This week's "Good Books" features a three-volume set entitled, Chronicles. News of the Past (3rd edition, 1968), edited by Israel Eldad and Moshe Aumann. It is a publication of the Reubeni Foundation, Jerusalem. Also reviewed is a rather unique set of five audiocassette tapes entitled, Bible News Broadcasts. Abraham to King Saul  (Wembley, Middlesex, UK: Bible News Limited, 1977).

  It comes complete with an illustrated programme guide, maps, history-at-a-glance chart, and background analyses.
    At BGST we are constantly on the lookout for good Bible study and teaching aids. Chronicles takes biblical history from Abraham in 1726 to Dr Theodor Herzl's vision of the Jewish State in 1897 and turns historical facts and trivia into a highly readable newspaper. The parts that touch on biblical history interest me most. The edition for 4 Elul, 2034 (=1726 BC), p.3, carries an interesting travelogue on "Sightseeing in Ur" with a map of the city of Ur and its vicinity, an artist impression of Abram's house, announcement on the cargo of wood and precious stones carried by caravans arriving in Ur, shipping news of arriving and departing ships travelling on the ancient Euphrates River. Classified ads invite readers to send their children to the Ziggurat Secondary School and mention donkeys for hire, with driver provided if needed. On 12 Nisan, 2060 (=1700 BC) the headlines screamed, 'SODOM AND GOMORRAH WIPED OUT IN WORST DISASTER SINCE FLOOD." It carried eyewitness accounts, analyses of the disaster by the priests at Jericho, Jerusalem and Hebron and by staffwriters noting the political significance of the event. There is a great deal of biblical information, highly peppered with a lot of fertile imagination. Some of the information may be suspect, like the identification of the location of Sodom and Gommorah with the southern end of the Dead Sea, formerly a fertile valley and now flooded over after the disaster. By a strange quirk of circumstances, this area has now become a rich source of minerals and has yielded millions of dollars worth of potash, cosmetic mud, etc. Still, Chronicles gives Bible students plenty of food for thought, if they are patient enough to wade through newsprint. Just remember that this is a Jewish publication and one needs to compare carefully what it says with what is found in the Bible. I think it is rather ingenious to turn biblical history into newspaper articles as most of us enjoy a good read of the newspaper at the beginning or end of a day. 
    Bible News Broadcasts, is particularly appealing to me because I am an avid listener of the BBC. What the scriptwriters, producers and broadcasters have achieved here is to take key events from the Old Testament period and turn them into amazingly insightful and highly entertaining 15-minute programmes. There are ten of these and what a rare treat it is to find familiar passages from Scripture transformed into newscasts, enabling us to see Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, Samson, Samuel, and Saul from a different perspective. Geographical, sociological, economic and political factors are brought together in a friendly, easy-to-understand manner. Graphic accounts of what happened, complete with authentic soundtrack, even to the kind of shrill percussive sounds of ancient Semitic orchestras, reveal a thorough-going research that went into the production of these tapes. I like the one where the Bible News journalist was able to witness the dramatic destruction of the highly fortified city of Jericho. Each programm contains a brain-storming session by a panel experts who discuss realistically the pros and cons of each event. The "Man in the News" takes a main character and examines the significance of his ideas or actions. The treatment of Joseph was masterly. It began with his inauguration as the new Viceroy (or Governor) of Egypt. A grand procession resounding with shouts by the crowds ends with his investiture and a discussion of his new economic policy in cutting back the exports of valuable Egyptian grain to store them in huge granaries to prepare for seven years of famine. It did not occur to me that this was more than a simple action: it actually enriched the Pharaoh and enabled him eventually to own virtually much of Egypt when the wealthy had to part with valuable lands and properties in return for food. The priesthood was concerned about Joseph's ethnic background and speculated whether or not he had ulterior motives since only a few days earlier he was a common prisoner. To all creative Bible teachers and preachers I recommend highly these five Bible News Broadcasts. Happy listening and reading! (QSH)

Life Has A Purpose - The Story Of Joseph
Chapel Talk by Wilfred Leow on 29 May 2002

Introduction

  • I have often asked myself: why am I am doing what I am doing? What has the work I do got to do with Christian ministry? This is compounded by modern life, with its change, non-permanence, and transient work relationships. And churches have contributed to this insignificance, purposelessness and directionlessness of life.
  • Sometimes  we can plan our life. But frequently we can't and are caught up by circumstances.
  • For those going into full-time Christian ministry, there is often  a vague vision and idea and the road signs aren't that clear as we wander and fumble along life's journey.
  • There are times when we might have wondered whether God is control of our life, or whether we are truly fulfilling God's will in our life.

It may be useful to ask ourselves: what if it is God's will for you to be a future Prime Minister of Singapore? How would God want to train this person? At a SAP school like Rosyth? At  RI or RJC? A President's Scholarship to Cambridge, Masters degree in Harvard, or as a Permanent Secretary or Chairman Joint Chief of Staff? We can speculate no end. Let's examine the life of Joseph in the Bible.

Joseph the Dreamer

  • First, God gave Joseph a dream but he was an insensitive, proud, spoilt brat.
  • God bursts the dream through betrayal, hurt and rejection - Joseph is sold as a slave. In Christianity, frequently the greater the destiny, the greater the trough of experience. Fortunately Joseph did not become a juvenile delinquent with an anti-establishment, anti-authority attitude. Or perhaps  he did but resolved it?
  • But God blessed him tremendously and he was promoted to secretary of domestic affairs in the captain's house. But still a slave. How can it be God's will? Is God still in control?
  • But things got worse. Joseph is thrown into prison on false charges of molest by the captain's wife. It is a great wonder that he didn't turn into a people hater with resentment and  cynicism about life in general.
  • The rest is history. Joseph became Pharaoh's right-hand man. The dream God gave him finally came true.
  • God's will? As Captain's right hand man he learnt subservience and how to get people to do the job. Imagine a slave telling another slave what to do. Worse, possibly he took charge over some of the Egyptians under the Captain's employment. he was equipped well to be Pharoah's right hand man.
  • In prison he experienced  physical hardship, learned  humility, and was trained in administration especially with uncooperative people who were street-smart. He mixed with all the riff-raffs of society and had compassion for those  who were wrongly accused.  He shared their pain and suffering. As Pharoah's right hand man, he worked hard, and was compassionate to those in need . He helped the outcasts in society in time of famine  (e.g. ,his brothers managed to seek an audience with him for food even though they were foreigners)
  • In the vicissitudes of life he experienced,  Joseph  must have wondered about the link between God's will and God's sovereignty. He could not see the big picture. But he did his best in whatever he did and wherever he was instead of moaning and groaning.  He displayed great maturity as he resolved emotional pain which stemmed from from betrayal, injustice and torment.
[Wilfred went on to share from his personal life the way God led him through many puzzling experiences. But he is happy to entrust his future to God and looks forward to the possibility serving in the future as a Pastor in his home church.]

Application
  • When we dream big for God we may have to be prepared to 'suffer big'.
  • When life seems directionless and we do not see how life coheres together, we know God is in control. Through seeming mis-directions, coincidences, disasters, blessings and circumstantial opportunities all wrapped up together,  God carried out His plan for our life.
  • God has a life story for all of us to live. What is our life story?

Chapel speaker on Wednesday (5 June) will be our Dean, Dr Quek Swee Hwa. He hopes to do a creative piece. Come and see! The venue will be Zion's new "Second Sanctuary" on the second floor, opposite the former BGST Office. Next week's chapel speaker will be our resident Lecturer, Dr Ng Peh Cheng.

  1. SEMESTER 3 COURSES.  Registration for courses starting in end June has commenced. Sign up NOW. Payment can be made later. Note students should sign up for continuing classes in Greek, Hebrew, NT, Counselling, etc. Special classes commence with Rev Dr David Harley and Dr John Lim.

  2. CLASS OF AT232 (Communication Skills), please take note that there is no class on June 19. A take-home exam paper has been issued with the notes for Lecture Eight. Please submit all exam scripts to BGST Office by June 19.

  3. ADVANCE NOTICE. Many of our staff will be away on leave next week. However, the rest will still be around to offer any assistance needed.

  • Ms Serene Woon: 6-10 June

  • Mrs Susan Foo: 6-11 June
  • Dr John Lim: 7-10 June
  • Dr Quek Swee Hwa: 10-14 June
  • Rev Ng Seng Chuan: 11-14 June
  • Mr Leong Kok Weng: 11-18 June

birthday cakeWishing you God's blessings on your Birthday!
Mr Davin Prasetyo  5/6
   Dr Matthew Koh Ghim Hong  9/6
   Ms Lam Moy Yin  9/6
   Ms Tan Li Chuang  9/6

 

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This page is updated on 4 Jun 2002 by Jacob-Tan Lee Pin
    Jun 2002