ADVERTISING
 
Wednesday, October 23   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Society
Should Christians join social protests?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Peter Mead
 

Thousands of people

Perhaps we too easily skim over the more minor characters that fill the pages of our Bibles?

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTHOR Peter Mead 07 OCTOBER 2019 16:40 h GMT+1
Photo: Rod Long. Unsplash (CC0).

When we read the Bible we tend to gravitate to the “big names” – Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and Paul. Perhaps there are another fifty characters that get significant attention in our churches. 



But there are at least another thousand people mentioned by name, some counts going much higher. (Forgive me for not researching this number myself for this post!) 



Perhaps we too easily skim over these more minor characters that fill the pages of our Bibles?



There are at least three benefits that can come as we focus in on the more minor characters of the Bible:



1. The fact that they are noticed, noted and named is an encouragement in itself. Most of us don’t feel like major characters in the epic history of God’s great plan as it is being worked out in our generation.  We know we are minor characters. 



And if we have our eyes open to see the minor characters in the Bible, then we can be encouraged to know that our small part in God’s big plan also matters.



2. Whenever we see any detail about a character in the Bible we will tend to see them involved in real life situations (since that is the nature of God’s inspired Word) – and consequently we can see both good and bad examples that can be so helpful for us in our contemporary circumstances.



It would be naïve to think that there is nothing to learn from the many examples presented in Scripture, but it would also be a real shame to stop at mere example.



3. God inspired the Bible so that the characters in it are more than examples to copy or learn from, they are also part of a story that is pointing the reader to God – his redemptive character and plan. The Bible is not a collection of historical tales with good moral lessons to be gleaned.  It is God’s self-revelation to a world that desperately needs what only God can offer.



Let’s look at an example. Elizabeth only appears in one chapter in the Bible (Luke 1). It is a story with two or three major characters, as well as two very significant babies, and Elizabeth is relatively minor in comparison. 



There is the angel Gabriel bringing a message to Zechariah in the temple, and then several months later to young teenage Mary in Nazareth.  Two very different recipients, in two very different locations, with two significantly different responses. 



Then in the second half of the chapter we see two great exclamations of praise – first Mary’s “Magnificat” and then Zechariah’s “Benedictus.”  These two passages are triggered by two events. 



For Zechariah it is the birth of his son John, and the reinstatement of his voice.  For Mary it is the declaration of Elizabeth when the two mothers-to-be met.



What can we legitimately learn from looking at Elizabeth in Luke 1?  First of all, let’s evaluate some of the observations we might make.  It is right to observe the details in the text, but not every observation should be applied in our lives. 



Some things were specific and not intended to function by way of example for us. Generally, the more we know our Bibles the easier we will find it to not apply observed details inappropriately. 



For instance, the rest of the Bible does not teach people to go into hiding when they discover they are pregnant. Nor does it support the idea that when a child moves inside the womb we should interpret the significance of that movement prophetically.



However, the rest of the Bible would support several possible observations from this passage:



1. God hears and answers prayer, even if the years have passed and hope has apparently dissipated, God hears and answers prayer. We should continue to trust in God’s goodness and God’s plan.  (See Luke 1:13)



2. Every moment matters:  Elizabeth, like most characters in the Bible, is offered to us in light of one incident in her life. What about the other 60 or 70 years?  God noticed and noted their blameless living (see Luke 1:6).  While our righteous choices don’t earn, they do matter.



3. Our most significant role may still be future: Elizabeth supported her priestly husband faithfully over the years. This was her ministry.  But then, out of the blue, came a role she never anticipated – she was to be the mother of the forerunner of the Messiah. 



That role is finished, but it is fair to say our most significant moment of ministry may be completely unknown to us and still future.



4. For those of us who are parents, our most significant ministry may well be the children we raise: This passage, like many others in the Bible, underlines the significance of the children God gives to us.



We live in a world that may seem desperate to protect children (at least those who have been born), but it is a world that constantly undermines the value of parenting.  Time in passages like Luke 1 will reinforce our confidence that time invested in our little ones is time well spent.



These are some biblically supportable observations from the story of Elizabeth.  But these are somewhat at the level of surface observation, even if the points are theologically important. 



What does the text itself underline for the careful reader?



Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. This article first appeared on his blog Biblical Preaching.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Thousands of people
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’ IFES World Assembly: ‘Messengers of Hope’

Students, graduates and staff of the global evangelical student movement reflected together on how the books of Luke and Acts apply to today's universities.

 
Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission Christians at work - the missing link in fulfilling the Great Commission

Photos of the Lausanne Movement Global Workplace Forum, celebrated in Manila.

 
European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference European Freedom Network Bridge 2019 conference

Images of the fifth EFN gathering. Experts, activists, counsellors and church leaders met in Pescara, Italy.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Algerian Christians worship God as police arrives to close church Algerian Christians worship God as police arrives to close church

Video of the moment police officers enter a Protestant evangelical church near Tizi-Ouzou to close it. Church members do not stop singing, and peacefully resist later.

 
Porn exploits victims of human trafficking Porn exploits victims of human trafficking

The European Freedom Network launches a new anti-trafficking campaign: “You have no way of knowing if the porn you are looking at is from someone who chose to be there or not”.

 

 

 
What makes humans different to artificial intelligence machines? What makes humans different to artificial intelligence machines?

David Glass, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science at Ulster University (Northern Ireland) analyses whether a computer can have emotions or a conscious experience.

 
A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees A tent of hope for Venezuelan refugees

Thousands still cross the border to Colombia every week, and many continue on foot into the interior. Christian young people have set up an aid station along the road.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.