I don’t know about you, but I love a good story. When we were pastoring in Mirror, we had a group of old retired rail roaders in our church who were all in their 80s by this time. And they were the masters of telling a good story.
During our time at Mirror, the church began constructing a new church building – and for about a year, every day these guys would come to the work site and bring us coffee and snacks – and as we took our coffee breaks, they would regale us all kinds of captivating railroad stories. They’d tell us of train wrecks or unimaginable snow storms or being part of some old western movies. It was always fascinating to hear bits and pieces of their life stories.
Unfortunately, I’m not quite a master story teller like they were, but I’d sure like to give it a try. Today, and probably for the next several weeks, I want to tell you some stories.
You see, the Bible is an amazing storybook. It has got some of the most fascinating and unbelievable tales imaginable. And what makes it all the more fascinating, is that it’s all true! Although some of the stories are certainly hard to believe – the Bible is not a fantastic work of fiction. It is the true story of the Almighty, everlasting God interacting with the people that He created. It’s quite an incredible book!
And in the Bible we find a huge variety of different kinds of stories. There is a genre for everyone.
- If you like adventure, read the story of Joseph or King David or Esther – I always thought the book of Esther would make a fantastic movie!
- If you’re into history – read through the books of Kings and Chronicles.
- You want war – read through Joshua & the Judges – there’s some crazy stuff in there!
- If you like romance – read through the Song of Solomon (that’s got all kinds of that mushy stuff)
- If you like Poetry? Read the Psalms or even Job!
There is so much variety in the Bible. It’s like that opening scene from the Princess Bride where the Grandfather is about to read a book to his sick grandson. The Grandson, not convinced that books are very exciting, asks his grandfather, “Has it got any sports in it?”
And the Grandfather says, “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!”
And actually, that’s a pretty accurate description of the Bible! You can find all of those things in the stories of the Bible too! And of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! But the big difference between the Princess Bride and the Bible, as I’ve mentioned, is that the Bible is all true.
So I want to spend some time just reading through some of the amazing, true stories of the Bible – not just because they are great stories, but because there’s much that we can learn from them.
Remember, the Bible is really the story of God. It’s almost like his autobiography – it tells us how God has interacted with individuals and mankind as a whole throughout history. It shows us what God is like and how we are to interact with Him.
And so hopefully as we go through a few of these stories, we’ll get to know God in some new ways – we’ll have a better understand of who He is and how He works in the world – and perhaps most importantly, we’ll see how God still wants to have an personal relationship with each one of us even today.
The story that I want to share with you today is recorded in the book of Numbers – chapter 22 to be specific. And before we get started, let me give you a little bit of the background so you know what’s going on.
At this point in history, the nation of Israel has been wandering around in the wilderness for nearly 40 years. You’ll recall that shortly after the exodus from Egypt, after crossing the Red Sea and receiving the ten commandments, the Israelites were supposed to go in and conquer the Promised Land. However, because they refused to trust in God, God told them that they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years – until every adult male had died. Because of their disbelief, they would never enter God’s promised land, but it would be their children who would go in and conquer & settle in the Promised Land!
So at this point, those 40 years of wandering were almost over! But it hadn’t been easy! They had face a lot of opposition along the way. In fact, they had just been attacked by King Shihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan. They were just trying to pass through the territories of these kings – in fact, they had even sent messages asking for permission to pass through peacefully, but these kings decided to attack them instead! However, God was with them and the Israelites completely wipe out the armies of King Shihon and King Og. In fact, Numbers chapter 21 concludes with these verses: