Introduction: Put yourself in the place of God. Imagine that you
just created humans, and that you wanted to give them some sort of
operator’s manual. What would you write? What would be your main
goal in writing? Would you give them a list of rules? Would you
tell them stories about living? Would you tell them stories about
you? This quarter our study is the background figures in the Old
Testament. They are part of the story that God is telling us about
how we should live. This week we consider the general goal of God’s
storytelling. Let’s dive into our study and find out more!

  1. God’s Goals

    1. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What do you think “God-breathed”

      1. What else do you think about when you consider the
        breath of God? (Read Genesis 2:7 – God breathed life
        into Adam. Genesis 1 reports God speaking the world
        into existence. Clearly, the power of God is in the

      2. What does 2 Timothy 3:16-17 indicate are God’s goals
        in communicating to us through the Bible? (To equip
        us for God’s work.)

        1. What equipment do we need? (We need to be
          taught, trained, rebuked and corrected.)

          1. Did you ever consider that getting rebuked
            and corrected are good for you? (Read
            Proverbs 12:1. If we love correction we
            love knowledge. If we hate correction we
            are stupid.)

    2. Read Hebrews 4:12. What other valuable benefit do we find
      in God’s word? (Scriptures cut through the nonsense in
      our lives and reveal to us our true thoughts and

    3. Read 2 Samuel 12:1-4. What do you think about the rich

    4. Read 2 Samuel 12:5-6. What was David’s verdict on the
      rich man? (That he deserved to die!)

    5. Read 2 Samuel 12:7. Do you think that David would have
      come to this same conclusion if he had just been shown
      some rules?

      1. How did a story help to cut through the nonsense in
        David’s life and reveal his true thoughts and
        attitudes? (If you do not know this story, Nathan
        gives a thumbnail sketch in 2 Samuel 12:9-10.)

  2. Story Lines

    1. As we have seen, a story helps cut through our defenses
      and reveals our sinful actions and attitudes. How many
      stories go through your mind each week?

      1. Does this have something to do with how much you
        read? (Not necessarily. We see stories all around
        us. When we observe people, we are taking in a

      2. Consider the weakness in your life. Common
        weaknesses are dishonesty, infidelity, pride, and
        addiction. When you see a person who has the same
        weaknesses as you get into trouble because of it,
        what is your reaction?

        1. Let’s say that you are considering stealing or
          being unfaithful to your spouse. You see
          someone who is arrested for stealing or a
          family destroyed by an affair. What does that
          “story” teach you? (It shows your future if you
          continue on your present course! If you are
          not stupid, you will turn away and avoid that

    2. Read Job 1:1-3. Imagine that you are sitting around a
      campfire and someone begins telling this story. Put out
      of your mind what you already know about the Job. Would
      you like to be Job? (He sounds like the most blessed
      perfect person!)

    3. Read Job 1:4-5. What kind of attitude did Job have
      towards his children? (He loved and cared for them. He
      was concerned about their eternal destiny.)

    4. Read Job 1:6-8. How would you characterize the
      relationship between God and Satan based on what you
      learn from these verses? (Competitive. Satan is bragging
      about his kingdom. God is bragging about one of His
      subjects in Satan’s kingdom.)

      1. What is Job’s attitude about God and about Satan?
        (God says that Job “fears” (respects) God and he
        “shuns” (dislikes) Satan.)

        1. How would you react if you were Satan? (Who
          likes to be told that someone does not like

    5. Read Job 1:9-12. What plot do we find? (That God and
      Satan are in a contest, and Job is at the center of the

    6. Read Job 1:18-19. What other plot do we find in the
      middle of the larger plot? (That the man to be most
      envied is now the man to be most pitied. How will he
      react? What will be his future?)

    7. Why is God telling us this story?

      1. What “operator’s manual” lessons can we learn from

  3. An Uncertain Road

    1. Read Joshua 3:9. Where are we in the history of Israel?
      (They have left slavery and Egypt, have crossed the
      desert, and are about to enter the land that God has
      promised to them. It is a new beginning and a time of
      great opportunity.)

    2. Read Joshua 3:10. What challenges and problems lay ahead?
      (The land is occupied by other people who are not
      interested in moving.)

      1. What solution does God offer to that problem? (God
        says that He will drive these people out of the

        1. What do you think God means by that? Would He
          literally do it Himself?

    3. Read Joshua 3:11-17. This is a story for all of Israel to
      see. What is the point of the story?

      1. What does the story say about driving the
        inhabitants out of the land? (Look again at Joshua
        3:11. The symbol of God’s presence led the way and
        overrode the laws of nature. All the priests had to
        do was lead, and all the people had to do was
        follow. I would conclude that God could drive the
        people out of the land with only minimal “help” from

      2. What does this story teach us about the faith of
        Israel – or at least its leadership? (The priests
        had the faith to walk into “flood stage” waters!)

    4. Read Judges 17:1-2. What do you think about Micah? (He is
      a thief. He would steal from his own mother. Perhaps he
      became concerned about the curse uttered by his mother,
      so he returned the silver.)

      1. Notice that Mom now says, “Lord Bless you, my son.”
        Is that what you would say when your son stole money
        from you, but ended up giving it back? (You don’t
        want to curse your own son – so I guess this puts
        him back on neutral ground.)

      2. How much silver did the mother have? (Eleven hundred
        shekels of silver.)

        1. Read Judges 16:4-6. Is this unnamed woman
          Delilah? (The flow of the story and the amount
          of the money suggest that it is possible.)

    5. Read Judges 17:3-4. Is the mother a spiritual woman?
      (When the text says “Lord” it means “Jehovah.” This woman
      intended to worship the true God.)

      1. What is wrong? (Read Exodus 20:4-6. God had
        expressly prohibited this kind of worship.)

    6. Read Judges 17:5-6. What does this suggest is the
      problem? (When we studied Romans 13 in our last series of
      lessons, we learned that God is the author of established
      authority. Israel had no king. People did what they
      thought was best. Apparently, this was without even the
      most basic understanding of God’s will.)

    7. What does this story teach us about church leadership?

      1. What does it teach us about the road the Israelites
        had taken? (They started out crossing the Jordan
        river in faith. Somehow, their organization and
        their knowledge of God had so deteriorated that they
        thought making silver idols was the best approach to
        worshiping God.)

      2. Read Judges 8:27. Gideon is a great warrior for God.
        What do we see here? (That he is corrupting the
        worship of the true God.)

        1. What does this teach us? (That even great faith
          warriors can get off track. We need to
          constantly be alert to God’s will.)

    8. Friend, will you continue with us as we study the stories
      God has placed before us in the Old Testament?

  4. Next week: Caleb: Living With the Wait.