By Elizabeth Prata
Virgil Walker and DB Harrison have a podcast called “Just Thinking“. They discuss cultural issues of the day and instruct listeners how to think about them biblically. They are big on thinking. The men do an excellent job of showing how to think through biblical concepts.
I am big on thinking too. We should read the Bible every day. And not just read it but at least some of the time we should think deeply about what we read. Meditate on it. To do that we ask questions as we read. Why is that phrase there? What does that word mean? What does an acacia tree look like? What does this metaphor about an ox being muzzled mean? And then spend some time finding the answers. I like BibleHub, GotQuestions, looking up parallel verses, and reading a larger context before and after the pertinent verses, to help me.
Other times, we just read it and then RE-read it. Then stop to think. This is what I did the other day and here was my thinking process.
They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed; now he was living in Sodom. Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was dwelling by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were in a covenant with Abram. So Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, and he led out his trained men, born in his house, 318 in number, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
In Genesis 13, just one chapter prior, Abraham and Lot had separated. One took his flocks one direction and the other man took his in the opposite direction. They settled. The Bible is 7000 years of actual history and in order to put it all in one book, the timing of things is conflated. We read chapter 13 and go to 14 and think it’s a few days later because the events being described are successive. What we might visualize in our minds is Abraham and Lot not much older or not much time had passed. But there IS a clue to how much time had passed.
In the passage above, there is a phrase we should pay attention to. “Born in his house.” Let’s put 2 and 2 together. Abraham sent his trained men out to rescue Lot from the king that had grabbed him. The men who were trained had been “born in his house”. Three hundred and eighteen men had been born under Abraham’s headship and had been trained and were ready to go out to battle. So that means these men must have been at least 15 or 20 years old. THAT’S how much time had passed.
And indeed Abram was 70 when he got the call from God in Ur, and 86 when the covenant between God and Abraham happens (seen in the next chapter) so that at least is a passage of time of 16 years when Uncle Abraham goes out to get Lot.
I find the best way to put insights together is to read slowly, or several times. And to think about what I read and what it means. The very best way to gain insight into what you read in God’s word is to pray to the Spirit for wisdom and illumination. He will give it.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
But ask in confident trust that God will deliver it.
But he must ask in faith, doubting nothing, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is dignified, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, consider these things. (Philippians 4:8)