Hey everyone, it’s been a while since my last update, so sorry for that!
Spring has sprung!
This term has been a whirlwind of work and growth. In my last update, I mentioned we had begun studying the Old Testament. Now, we’ve studied: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. So many books! I will try to give some highlights:
- The Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) is the ‘core’ of the Old Testament, upon which many Jews base their beliefs. (PS. I learned that “Jews” are descended from the tribe of Judah, whereas the term “Israelites” are representative of all the 12 tribes of Israel. So, in light of that, in the Old Testament it would be correct to address the people involved as Israelites if they are the descendants of Israel, or Jacob as he was formerly known, and in the New Testament, you would call them Jews because all the other tribes besides Judah’s had essentially been wiped out and scattered amongst the nations).
- Leviticus Week was both challenging and eye-opening. Anyone who has opened Leviticus knows that it’s not an easy read! Essentially Leviticus is a collection of the Levitical laws that the Levites and the Israelites had to keep so that they could have close relationship with God. I think I really gained a better understanding for why the Israelites had so many laws. When humans were originally created by God, they were pure, sinless, blameless. However, when sin was introduced to the world, the worst outcome from that was the separation between humans and God. This was what Leviticus was all about; providing a way that God and humans could begin to come together in relationship again. One way we tried to understand this was to try living by Levitical Law the whole week. It was more challenging for the women than the men, but still a challenge! We wore signs all week saying whether we were clean or unclean that day, and had to follow through with the purification ritual dependant on what caused us to be unclean (ie. if I touched a certain unclean object, I might just need to shower and be ‘unclean’ until evening, however other things required sacrifice, so people who needed to ‘sacrifice’ something had to give up something of significant value for the time).
- Throughout the journey through the Old Testament, it’s actually been quite frustrating and humbling at times just how faithful God was to His chosen people. He gave them so many chances, opportunity after opportunity. He was faithful and He was gracious. His people rejected Him over and over again, but when they did turn back to Him, He had open arms for them, ready to receive His children back home.
- The book of Judges is both easy and hard to read. It’s very difficult to see how quickly things can spin out of control when God isn’t a part of people’s lives!
- I really loved reading Samuel and Kings because they are like the “Acts” of the Old Testament! What I mean by this is that in the New Testament, the book of Acts covers about a 30 year period after Christ’s death and resurrection, and many of the letters of the New Testament can be aligned with events in the book of Acts. So is the book of Kings. Many of the Prophets (which we will be studying this next term) can be found, or can be matched with events found in the book. It’s really cool to see how things come together like this! Our assignment for the week was to make a timeline with all the different people and events that occurred, not only explicitly stated, but also important events that happened during the time. It was quite the extensive timeline, but I enjoyed seeing how people overlapped and how things fit together. We had to map out the Pharaohs of Egypt, the kings of Assyria, Aram (Syria), and Babylon. We also mapped out the kings of Israel and Judah, as well as all the prophets (those who wrote books, but also those mentioned in the narrative that didn’t have books written). We also made note of important wars, collapses of nations, etc. At the end of the week, we celebrated with a king's banquet, where we all had to dress up as a character from the book of Kings, and act as if we were such a person.
Our speaker (and school leader) used a massive map to help illustrate where different people groups were during the reign of the kings - it really helped us to understand how different groups grew or shrank, and how they moved about.
- One last book I want to make note of is Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon, depending on the translation) - I really enjoyed the teaching of the book, and finally have a better understanding of how God designed a marital relationship between a man and a woman. The New Testament speaks to the culture of the time, and there are many (wrong) interpretations to the text. Genesis also touches on the relationship between a man and a woman, but it wasn’t wholly clear until we studied Song of Songs!
A frosty morning at The Kings Lodge
Not only has it been a term of studying, I was able to travel a bit too! Myself, 3 others from my program, and 1 guy from the DTS (Discipleship Training School) rented a car and travelled to Wales for our long weekend. It was a blast exploring the Welsh “mountains” and castles, as well as just spending time with each other!
Some of us had a testimony-sharing time to get to know each other better!
The weather warmed up quite a bit so we could do homework outside!
I had the opportunity to help lead worship at a British Sign Language Church I’ve been attending in Birmingham! (https://wordofhands.org.uk/)
One week, our small group went to the zoo, as they have a cafe where you don’t have to pay to enter the zoo proper, but you can still see snow leopards through the glass! Anyone knowing me growing up knows I had a great fascination for all animals, and that still holds true to a certain extent these days haha
I also got the chance to visit a good friend of mine in Germany, and to meet his fiance! It was a crazy trip; with a 65 km bike ride in Germany and France, driving through the Swiss Alps to Italy for 1 night (then back the next day), as well as meeting up with some friends that just finished their DTS at The Kings Lodge a few weeks ago! Crazy, but I had an amazing time! (Not to mention, but the food was superb as well: German sausages, pretzels and Black Forest Cake in Germany, Swiss chocolates and Swiss Cheese fondue from Switzerland, Crepes in France, and loads of Italian pastas, pizzas, bread, and other baked goods in Italy). It’s a good thing I don’t live in those regions of Europe!
We cycled along the River Rhine one day
At the Milan Cathedral
Driving through the Swiss Alps
In Luzerne, Switzerland with my friend and his fiance
Met up with some YWAM friends and explored Freiburg and the nearby mountains!
- Some of my classmates still need funds for next term, please pray that God provides all they need! He has already provided so much that everyone was able to complete this past term!
- Continual renewed excitement and vigor to study each book, it can feel like the same thing, and I don’t want it to turn into that! Each book holds so many new things!
Thank you for reading, and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions!