Friday, January 23, 2015

Sabbath School Starter — 2015 Q1 L4

The Beginning of Wisdom 

From Dave's Sabbath School Resource page
Truth, naked and cold, had been turned away from every door in the village. Her nakedness frightened the people. When Parable found her she was huddled in a corner, shivering and hungry. Taking pity on her, Parable gathered her up and took her home. There, she dressed Truth in story, warmed her and sent her out again. Clothed in story, Truth knocked again at the doors and was readily welcomed into the villagers' houses. They invited her to eat at their tables and warm herself by their fires.    -- Jewish Teaching Story
To explore this idea more fully, read “A Story Like Jesus” on my blog.
Two Types of Travellers
Read Proverbs 1:20, 8:1-4, 9:1-6
Where is she shouting from? Whose attention is Wisdom trying to get?
What kind of woman is she? What has she been doing? What is she preparing for?
Who is likely to be drawn to her calls?
Who is likely to resist? Why?

Read Proverbs 9:13-18
Where is she shouting from? Whose attention is Folly trying to get?
What kind of woman is she? What has she been doing? What is she preparing for?
Who is likely to be drawn to her calls?
Who is likely to resist? Why?

The battle for the mind is a territorial war over common ground—a walk through town—not the high places or the deep places. Both Wisdom and Folly approach the common person in everyday life, hoping to unsettle their step on the gentle rise and fall of daily terrain. It is the little steps—the small choices of attention, focus and interest—that lead toward the embrace of one or the other, Folly or Wisdom. The mind is formed first in infancy through baby steps, then in toddler tumbling and finally in practice, practice, practice. The big successes and mistakes are really not so big at all but simply the destinations reached by consistent trudging in one direction day after day.

Read Proverbs 8:17 and 36
What is the result of loving Wisdom? What does this look like in real life?
What is the result of hating Wisdom? What does this look like in real life?

Reflect on the Jewish teaching story from the top of this discussion guide.
“Truth wrapped in story (parable) is loved and embraced by common people.”
How did the teaching style and content of Jesus illustrate this?
How does the idea of “Truth wrapped in Story” help you approach the book of Proverbs?
How does it give you pause at each pithy parable and short story that pass so quickly in this book of Wisdom?

Three Worldviews

In the past 50 year or so, the western world has been shifting worldviews from Modern to the Post-Modern. As the Modern (Industrial/Scientific) Worldview developed and strengthened from the 1700’s until the mid-1900’s its adherents learned that truth was provable. The Scientific Method was born and—as much as we twist, turn, squish and squirm—in most areas of life, you and I understand the world (think/believe) using this worldview. In the Modern worldview, truth is provable. The Scientific Method tells us, when we receive new information, to create a theory, test it, retest it forming proof, show our proof (and entire working process) to others in order to demonstrate that what we are teaching is TRUTH because it is verifiable and reproducible.

The Post-Modern worldview is so named because, largely, it is a reaction to the excesses of the Modern worldview. Science as truth led to some amazing discoveries (vaccines, air travel, global communication) but it also deposited a post-apocalyptic wasteland in its wake because PROOF=TRUTH needs no conscience or compassion. Right is right. Right? Not for Post-Moderns. Your right may be provable and reproducible but it may be very wrong indeed. While it is easy to demonstrate what the Post-Modern mindset stands against, it is difficult to articulate it as a worldview that stands on its own. For the Post-Modern: Truth, to be believed, must be experienced.

The Proverbs were written to a world and within a worldview completely different than anything around today. To understand the Bible and Proverbs particularly (due to their direct, truncated format) it is immeasurably helpful to understand the world and worldview of that day. There are many books available on this topic. Have a look at last week’s study guide for a quick intro. In a nutshell the Ancient Biblical Worldview was that all reality (truth included) is brought forth from God and then God commissions His creation to bring forth more of its kind. I call it the God-begat Worldview.

God begat Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22) then God begat Creation (Genesis 1:1). Creation (earth/ground) begat flora (Genesis 1:11,2:9) and Fauna (Genesis 1:24, 2:19); Mankind was brought forth from the ground (Genesis 2:7); Adam and Eve begat children; They begat children until Abraham begat Jacob (Israel); And, in time, Israel begat the Messiah—Jesus the only begotten Son of God. See how it works?

Humanity, created by God in the Image of God, has the special task to begat children not just physically but spiritually—shaping them in the image of God. That’s why the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) is important—as we explored last week. Likewise, Proverbs teaches us, our nature continues forming after we leave our place of nurture. Lady Wisdom calls us from her well-built house and invites us to enter in. God is proposing a life-long relationship with us. “I commissioned your parents to begat you, then to shape you as you went in and out of their house. Now I want you to join with me so that my Glory might be made complete in you.”

Yeah, it can be a bit weird thinking about God as a Lover. He doesn’t shy away from it, though. He created us. He knows how we think. And He wants us close. Close enough to keep us away from Folly—she’s calling as well.  

So, that’s the God-begat Worldview. It’s a bit science and a bit love-story. It’s almost Modern or Post-Modern… but, it’s not. To avoid altering our worldview, we go through the Bible squeezing, chopping, sanitizing, fluffing and cherry-picking verses to suit us. Imagine if we stopped forcing God to fit into our worldview and invited Him to fit us into His. It’s not easy to change worldviews. It requires letting go. And holding on. If we resist the temptation to make God in our image, He will be able to continue making us in His.

The Beginning of Wisdom

Read Proverbs 9:9-12
These are Wisdom’s final words. What touches you most deeply? Why?
Verse 9 & 10 are set between Wisdom and Folly, portrayed as two women. If we succumb to her calls, what will we begat with each woman? How are these two verses the key to choosing the right woman?

Proverbs chapter 9 is the conclusion of the Wisdom letters. The rest of the book of Proverbs is filled with the short pithy sayings we typically think of when we talk about Proverbs. We have set a foundation—a worldview—for Wisdom. Wisdoms teaching is only truly useful, the short one-liners are only truly meaningful and accurate, if we build them on the understanding that “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom.” Then it will all make sense.

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