Sometimes I get the sense that I don’t understand what’s going on in the Bible because I don’t understand the history or culture that it’s written in. I keep applying the Bible to my life, but sometimes because I’m missing out on cultural nuances, I’ll discover that I might be applying it the wrong way. To counteract that feeling, I’ve become a student of ancient history. I want to know what the Bible means, and I want to know what it means by what it meant to it’s audience.
Because of this desire, when I received the opportunity to review Ray Vander Laan’s Israel’s Mission Discovery Guide with DVD: A Kingdom of Priests in a Prodigal World (That the World May Know), I was excited to get to dig in and learn more about the Bible. This is the thirteenth volume of the That the World May Know Series, a series of DVDs and Bible study guides that are dedicated to helping you enrich your knowledge of the Bible by allowing you to experience the Bible in it’s historical context.
Written for small group study, the theme of Israel’s Mission is redemption and restoration and on our role in helping to restore a lost world back into “the Father’s house.” This is a five-session Bible study and these five sessions are:
- Abraham and Sarah and Three Strangers
- Israel at Sinai: The First Great Commission
- Jesus Renews His Mission: Seeking the Lost
- The Lost Son: In a Far Country
- The Seeking Father: The Lost Son Returns
As you can see, all these sessions are about people being away from the kingdom and our role in bringing them back into God’s family. The discovery guide that goes along with the DVD goes more in-depth on historical background and has discussion questions for group time. The guide also has in-depth Bible study, exploring the passages mentioned in the video teaching lectures, and expanding upon them through five homework lessons per small group session.
Ray Vander Laan’s lecture style on the DVDs is very easily understandable as well as very penetrating in the culture of the Bible and the words contained therein. We watched these videos as a family, and my ten year old was just as interested in the lessons as my husband and I were. Vander Laan is a very engaging teacher.
I also really appreciated the way that he used examples to color our understanding of what words that we see frequently in the Bible. One of my favorites from the first video was when he was explaining what the birthright was in a patriarchal culture. He compared it to your oldest receiving lots of presents for Christmas and your other children only receiving little bags of candy. Yet the younger children are dancing around excited because the gifts given to the oldest child mean that they’re taken care of.
Vander Laan related this concept to Abraham, but he also applied it to God. He is our Father. We live in his house and are under his care. The lost sheep of the world are out of the Father’s house and he is willing to use whatever resources he needs to to bring them back in.
As I mentioned, these themes are all reinforced for the Bible study participant throughout the wonderful discovery guide that is a part of the Bible study, and everything is high-quality and well done. It’s also easy to follow as you go about your study each week. I found that not only did I feel a deep heart tug towards what it truly means to be a “child of God,” but I also found my heart breaking for those who were outside the Father’s house, needing to be brought back in and restored to the family.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the discovery guide and DVD from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.