammers a tent peg through his head. That’s not a hero’s tale. Sampson rejects his oaths, thinks his hair gives him strength instead of God and ultimately commits suicide to kill some more Philistines.

The Israelites face a lot of conflict from the remaining Canaanites and divisions within their ranks as the land is divided between tribes. It is a lawless time, and the people ultimately want Law and Order in their country and rules to make people feel safe again. The oddity here is that Israel has choice after choice to follow the God who made a promise to Abraham, watched over Joseph, brought them from Egypt, cared for them in the desert, and made a covenant with Moses to act justly and obediently. Yet they continually turned back to the local gods of Canaan, who demanded little from people in general but occasionally the blood of their own children – so not great. It was contrary to the Hebrews, whose entire society is based on what is best for the community and not just the individual. The main point here is that this is what a military conquest looks like when God is on the back burner. People do whatever horrible stuff they feel they must do to stay alive. And it isn’t good folks. It isn’t pleasant. The book needs help finding good and faithful people. Like with the communion feast of heaven with all our loved and lost saints in every age, what we have is a tiny taste.

Ruth: She is a break in the story. It’s also a wonderful reminder to the people that just because someone doesn’t know or follow the God of Israel doesn’t make them enemies. Ruth is a tiny and influential book about a Gentile (Moabite and not an Israelite) woman and her faithfulness, love and commitment to the God of Israel, her mother-in-law, and her future husband. After all this military fighting, Ruth asks the reader a hard question considering some of their misdeeds. It begs the question, Who are the chosen people? Are they born or made? Is God only with a specific race or perhaps an intended goal. It’s an odd placement for the book. It interrupts the flow of the story. It’s an odd placement until you realize that the constructors or “redactors” who compiled the order we have of the text are giving us a break and a time of reflection to consider others (and sojourners) living in the promised land. One point of the book is that the promise is intended to draw in even nations they don’t know exists. They are supposed to be a shining light to the world.

This book is about duty to one’s family, affection, and friendship. The incredible thing is that the person who most embodies all the best qualities of a Child of Abraham – is not one. She is also a SHE. SHE!!! !!! is a woman and an outsider. And she is glorious throughout the book. [1] This book is history with purpose. Especially important to note is the fact that Ruth will someday have a famous great-grandson called David. And guess what’s next for us in the bible? David.

1-2 Samuel 1 In 1-2 Samuel, the people are tired of the lawlessness of Judges. People complain they have no king like other nations. They want one. The book recalls the first two kings of Israel. Saul is chosen for his appearance and stature, and a man called David is chosen for his devotion and being the “least of these”. The book is named after Samuel, who was sent to anoint first Saul and later David as kings. The book is about the idea that God wants your love and devotion and that rituals only matter when you really mean them. (I may be more Lutheran the Presbyterian on that one)

Firstly, these two scrolls were intended as one “book.” It was turned into two because scrolls weren’t made long enough. It’s one book. In fact, Both 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings were intended to be two parts of one book. The author is still being determined, though Samuel seems to have contributed to specific quotes. A key line is – Does God want your sacrifices – NO – He wants you and you to do what is right and follow Him with your heart. [2]

At the beginning of the book, there is a story about how corrupt the priests have become. They have allowed the Philistines to capture the Ark of the Covenant because they weren’t even watching it. At its core, this is a huge statement. It scolds the people for not reading their bibles. It says outsiders have more faith in our God and his Ark than you do! But mostly, this is an indictment of the religious elites like me and a message that God doesn’t care anywhere near as much about observances as devotion and intent (the heart)!

So anyway, the people want a king. But the first King Samuel always seemed to do the right thing in the wrong way. He fails repeatedly and is not the New Adam or New Humanity. He isn’t a prophet and isn’t a priest, and he’s not much of a King. He fails brilliantly. At the end of “1 Samuel”, Saul dies after going to see a conjurer called the Witch of Endor (another incredibly disturbing section)!

In 2 Samuel, we have the rise of a righteous King: the teen boy named David. [3] David is heroic and messianic in that he does things that were promised that the New Adam would do to bring us back to the Garden of Eden or thought to be, in all of the books we’ve seen so far. He united the two Kingdoms into one nation. He returns the Ark to the land; he commissions the permanent Temple in place of the Tabernacle (Tent). But he is also an adultery, a murderer, and child neglecter who reaps those broken laws’ negative rewards. His family is a disgustingly awful disaster, generally because of his philandering. And the book ends with an appendix. The opening lists the death of all but one of David’s children, suggesting that breaking the Torah creates Chaos. But like with almost all biblical stories, “Eve will be saved through her childbearing.” As Star Wars says, “There is another.”

1-2 Kings: 1-2 Kings is just 3rd and 4th Samuel as it was initially just one book. Kings continues the story of early Kings with the reign of Solomon the Wise and then goes downhill from there as the kingdom splits in two again (Judah and Israel). A wave of evil kings follows Samuel in ruling the land. Described is the downfall of the people in power and the kingdom.

If one verse that could summarize the book well it may be from chapter 18, verse 21, which says, “How much longer will you try to have things both ways? If the Lord is God, worship the Lord. But if Baal is God, try Him”. [4]

The scroll was recorded during the Exile (again – this is not the subject but is the audience). The Theme is that you should never give up because He will be faithful if you are faithful. And more to the point, since all the heroes fail, God may still be anyway. In this book, Daniel is now an old man and, ?of course?, has a lot of naked young women sleeping in his bed “for his warmth”. In short, he’s not exactly “The New Adam – The new Human”. He brings part of the promises but not the whole thing. He’s messianic. And next, he dies.

Solomon is the only child left with “no blood on his hands,” Because of this, God allows Solomon to build the permanent Tabernacle or tent called the Solomon’s Temple that David, his father, commissioned. Solomon built it and, for a time, worshiped there. But then he, too, fails, and his people fall. The country splits into two once more “Judah” and “Israel” – two provinces. And what follows next are the descriptions of ten politicians (kings of Israel) condemning all but two kings of Judah who are celebrated. But the downward spiral continues. It’s depressing. So, in 2 Kings 13:23, it says, But the Lord was King to the Israelites. He showed them mercy because of His solemn agreement with their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has never turned his back on them or let them be “destroyed.” [v] The rest of the book is a political analysis of the North and South kings. [5]

1-2 Chronicles: The Chronicles is a retelling of the Original Samuel-Kings scroll in a condensed form. So, it’s from a later time. And it’s for people who don’t follow politics. The book’s primary concern is the kings of Judah in a divided kingdom. The Kings of Judah, it argues, are better, and it has a clear political bent. The books of Kings and Chronicles are like a debate within the bible between the two contemporary histories told by the ancient Hebrews. Its purpose is to help people discover how and where things went wrong.

The Chronicles is a single book of history explicitly directed at those who just returned from Exile (which, again – hasn’t happened yet in the order of biblical texts). The stories are from long ago, but the audience is new. Likely, it was initially written by Ezra. It appears to be a bit of an updated history for his own time. He uses more modern language; it’s less metaphorical in most places, and to me, it seems like it’s a book created for young people at the time as “cliff notes” for the children of the nation. But, where Kings is about a Political Divide, the Chronicles are about a Spiritual Divide. As a result, two things happen. 1. God lets the people who are most invested in New Eden, New Humanity, and the promised land stay. 2. To those unsure, he allows them to go their own way. Particularly of concern is participation in worship while the Temple remains unfinished and what that says about the people and their devotion. The second portion (2 Chronicles) records the finishing of the Temple and Solomon’s time as King.

Ezra-Nehemiah: As with others, Ezra and Nehemiah were originally just one book. They focus on the return from Exile, the building up the city walls, and reconstructing of the Temple, which was destroyed.

The last chapter of Ezra comes to us from 60 years after the previous line was written. It describes a man named Ezra who sees people building their own homes and setting up expensive amenities and takes the time to point out that the Temple is still in shambles. Ezra says, If you love the Lord, why live in luxury but let the Temple fall apart? Put your money where your mouth is!

Nehemiah is the wine tester who drinks it first to make sure it’s safe. He does this for the King in the South and hears about what is happening in Jerusalem. Nehemiah comes in tears after a year of repeated prayer and fasting, and those who generally came before the King came humbly and joyfully to make the King happy. His humility is rewarded, and the hint to the people is similar. If they become humble and speak the truth from the soul, they, too, might be answered. The most crucial verse in these two scrolls comes from Nehemiah’s defence of the building of Jerusalem’s wall, where he states, “We keep praying to God, and yet we also place our archers upon the hills both day and night.” Brilliant! Trust, pray and act. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

Esther: Esther is the story of Queen Esther, a Hebrew woman who becomes the queen of Persia and rescues her people from extermination at the hands of their enemies. Esther is perhaps the most modern in the Hebrew Bible. It is about how God is at work in our lives, even when it seems as if God is completely silent. And again, it takes a break from the flow of the story. Like Ruth, she is uniquely less criticized. She is heroic, to be sure. This is a theme once more where the one unexpected is righteous.

Interesting note: This is not just one but one of two books in our bible where God is never explicitly mentioned. However, many argue (and I agree) that the Holy name of God given to Moses is repeatedly hidden in the scroll by its original construction in several acrostics throughout the book. The first letters of certain sections spell out God’s name. The suggestion? God is there, even when he doesn’t appear to be. Starting next week we will look to the wisdom books. So… Here endeth the lesson.

Song: Oh, sing to the Lord (453)

We respond to serve God

Reflection on giving: Dayspring is empowered to carry out our mission of worship, service, and care by generously given volunteer time, talent, and treasure. Many thanks to all who give so generously!

Prayer of gratitude and for others and ourselves
Father, for those in turmoil, we pray for help.
For those who care for the broken, we pray for support.
For those who have lost someone or may be soon to, we ask for strength.
For those who are lost, we pray for direction.
For those struggling, we request a leg up.
For those fleeing trouble, we ask for peace.
Father, be present with us, your children and help us to be present with you. Amen.

The Sacrament of Holy Communion

This is your invitation to the table. The meal is for all who call on Jesus. Come, taste and see that the Lord is good.

Song: Let us break bread together (548)

Communion Prayer

We thank you, our Father, for that life which you’ve made known to us by Jesus, your Son, by whom you made all things, and take care of the whole world. You sent Him to become a man for our salvation. You allowed Him to suffer and to die. You raised Him up, glorified Him, and have set Him at your right hand, and in Him, you’ve promised us the resurrection of the dead.

O Lord Almighty, the eternal God, gather your Church from the ends of the earth into your kingdom as grain was once scattered and now has become one loaf. Our Father, we also thank you for the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for us, and for His precious body, as He appointed us, “to proclaim his death.” For through Him, glory is to be given to you forever. Amen.

Sharing of the bread and wine

On the night of his betrayal, Jesus took the bread and broke it. Giving it to the disciples he said, This is my body given for you, This do in remembrance of me.

In the same way he took up the cup, adding, This is a new covenant made in my blood. This do in remembrance of me. As often as we eat and drink this together, we proclaim the coming of Christ again.

Song: One Bread, one Body (540

The prayer after Communion

O Lord God, eternal Father, we praise and thank you for your grace that through your Son Jesus Christ, you established this supper in which we eat His body and drink His blood. By your Holy Spirit, help us to use this gift: to confess and forsake our sins, to confidently believe that we’re forgiven through Christ, and to grow in faith and love day by day, until we come at last to the joy of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Hymn: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus in the morning (378, vss. 1-5)

Sending out with God’s blessing

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.

Response: The Blessing

Music postlude


Numbers in brackets after a song/hymn indicate that it is from the 1997 Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Those and other songs are being used in accordance with the specifications of Dayspring’s licensing with One Licence (3095377) and CLC (A735555).

The Rev. Brad Childs retains the copyright (© 2023) on all original material in this service. As far as Brad Childs is aware, all of the material that has not been attributed to others is his own creation or is in the public domain. Unacknowledged use of copyrighted material is unintentional and will be corrected immediately upon notification being received.

End Notes

[1] Now, I’ve said repeatedly that all the heroes are anti-heroes. And it’s not PG, it’s R, but truth is no different. The seeds of sin echo in the lives of heroes. In the story, Ruth lies at the feet of Boaz to convince Boaz to marry her. Many falsely claimed to know of an ancient promissory ritual. That was a lie. Ruth lays at his feet and not to be too dirty, but it’s a reality that “feet” in the bible is very often a euphemism for something “genitals” as is occasionally “robe”.

[2] Please note that this section of the bible also quotes outside biblical sourceswhich is interesting, to say the least, but once more, notice that the Hebrew God uses non-Hebrews’ wisdom to teach the “chosen” how to act. This is one in a million hints in the Hebrew bible that the story of God’s people is far, far, far more significant than generally perceived.

[3] IF YOU ARE A SERIOUS KEENER WRITE THIS DOWN… Who slays the Giant Goliath (Maybe it’s a man named Elhanan and not David who killed Goliath (2 Samuel 21:19). But as was sometimes done, the King represents all people. Then again, you must also see two other references. One is 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 and 2 Samuel 21:15-22 – which says that Lahmi is the brother of Goliath that Elhanan killed, not Goliath. Either way, it’s interesting, to say the least.) The authors, compilers, and, quite frankly, the Holy Spirit had no issue with this oddity. So let me say. I have no idea how to honestly approach this except to say that the King was often used to typify the nation. If the King is terrible, everyone did evil… It’s a metaphor of sorts. But I am unsure how to deal with David being introduced twice and how that unfolds. For now – know – sometimes – I am not just confused, but perhaps I’m WAY more lost than you. It happens. In the immortal words of that great Canadian prophet Red Green, “We’re all in this together.”

[4] This book is about a final split between Canaanite gods (not just Baal but the pantheon) and the idea that there may be ONLY ONE God. Up until now 99% of the bible suggests a belief in One Higher God, but many. Things are about to change.

[5] Yes, Judah collapsed 140 later than the other provinces, but they still fell for the same reasons. It’s like Kings and Chronicles are debating morals from two political sides that do not agree. That doesn’t mean the bible has contradictions; that means we are presented with two competing views, and we are intended to debate, think, ask questions, and determine our views. That’s not an error. That is beauty and freedom! All of 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings is a prosecution of government in general. They still need to create a new Garden of Eden.

Copyright 2023: The Rev. Bradley R. Childs

Posted in Recent Sermons.