Friday, May 27, 2011

Deuteronomy 31 - Be Strong and Courageous

LINK: Deuteronomy 31

We have a Bible Study Tool Time today: Character Study


BACKGROUND


Moses was 120 years old, and he reminded the people that he would not enter the Promised Land. They were reminded to "be strong and courageous" (31:6) because the Lord was with them and with the newly commissioned leader, Joshua.


The priests were reminded to read the whole law every seven years at the Feast of Booths to the whole congregation of Israel so that they and the generations to come might hear, learn, fear the Lord, and be careful to observe all the words of the Law.


Again, God reminded Moses that the people will rebel with bitter consequences for them.


REFLECTION

I have been reflecting quite a bit on what I have learned from Moses' life as I read his last words. We have been walking with Moses since Exodus.  What have you learned from his life?


It is funny because coinciding with this, my prayer book had a verse of prayer to be "like Moses in how he did all the Lord commanded," and even a book from the Renaissance period that I read this week (The Prince by Machiavelli) referred to Moses as an example of leadership to emulate! I call that Providential!


In addition to the chapter studies we do daily on the Bible Book Club, I like to do a "character study" sometimes in order to summarize principles from a person's life that I might apply to my own.


Here is a short primer on how to do character studies adapted from How to Study Your Bible by Kay Arthur.


Character Studies - Learning from the Lives of Others


1. Gather All Information on the Character


You can do this from a concordance, topical Bible, or cross-reference system in your Bible. In the life of Moses, we do not need to do this because we already know his life is spotlighted from Exodus 1 to the end of Deuteronomy!


2. Read and Make Notes of Main Truths


As you do, look for things like the following:


* Meaning of name -- In Scripture, the meaning of a person's name is sometimes (but not always) significant.  
For example, Moses means "to draw out of water." 
* Ancestry -- Who were the character's father, mother, tribe, and nation? 
For example, Moses was born an Israelite, but raised an Egyptian. This gave him a unique perspective and also created considerable difficulties for him.
* Training and conversion -- What caused the character to turn toward God, or to turn away from Him? What was this person's upbringing like, where did it occur? Ask the 5 W's (who, what, when, where, why) and an H (how) about his/her life.
* Times lived in, number of years lived, periods of life --  
For example, Moses had three significant 40 year periods. 
* Shortcomings and accomplishments 
Shortcomings: Moses did not think he could speak to Pharaoh. He hit the rock instead of speaking to it. 
Accomplishments: He stood up to Pharaoh. He led the Israelites out of Egypt. He gave them the God's Law. 
* Spiritual life -- What about the character's prayer life, obedience, suffering, and personal lessons learned from God, attitudes, responses, reactions? 
* Scripture that can be used as cross-references to illustrate spiritual principles -- Discovering these references will become easier as we study the Bible! 

* Effect of his/her life on others.

* The way he/she died and the impact of his/her death.

3. Check Extra-Biblical References

After you have read all you can on your own from the Bible, check out a good Bible dictionary or other reference books to see what they have to say about the person you are studying.


4. Compile Your Material


Organize the truths you have discovered depending on the emphasis you choose to make. You could organize it:
* Chronologically from birth to death. 
* According to major events in the person's life. 
* According to principles of life and ministry. Example: Moses the intercessor, Moses the leader.


5. Apply Truth to Your Own Life (make an "I WILL" statement) 


Using the first person (I, me, my) list or write out in some detail the major truths God has taught you. 

For example:

* I know that to be used of God I must be taught of God as Moses was. Therefore, "I WILL" saturate myself in God's Word every morning, praying for God to teach me, listening to His voice, and obeying what He says. I will keep a journal of what God speaks to me through His Word. This will be my daily "Listen and Obey" time like Mary Gheegh in God Guides.
* I might be in a hurry to do God's work, as was Moses (Acts 7:23-25), but God is not in a hurry. First, He must equip and prepare me until I see that only God can do God's work.
APPLICATION

What have you learned from Moses' life that you would like to apply? What is your "I WILL" for today?



2014 Update: I wrote this post 6 years ago during the first cycle of the Bible Book Club. As I am editing these old posts, I am also in a storytelling group, and we just told the story of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Perfect timing. My "I WILL" is to pray that God directs me to the people who need to hear this story.


PRAYER


Lord, teach us what You want us to learn from the life of Moses. Help us to be strong and courageous in all that You have set out for us today. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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