Timeline of Old Testament History
Timeline of Old Testament History

Toward the end of last semester’s Old Testament History class, which covered Joshua through 2 Chronicles, I made this timeline as a way to get a quick glimpse of not only the chronological sequence of Israel’s history, but also the spiritual state of the nation and it’s leaders.

While any attempt at this has to be somewhat subjective, there are many explicit statements throughout the Old Testament that provide valuable hints, i.e. “the king did what was required by the Lord, but he did not remove the high places,” or “never before or after was there a king that did more evil in the sight of the Lord and caused Israel to sin against the Lord.”  The timeline is my estimation of the effect of those statements.

Here’s how to read it: the nation in general is represented by the gray line, which varies in width and height above or below the date line.  Along with the nation, Israel’s leaders from Moses to the 400 years of silence are shown as they walk with God and rise above the date line, or walk in the flesh and drop below it.  Generally, it seems that as the leader goes, the nation goes, though there are obvious exceptions as well.

For the full timeline, click on the picture above, or click here.  And be sure to let me know what you think in the comments.

The Prophets

Lately I’ve been intrigued by some of the unique ways information is conveyed graphically.  An example of this may be seen in the idea behind word clouds.  Essentially, a word cloud is an image made up of words, where the size of the word represents the frequency it occurs in a text.  Brad Thomas at the identity33.com blog recently made word clouds for all 66 of the books of the Bible using an English translation.  The result is an interesting glimpse at what the Bible speaks most about.

Since one of the first classes we’ll have when we get back to Jackson is the Prophets, I decided to enter the text of the Major and Minor prophets (Isaiah through Malachi) into the cloud generator at wordle.net.  The result is the image you see above featuring the most frequent 150 words (excluding numbers and common words like “the”) from the prophets in the NET translation.

For obvious reasons, we have to be careful about the type of conclusions we can make based on a picture like this.  What we can get, however, is an idea about context.  We can tell right from the start who the main subjects are.  God’s people, Israel and Judah, the city of Jerusalem and the promised land are all prominent.  But my favorite part is the overwhelming size of “Lord”.  Is there any question what the most used word in the prophets is?  This is simple, but something I often neglect to realize: beyond Israel, the prophets, the prophetic message or anything else, the most important thing in the prophets is the Lord.  All the events of the Bible, each story told within, is ultimately a chapter in God’s redemptive story.  No Biblical event has any meaning apart from God’s involvement in it.

We’re tempted to focus on our part in the story, but the words point us to the real subject.

Dreaming of a Warm Christmas


As we boarded the plane in Detroit, the wind chill outside was -9 degrees.  That’s 41 degrees below freezing.  Today in Dallas, it was 41 degrees above freezing.  I love Texas.

Rachel and I are excited to get to spend about a month here with our friends and family after completing our first semester at New Tribes.  We’re 1/4th of the way finished in Michigan, and so far we have worked our way through:

  • Biblical Foundations (a survey),
  • Bibliology (how we got the Bible),
  • Hermeneutics (principles of interpretation),
  • Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy),
  • Old Testament History (Joshua – 2 Kings/Chronicles)
  • Proverbs
  • and electives on Islam, Cultural & Geographical background of Acts, and Ruth/Ecclesiastes/Song of Solomon

We look forward to building on the Old Testament foundation next semester as we start with a study of the Prophets before moving into the Life of Christ and the New Testament.

But for now, we’re looking forward to Texas.

We would appreciate your prayers as we do some traveling around the Dallas area, as well as trips to see Rachel’s family, and our friends in College Station.  And as always, please keep Rachel and the baby in your prayers.  Thanks!

Hello World


This afternoon Rachel and I went for her 20 week appointment and ultrasound.  According to the ultrasound tech, everything is in the right place and the baby is growing normally.  He (that’s right…it’s a boy!) moved around a lot and gave us a little wave at one point.


I think you could say there is a general consensus among the world outside of Christianity that Christian missions is nothing more than a form of colonialism.  The argument falls somewhere along the lines of 1) they are individuals with human rights and are happy as they are, and therefore 2) who are you to impose your culture on them?

I’m no scholar, and I can’t speak for any tribal people, but last week I was shown a short video from New Tribes called Awayo: Fear to Faith, which I believe does a fair job of illustrating the Moi worldview before and after receiving the gospel.  At the very least, I will let Awayo tell me what is best for him over the opinion of a guy in a classroom.

(Parents: I’d encourage you to watch this first before showing it to your children.)


Check out a higher quality version at http://ntm.org/video/, or if you’d like to hear Awayo tell his story in his own language (with subtitles), go to http://vimeo.com/7087303.

Further Evidence

I’m not typically the sort who has to hear something for myself before I’ll believe it (as I did in fact believe it before today), but if I were that type of person, I would now have no excuse.

Today at Rachel’s doctor’s appointment, we heard this:


For those of you still doing the math, I’ll help you out: we’re having a baby!  Rachel is just entering her 2nd trimester, which means she’s finally getting some relief from the morning sickness, and the doctor said that all her tests from the last visit looked great.  Our due date is in mid/late April.

Disclaimer:  If this is the first time you’ve heard of this (not of babies in general, but of our baby), then we’re sorry you had to hear it in such an impersonal manner as a website.  Still, we’re glad you know now.  Feel free to call us and we’ll pretend like we’re telling you for the first time.

An Example of Worldview

Our worldview plays a major role in the way we interpret life.

Our home church, New Life, is currently working through The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World in which John Piper, Justin Taylor, and a handful of top-notch contributors contrast the Biblical Theistic worldview against the predominant Western worldview of our day, postmodernism.  If you are interested, New Life’s blog has some excellent running commentary on the subject.

One of our current classes here at our training is called Evangelism in a Postmodern World.  The goal is to gain a proper understanding of the way our worldview affects what we believe and to study the characteristics of various worldviews (including postmodernism) so that we can be prepared to share the gospel as clearly as possible.  Last week in class, we talked briefly about two parallel passages in the book of Acts that are an excellent example of the effect of worldview on our actions.

In Acts 3, Peter and John heal a crippled man in the presence of a Jewish audience.  In Acts 14, Paul heals a crippled man while working among a predominantly pagan audience.  Notice the reaction of each.

Acts 3:1-10 Acts 14:8-13
1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 8In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked.
3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk.
9He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. 11When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.

Each group interpreted the miraculous healing according to what they knew about the world.  The Jews in the Acts 3 passage knew (according to their worldview) that only God was capable of a miracle like that, so the man who was healed immediately began running and jumping and praising God.  Those who watched were amazed… could these people really be God’s messengers?  Could Christ whom they preach really be the truth as they claimed?  Those who saw Paul’s miracle had a completely opposite reaction to a remarkably similar situation.  Their worldview told them that the gods were prone to take on a human form from time to time.  Anyone demonstrating that kind of power, therefore, must be a god.  Zeus, according to their worldview was the most powerful of the gods, and he typically used Hermes to be his communicator, so the two men standing before them must be those two deities that they already knew.

Now I can’t say that Paul did or did not know that worldview would be an issue in that situation, but you can see that later in Acts 17 he did take worldview into account.  As he spoke to the Areopagus in Athens he didn’t start with the gospel, but first addressed the beliefs of his audience:

“Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.24“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33At that, Paul left the Council. 34A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.” (Acts 17:22-34)

It’s not an easy thing to share the gospel in a way that can be clearly understood, but when we start with an understanding of worldview, we’re on the right track.

Biblical Foundations

Cafe Terrace at Night, Vincent Van Gogh
Cafe Terrace at Night, Vincent Van Gogh

Last winter Rachel and I decided to do a jigsaw puzzle together.  We had done a puzzle as a dating couple, which was fun and partly responsible for Rachel’s lapse in judgment in agreeing to marry me (whatever it takes, guys), so we thought we’d get a hard one with a billion (or so) pieces to do over the Christmas break.  Someone thought it would be a good idea to make a 1500 piece puzzle of Van Gogh’s Cafe Terrace at Night.  I might disagree.

While we worked on that puzzle, a simple truth became very evident.  If you want to make any progress, you have to look at the picture on the box.  If you are going to solve a puzzle which is made up of thousands of tiny pieces, you have to know the big picture.  When you can see the big picture, you can see how the pieces fit together.  You don’t waste your time forcing matches that aren’t there.

If we didn’t have that box, we’d still be in College Station working on that puzzle.

The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus by John Cross
The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus by John Cross

I recently finished reading the textbook for one of the first courses you take here, Biblical Foundations.  As you might have guessed from the name, the focus is on the big picture of the Bible by which we can understand how all the stories within fit together.

The book is called The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus by John Cross.  Just as Jesus walked with those two disciples away from Jerusalem, beginning with “Moses and all the Prophets” and explaining to them “what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27), Cross begins his book at the beginning and walks chronologically through the key events of the Bible. It would be quite difficult to finish this book and not have a clear understanding of who you are, who God is, and why He’s the best thing you could ever hope for.

Armed with a proper understand of the big picture, we can dive into the Bible with greater clarity than ever before.  I can’t wait.

Jackson Welcomes You


We’re finally completely (not actually completely) unpacked.  We like Jackson.  The town of 33,000 has a cool mixture of old and new that makes you feel as if you’ve been here a hundred years.  There are many more churches that we thought we’d find (though our expectations weren’t really based on anything), and many of them are these towering majestic century old buildings that cast their jagged shadow on everything around them.

Thank goodness.

While I have no clue about the rest of Michigan, one might infer that Jackson is somewhat conservative.  Call it an educated guess.

We really like our campus.  The building was originally the site of Jackson High School until they grew out of it and built a new school on the other side of town.  When New Tribes purchased it, they were able to use the first floor for class rooms and offices, and convert the second, third and fourth floors into student housing.  The only downside to this is that because the building is classified as “historic” by the city, they were not allowed to make any structural changes, including plumbing.  That means that only a small portion of the apartments have running water.  Ours does not, but we are working on rigging up (in the fashion of my Aggie brethren) a sink with some water flow to ease the situation.

Leaves are only a seasonal obstruction
Leaves are only a seasonal obstruction

There is a swimming pool and a gym attached to the building so we can get some exercise during the frozen half of the year, and a cafeteria where we will likely eat lunch in between classes.

We registered for class yesterday.  It is exciting to have a feel for our schedule, finally. The curriculum is designed for each semester to have 15 hours of required courses and several electives to choose from.  The entire program is set up to teach you some of the core principals of understanding the Word (like hermeneutics), and to teach chronologically through the Bible.  We are very excited that by the end of our time here in Jackson, we will have studied every book of the Bible.  That’s one of the things I am beginning to love about this place: that the emphasis is not different philosophies or approaches or methods.  The emphasis is God’s Word.

Two days of orientation start tomorrow, and classes officially begin on Wednesday.  Please pray that we would be ready to go and eager to learn!  Please also pray for our fellow first semester students.  There are ten other married couples (some with children), and around fifty total students in our class.  Pray that each of us would be filled with God’s love and a passion to see His name proclaimed, and that we would be active in making an impact among the unchurched of this community while we are here.

Thanks for all you have done for us!