This past Sunday was kind of interesting in regard to staffing our Main Street program for children in grades 1-6 during the 9:40am service @ Hayward Wesleyan Church. This was the last day for “regular” teaching through our school year curriculum. Next week is our annual OREO Bible Quiz (a review of sorts for the year). And it is my practice to give the teachers the summers off, which in turn, renews them, and they want to come back and teach the next year! A great teacher retention practice, by the way!
Because this was our last “normal” Sunday before the summer hits, and it happened to be Memorial Day weekend, and for other random reasons, we were short almost every teacher. Our 1st grade teacher started her summer job a few weeks early, so the 2nd grade teacher was combining the 1st and 2nd grade together. Then the 2nd grade teacher this week was gone and had a substitute filling in. All good there!
Then our 3rd grade teacher had a trip the last 2 weeks so we combined the 3rd grade with the 4th grade and that teacher called on Saturday and went to his daughter’s basketball game out-of-town.
I normally teach the 5th and 6th grade guys, while another teachers does the girls for those 2 grades. So I had her take my boys while I took over the 3rd and 4th grade class.
It was a lot of switching around, but it worked fine, it just felt a little more hectic than normal. It’s just interesting when you add in a holiday weekend. Normally churches in cities and suburban areas are down on holiday weekend in attendance, but because we are a vacation destination area here in Hayward, WI, our attendance spikes on weekends like Memorial Day and throughout the summer.
I made a note to myself to remember (you’d think I’d have this figured out by now!) that Memorial Day brings in some extra numbers as well as some new families.
God’s people the Israelites are allowed, by decree of King Cyrus of Persia, to return to their homeland. Upon arrival they realize the extent of the devastation the exile had on the city of Jerusalem. They begin work on the Temple, slowly rebuilding it.
After a series of “evil” kings, the LORD God sends King Nebuchadnezzer of Babylon into the land of Judah and exiles its king and people. Later, King Neb destroys the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of the LORD.
For a period of 70 years, the people of Judah are in semi-permanent time-out.
King Josiah’s dad and grandfather were kings, and not very good kings at all. Josiah became king at the age of 8, and it wasn’t until the 18th year of his reign that in the process of repairing the Temple a scroll was discovered. It was the Book of the Law (the Torah). King Josiah was deeply saddened at how far God’s people had strayed from Him and had the people renew the covenant with the LORD.
King Hezekiah was a good king. He helped turn the idolatry of his fellow Israelites back to the LORD. During Hezekiah’s reign, the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians, which in turn, came knocking on Judah’s doorstep. The King and the people sought the LORD while under siege from Sennacherib, King of Assyria. The LORD rescued them from Sennacherib’s hand and spared them.
Jeroboam harasses Solomon, and ends up fleeing for his life.
Solomon’s successor to the throne of Israel is his son, Rehoboam. This young man chooses to defy the wishes of the people of Israel (to go easy on them as his father, Solomon, worked them hard).
Rehoboam tells them his finder is thicker than his father’s waist and they can expect to be worked harder!
Led by Jeroboam, the people of the North (Israel) divided from the people of the South (Judah and Benjamin), led by Rehoboam.
Thus the kingdom was divided in two.
We are also reminded that we, as God’s special people, have a big job to accomplish: to show the world what God is like (and what God might want this world to look like).
King David dies and his son, Solomon, assumes the throne. The LORD asks young Solomon what he could do for him. Solomon responds by asking for wisdom so he could rule well. The LORD is pleased with Solomon’s request and further grants him wealth and fame as well.
King Solomon wrote numerous proverbs and wise sayings. There is even an example of the application of his wisdom as he settled a dispute between two young mothers over a baby.
CLICK HERE to watch the video directly on vimeo, or press play via the embed link below:
King David decides to count his troops, realizes that was a bad decision (after the fact), has to choose one of three punishments, and buys the porch (threshold) where the plague stopped.
Interestingly, the “porch” that David bought became the sight where King Solomon placed the Temple.
It’s a little rated “R”. You see, Amnon, one of David’s sons was “in love” with his half-sister, Tamar (one of David’s daughters). Amnon pretended to be sick all in a ploy to get his father to invite Tamar in to take care of him. When he was alone with her, Amnon forced himself on his sister. After the despicable act, Amnon was filled with hatred toward Tamar – “as much hatred after as he had love before.”
Enter Absalom. Absalom was Tamar’s full brother (they had the same mom). Absalom took care of his sister because his father did nothing. Absalom absolved himself to kill Amnon for what he had done. Two years later Absalom had his revenge on Amnon, and fled the country. Three years later he returned to Jerusalem and began to woo his fellow countrymen into following him, then later declared himself king while his father fled.
Teaching in Main Street get’s a little tricky when we get to stories like these. The audience is filled with grades 1-6 students. So one has to approach stories like this with great care and wisdom. Feel free to watch the video of how I navigated this story with the large group.
I regularly teach the 5th and 6th grade boys, and this audience we can get in to the “trickier” parts of the story. After the large group teaching time, I sat down with the boys and we read out of the Bible what precipitated Absalom’s conspiracy (particularly the part about Amnon and Tamar). The boys were shocked. I asked them what they would tell their parents when they were asked: “What did you learn in Main Street today?” The boys didn’t know what to say.
I then shared with them the difference between prescriptive and descriptive elements of the biblical text. “What does prescription mean?” They knew this one. “Like medicine.” “Yep,” I said. “It helps you out, doesn’t it? Doctor prescribes you a solution to your problem and it will, hopefully, work out for you.”
“Does the Bible want you to rape your sister? Is this a prescription?” They knew the answer to this one as well: “No.”
“What does description mean?” This one confused them for a second until I shorted the word to describe. “Oh,” they said, “to dictate or share the unique qualities of a particular entity.” Okay, they didn’t say that exactly, but something like that! I had one of the students stand up and we described his appearance. They understood.
Then I gave them a scenario:
What if a person after reading the story of Amnon and Tamar proceeds to rape his sister. He is caught by the appropriate authorities after an investigation finds sufficient evidence for a trial. The perpetrator declines a lawyer because he wants to defend himself. At the trial, the defendant defends himself by reading 2 Samuel 13. He says, quite emphatically: ‘The Bible said it was okay!’
The Judge, dumbfounded, looks on the defendant with pity and says: ‘You idiot! Are you serious?!’
I then asked the 5th and 6th grade boys: “Did this guy get his prescriptive and descriptive mixed up?” Again, the young men get it: “Of course,” they confidently say, “the Bible isn’t telling us to do these things, it’s describing an unfortunate event that occurred that led to other unfortunate things that occurred.”
I smiled with pride. Lesson learned. We then went on to discuss how we can tell when a passage of Scripture is descriptive or prescriptive. We particularly tried to discern what might be prescriptive in such a traumatic story as the rape of Tamar.
These young men are really smart!
This story is rather violent in nature. A lot of killing takes place.
Click Here to watch the version of this story we did 3 years ago.