Preaching and the Bible Neighbourhood 2

Yesterday I suggested we need to help listeners know the key landmarks.  This takes repetition and emphasis.  We can’t assume that one time over anything will make it stick.  So as we preach, let’s look for ways to flag up key locations in the canon.  This can be done by character, by key event (giving of a covenant, exile, etc.), or by passage (people should know that Genesis 12 is critical, and Exodus 19, and 2Samuel 7, and Jeremiah 31, etc.)

But we also need to …

2. Help them join the dots.  This is like learning to get from the grocery store to the office.  I could go from home to both, but I needed to figure out how to go from one to the other.  Learning your way around a city is often about joining the dots without home being the starting point.  The same is true in the Bible.

I am not suggesting that we should be preaching chains of references and safari hunts of cross-texts.  This doesn’t help do much but numb listeners.  But when appropriate, we should help people see why putting Moses in the context of Abraham is important.  Or why the New Covenant promised in the midst of the failure of Israel under the Old Covenant matters.  Or why Ruth being in the time of the Judges makes a difference.

And then, of course, what about the thematic development of Old Testament promises and ideas right the way through to the New Testament?  While there are some bizarre links being made from Old Testament to Jesus, we must not miss the intended ones.  The Bible has a unity and so it is not illegitimate to pursue the genuine connections that are present.

This is not a free ticket to speculative connections of common terms, etc.  This is an encouragement to know the Bible well, and to help others become familiar with it.  They don’t need to be instant experts (you and I are still learning too), but it is good for them to have confidence that they can open it, read it, and have a decent sense of what is going on and why it matters to the bigger story.

Tomorrow, I’ll add another suggestion . . .

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