“Settings”: A Lenten Reflection

If you have ever taken an English Literature class, you would be familiar with the idea of “SETTING”. For an author, the story takes place within a context created by the author. In every story, there is some time period (past, present or future) there is a location (local or the outer reaches of the universe), and there is the personal nature of the characters within the story. These aspects combine to form the “setting” of the story. Even when we read the Scriptures, Ole Testament and New Testament, we cannot escape the principle of SETTING. The Bible is, after all, God’s story of God’s love and involvement in human history. The setting for Scriptures is not though a place or time, but the human experience. The God of “Adam and Eve” is the same God of you and I. God is no less involved with the human experiences of modern times than God was involved in ancient times. The “stories” in Scripture follow the general rules of setting, i.e. time, places, events, etc. But the “STORY” of Scripture transcends the snippets of human events.

In every “good” story, there needs to be “main” characters. Usually there is the “antagonist” (bad guy) and the “protagonist” (good guy). In Scriptures, there is one consistent antagonist – The Evil One; but there is a development of the character of the real protagonist – The Christ. The first “good guy” is Adam, but he quickly succumbs to the whiles of Satan, and disappears from the story. Next, we have Noah, but eventually he falls away and eventually replaced with Abram (who became Abraham). The character Abram (Abraham) goes through a series of trials until he faces the ultimate challenge – sacrificing his only son Isaac. Abraham proves worthy and becomes the Patriarch of God’s chosen people. Abraham’s son and grandsons were not as careful in their trust in God, and eventually fell into a long period of slavery in Egypt. Eventually we are introduced to Moses, who is to lead Israel out of slavery (physical and moral) to become people of the Promised Land. Moses is good, faithful, and strong, but he was also weak and not allowed to lead Israel into the Promised Land; that was a task for Joshua. Through the centuries (the period of the Judges) Israel would experience the whole array of strong and weak leaders until King David.

King David, like Abraham, was not a character without serious sins. King David was though, like Abraham, in a relationship with God that made David care that he had offended God. When confronted with his sins, David was horrified. Not that he had been caught, but by what he had actually done. King David expressed more grief over the causes of (David’s sin) God’s anger, than he expressed over the consequences he would suffer. Because of this deep and personal relationship between the man David and God, God promises David that a son of his (David’s) would rule over Israel for all time (2Sam 7:12-17). And, from King Rehoboam, until the Maccabean Period, Israel and Judah would suffer under the cruelest punishments because of disastrous kings; ultimately ending in Exile from the Promised Land.  (to be continued)