Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Kids reading grown-ups Bibles

I got a bit carried away with a comment on Nicole's blog so I thought I'd bring it over here.

The issue was, when do you start your kids on grown-ups' Bibles?

Our two eldest girls (9 and 6, nearly 7) are both on grown-ups' Bibles at bedtime. We just read and have a little chat about the stories. After a few weeks of sort of doing it unintentionally with Ruby (actually, she insisted, she was really excited about having her own proper grown-ups' Bible, even though it was only Luke's gospel) I thought to myself "Why haven't I been doing this always?"

What's good about it? Everyone enjoys it, you don't have to search through your memory to see whether the embellishments or omissions are significant, and it's the Word of God, not some hokey little kid's word game or picture puzzle as sold by Matthias Media ;-) where the answer to the deeply probing question is S-A-U-L or some such.

Matilda (9) even sat through the full list of names in Ezra 2 the other night. I think she just enjoyed sitting with me and reading, although by the end of the chapter she was looking a bit puzzled.

Hey by the way have you noticed the similarities, contrasts, and links between the account in Ezra of the people coming out of Babylon, and the links back to the Exodus story? It's pretty amazing, and I only really just picked it up as Matilda and I were reading. Ezra's not a book I turn to regularly, so that probably explains not having spotted stuff before.

The obvious thing is the contrast between Cyrus, who is so happy to let the people go, and Pharaoh back in Exodus who has to be forced to God's will. But what do you know, the people under Cyrus also give of their gold and silver, just like the Egyptians gave their gold and silver when Israel left Egypt. Also, back under Pharaoh the narrative makes a big thing of how many hundreds of thousands of Israelites left Egypt (all part of God keeping his promises to Abraham back in Genesis 12:1-3 about having multitudes of descendants). When you read Ezra 2, however, the numbers are pathetic. Take this random cut and paste:

Ezra 2:19 The sons of Hashum, 223.
Ezra 2:20 The sons of Gibbar, 95.
Ezra 2:21 The sons of Bethlehem, 123.
Ezra 2:22 The men of Netophah, 56.
Ezra 2:23 The men of Anathoth, 128.
Ezra 2:24 The sons of Azmaveth, 42.
Ezra 2:25 The sons of Kiriath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, 743.
Ezra 2:26 The sons of Ramah and Geba, 621.
Ezra 2:27 The men of Michmas, 122.
Ezra 2:28 The men of Bethel and Ai, 223.
Ezra 2:29 The sons of Nebo, 52.

So it goes on. Matilda was very patient with it. Actually, I don't think she realized she was supposed to be bored.

(Remember Isaiah 10:22!)

It's a tragic little remnant isn't it? Clearly God is faithful even after his terrible judgement. And—just like in Exodus—the people having been rescued out of Babylon, where they were exiled, now set about rebuilding what they need for worship "as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God." (Ezra 3:2; an explicit link back to Exodus. Notice that there is no Sinai parallel, however. They already have the law).

So there you have several points of connection and comparison with God's earlier glorious rescue of the people from Egypt. The current little rump of people is so reduced that you don't know whether to laugh and rejoice over God's rescue of them, or weep and wail over the devastation that's been wrought. Like seeing an old friend after many years, now ravaged by cancer. And sure enough:

Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy,
Ezra 3:13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Matilda was able to tell me afterwards that the reason those old folks were crying was because this new temple was nowhere near as good as Solomon's. When and how will God keep his promises to restore Israel? Will the people stuff up again? I can't remember how much of the other bits we went into. But there you go! We both benefitted from that bit of Bible reading. Isn't God kind!

Meanwhile Ruby and I are doing Luke paragraph by paragraph, and having a great deal of fun with it so far.

1 comment:

Ian said...

Sounds wonderful. And a well done to Matilda for getting through the names and numbers: dare I confess I struggle at those points?

And a chat about the stories seems a good way forward. Our priest is always hammering home the point that the family should read and pray together; making sure these things are part of family life.

An aside, but my niece [all of 3] comes into my room and tells me I need to read my Bible before I go to bed when my sister visits. Though I am concerned at what she thinks is in there -- when I asked her what Bible story I should read she said 'The one with cat and rat that go to hospital'. Perhaps Independent Baptists have additional Apocryphal books that us Orthodox don't. ;)