Sunday: Old Testament Examples

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-7, Isaiah 28:24-28, Jeremiah 13:12-14, and Ezekiel 15:1-7. How do these parables and allegories expand our understanding of God’s relationship with humankind? Which objects or settings utilized by these prophets later appear in Christ’s parables?

Image © Providence Collection from

Image © Providence Collection from

As we can see, Nathan tells a parable in order to disguise the real purpose of his visit. David implicates himself as the transgressor, thereby pronouncing his own sentence. Using a literary device (a parable), Nathan accomplished something that otherwise might have produced confrontation and, perhaps, even execution (his own!).

Isaiah’s poetic story draws from the agricultural background familiar to his listeners. Centuries later Jesus would employ those same settings. Isaiah’s parable teaches about God’s unlimited mercy during times of punishment. The twelfth chapter of Hebrews likewise understands God’s punishments as tools for correction rather than weapons for vengeance. Divine punishments reflected their redemptive purposes; they were sufficient to encourage repentance, revival, and reformation. Nevertheless, when greater stubbornness and rebellion occurred, greater punishments followed.

Jeremiah’s parable is a terrifying illustration of judgment. Whenever human beings frustrate God’s redemptive purpose, God eventually releases them to the consequences that they have chosen. Christ likewise shared judgment parables with His listeners. Ezekiel uses a different symbol to convey a similar message.

What is it about storytelling that makes it such a powerful way of expressing truth? What are some of your favorite stories, and why do you like them? Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.



Sunday: Old Testament Examples — 17 Comments

  1. Stories based on the theme is educative because it brings a reality to the odiance. African culture we have old stories which are very educating and inspiring

  2. I am thankful that God instil in my culture a system of using metaphor & allegories. Elders in my society and those that I have lived & worked in used illustrations to illustrate the important messages daily in social context.

  3. Our God is so merciful, he takes his time and patience to knock sense in our heads using the very things we use and see everyday. But we need not to take Him for granted for his judgment will surely follow. Itsonly a fool who waits to learn from his own mistakes, a wise person learns from others' mistakes.

  4. It reduces the tension between the one rebuking and the one being rebuked and also softens the whole situation much easier and it deepens its impression

  5. I love the use of stories to convey truths but something we must remember that the stories have meaning in a cultural way that we don't often fully understand or are relevant today. We must remember that the words are not sacred but that God is.

  6. I like story telling because sometimes we get so caught up in what others are doing, and forget what we have done, and this story with David and Nathan is such a vivid example. Cause David was a man of war, and he was ready to kill, passing his own judgement on his own head, and I am always impressed with the logic of Haman building a gallows so tall, only if he knew that the tables would have turned, he would have build one so that it would not have hanged him that easily...great lessons for myself, when I lost my sense of whom God wants me to be

  7. I think story telling and learning through parables is effective because it is much easier for us to be judgmental of others, rather than ourselves. Thus, we tend to be able to better analyze people, behaviors, and situations analytically when we are looking from the outside in. But once we can make that analysis we are then able to apply it to our behaviors and experiences and learn from our mistakes or simply by realizing we are also vulnerable to sin.

  8. I wonder if the parables that Jesus told were based on true stories. In my experience I have always found true stories to be more powerful. I am sure either way Jesus stories are the most powerful of all.

    • Jesus cannot lie, his stories are not like those funny St Peters story we hear all the time. Solomon in Proverbs declare, there is nothing new under the sun, so these stories have happened at some point. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, so Jesus knows our weakness, and in order to lift us up to a higher level of understanding from earthly values to heavenly values, he uses the language we are more able to understand.

      • Elizabeth, true Jesus does not lie, but He did tell parables that did not actually happen. Like the rich man and Lazarus did not go straight to heaven or hell when they died. However, many of His stories were true. We are told in Desire of Ages that the story of the Good Samaritan actually took place. Please remember that telling a story that did not actually happen is not the same as lying or trying to deceive unless you try to make the person think it is true. It is only a metaphor. Everyone understands there is another meaning. I doubt the story Nathan told David actually took place, but it was an illustration of something David had done.

      • Interesting that you should mention the "funny St Peters story," since I had been thinking that it is very much like the "Rich Man and Lazarus" story. Many versions of the story are told as part of our culture and they usually illustrate a truth, even though we all know that the whole scenario is fictitious.

        When Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, He used a story popular in the culture of His time - a story that had entered Jewish culture from Egypt. The Jews certainly did not believe that Abraham had a bosom big enough for all the saints to reside in even temporarily, nor did they believe the other improbable details. But Jesus used this popular story and gave it a twist (much like we do with the St Peter story) to contrast the way God sees people and the way we tend to see people.

        You are right that Jesus does not lie, and telling fictitious stories is not lying unless one tries to deceive one's audience. It is an example of illustration by metaphor.

  9. we need to know as Christians when n how to tell real and fiction stories. Also we need to pray for more enlightment on a subject before presenting it

    • Foster, it seems evident that whether the story is real or fictitious is not the issue. Stories are meant to illustrate a point, and if a story does that, it has done its job. It is wrong to try to deceive people, but it is not wrong to tell a fictitious story if it is not intended to deceive but to teach a lesson. Jesus did it when He told the story of the Rich man and Lazarus - a story that originated in Egypt.

      Praying for enlightenment is always good 🙂

      • Sister Inge,
        Maybe Foster does make a relevant input. Take for example a Saint Peter story. In general it is permissible. However it may not necessarily be a wise choice. It appears the majority of Christians believe Peter is in Heaven receiving new believers as soon as they die. The use of a Saint Peter story may unintentionally reinforce in the minds of the hearers a serious error, especially if it follows the usual narrative. Using such a story as humor may also have a similar effect.

        The story of the rich man and Lazarus was probably sufficiently extreme as not to be mistaken as endorsement of actual events. No doubt Jesus took into consideration the actual audience and the potential effect as He was led by the Spirit.

        • Hello Hugh,

          If I didn't know who told the story, I'd be very much tempted to say that the Rich Man and Lazarus story was not a wise choice - especially considering its heathen origin. But I can't really argue with the Master Storyteller, can I? Nevertheless, when I meet people who take the story more or less literally and cannot understand how I can hold views regarding man's state in death which are in such opposition to the story, I find myself wishing that Jesus hadn't told that story.

          It seems to me that Jesus wasn't that concerned about the origins of the story or about the details. It was a good story to make His particular point. I still can't think of a better story to make that point ...

          And I wonder whether we should really attempt to be wiser than Jesus ...

        • Inge, the parable Jesus tells of the rich man and Lazarus was to men who justified themselves before other men, while God read their hearts. It was told to warn them of their great danger in not realizing the time of their "visitation" as the 70 weeks of Daniel were nearing their fulfillment.

          The story has built-in absurdities that will alert the humble seeker of it's lack of being truth in it's details, yet the lesson is clearly taught. People who believe this story to be factual do not understand the scriptures, even if they can quote the whole Bible. The leaders in Jesus' day were diligent scholars of scripture, but read them with a veil over their eyes. (harbored sin is the darkest of veils)

          This story disarms the prejudice that might otherwise block the teaching if given in a straight-forward "bible study" on probation, and brings the truth in direct confrontation with their false hope of self-justification. The lesson is learned before they know it is being taught to them.

          With this story, Jesus demonstrates the wisdom of God given through His Spirit to all who will receive it. I have come to believe that such "difficult" passages in scripture are there to expose the unbelief of the insincere while teaching truth to the meek and lowly of heart. God will prove every soul.


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