Fun and Games?

My son, keep my words
    and store up my commands within you.
Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.

  • Proverbs 7:1-2

“The Career Connection”

“See if you can match these Bible Characters with their chosen careers or jobs.  (Choose the BEST match for each one … careful – it’s tricky!)
Joseph                                               Tax collector
Luke                                                   Magician
Jehu                                                   Fisherman
Peter                                                  Queen
Nicodemus                                       Carpenter
Caleb                                                  Prime Minister
Solomon                                           Beggar
Simon                                                Chariot Driver
David (boy)                                      A Good Wife
Matthew & Zacchaeus                 Soldier
Jeremiah                                           King
Aquila                                                Doctor
Gideon                                              Prophet
Bartimaeus                                      Shepherd
Deborah                                            Judge
Jezebel                                               Tentmaker
Abigail                                               Spy
Haman                                              Rabbi

  • Joy MacKenzie and Shirley Bledsoe, The Big Book of Bible Games and Puzzles

Some of you may be asking, What?!?!

In my cleaning up, I opened boxes that had not been opened in years.  This quote is from a book that my wife used in teaching an elementary Sunday school class, many years ago.  She bought the book, which has full page games that can be copied to hand out to the students.  The authors encouraged Sunday school teachers in doing so, so no problem with copyright issues.

What my wife discovered was that she could not pass most of the quizzes and that the answer pages just gave the answers, not the Biblical reference to look up the answers.  She studied the book carefully, choosing the easiest ones or the ones that corresponded to the lesson in the standard curriculum.  Yes, there was a standard curriculum with study guides and teacher’s aides, but my wife always went beyond the ‘standard’ in whatever she did.

Thus, most of this book was never used.  But it does bring up an important point.  Can most adults get the quiz answers without scrolling to the bottom of the page?

I chose one of many Scriptures from Proverbs where we are admonished to carefully learn what we are taught.  But the question is, have we done so?  I’m not talking about “Love thy neighbor” and then everything else takes care of itself.  When I was in Sunday school during elementary school and middle school, we learned the Bible stories.  In many places, high school attendance in Sunday school became a problem.  Not where I was from, but I lived in the Dark Ages.  Odd using that term.  There was more Light being shown to the world than now.  We live in an “Enlightened Age”, but it is darkness disguised as light.  But when I talk of times before the reader was born, they roll their eyes and dismiss it.  Yet, most of our issues today can be solved by trusting in God and learning what is taught in the Bible.

Let’s have a little lesson on how to solve matching problems.  The first thing to do in answering the quiz above is to take those that you know are right.  That eliminates the possible answers.  David as a boy was a shepherd.  Matthew and Zacchaeus were tax collectors.  Luke was a doctor.  The father of Jesus, Joseph, was a carpenter (although most modern theologians revise that career to be builder, since there was little carpentry in those days – some even go as far as to say stonemason).  Peter was a fisherman.  Caleb was a spy.  Jeremiah was a prophet.  Solomon was a king.  That makes things a bit ‘tricky’ since David (as an adult) was a king and Jehu was a king.

Now we can look at gender specific names and careers.  We have three female names:  Deborah, Jezebel, and Abigail.  We have only two traditional female careers:  Queen and Good Wife.  But, if you know a bit about the book of Judges, you will know that Deborah was a Judge.  Most would know that Jezebel was an evil queen.  That leaves Abigail as the Good Wife, not to be confused with the television show.

Now for a few more obscure Bible stories.  Bartimaeus was a beggar.  Simon was a magician.  And possibly the most obscure name could be Haman and the most obscure career could be prime minister.  It’s not a bad guess to combine them (actually the correct answer).

That leaves us with four names:  Jehu, Nicodemus, Aquila, and Gideon.  It also leaves us with four careers: Chariot Driver, Soldier, Tentmaker, and Rabbi.  Without much effort, we can connect Nicodemus to rabbi and Aquila to tentmaker.  That leaves Jehu as the chariot driver and Gideon as the soldier.

Was that so hard?  And it required very little deep theological knowledge of the Scriptures, in most cases superficial knowledge of Bible stories – thus a challenging quiz for older children in Sunday school.

In going through it, I was really teaching how to take these types of tests, not much about the broader knowledge, eliminating the easy ones leaves less options for educated guesses.

But something is missing – the significance of these people in Scripture.  If Paul can tell Timothy that all Scripture can be used for learning, these people meant something other than their careers.  These days, we could use a search engine on the computer to ace this little quiz with almost no problem.

Most of these you may know, but I wrote a little about each.  As the book gave no Bible references, I also added those for further study, if you desire.

Joseph – Carpenter (Matthew 13:55) – The other Joseph, son of Jacob (Genesis), was many things, accountant for his father, slave, dreamer / interpreter of dreams, overseer of Egypt.  But the New Testament Joseph listened to the angels and did not divorce Mary, accepting the baby Jesus as his own.  A man of faith, mercy, and love.

Luke -Doctor (Colossians 4:14) – But more importantly the author of Luke and Acts, written to his friend, Theophilus.

Jehu – Chariot Driver (2 Kings 9:25) – This is a bit obscure and Jehu became king of the northern tribes of Israel.  He is a soldier, but in this verse, he tells his chariot officer of how they both went by chariot.  Jehu followed the prophecies in his rebellion against Ahab and ascended to the throne (having been anointed by Elijah to destroy the kingly line of Ahab), but he was a bad king, leading the people of Israel further away from the true worship of God.

Peter – Fisherman (Luke 5:1-8) – Many references to Simon Peter being a fisherman, but outspoken Apostle and fisher of men are more important.

Nicodemus – Rabbi (John 3:1) – I could quibble with the authors as Nicodemus is a member of the Jewish ruling council, who in John 3:2 calls Jesus “Rabbi.”  But can we assume he might have been a rabbi who was promoted to the council?

Caleb – Spy (Numbers 13:6) – One of the two spies who Moses sent into the Holy Land who had faith and knew God would defeat the enemies of the Israelites.  The other faithful spy was Joshua.  Those two spies were the only adults who went into the promised land after the Israelites rebelled and rejected God’s promise, thus leading to the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  In Joshua 14, most of the chapter is dedicated to Caleb picking out where he wanted to live and driving out those who possessed the land, a story of unshakable faith in God.

Solomon – King (1 Kings 1:28-53) – Solomon was king, but it wasn’t an easy ascension to the throne.

Simon – Magician (Acts 8) – Simon the Sorcerer (NIV) wanted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit from Peter.  Since Peter was originally named Simon and visited Simon the tanner in Acts 9, this made this match a process of elimination.

David (boy) – Shepherd (1 Samuel 16:11-13) – But could David also be listed as a musician, song writer, and king (since anointed while a boy)?

Matthew & Zacchaeus – Tax Collectors (Matthew 9:9 & Luke 19:1-10) – Very well-known stories.

Jeremiah – Prophet (Jeremiah 1:1) – A fairly obvious answer, with a book of prophecy in his name, and as the author of Lamentations.

Aquila – Tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3) – This threw me at first, knowing that Paul was a tentmaker.  Yet, Paul stayed and worked with Aquila, having a common interest.

Gideon – Soldier (Judges 6-7) – But to be honest, I was looking for farmer, because when God spoke to him first, he was threshing wheat.  And Gideon was a judge.

Bartimaeus – Beggar (Mark 10:46-52) – Bartimaeus is mentioned only in the Gospel of Mark, but the story of (a) blind beggar(s) is in all three synoptic Gospels.  Only Matthew (Matt. 20:29-34) mentions a second beggar, and Luke (Luke 18:35-43) only mentions one beggar, but not by name.  Yet, the details of the persistent beggar asking for help, the crowd trying to quiet him/them, and Jesus healing him/them is the same.  When Bartimaeus followed Jesus, did he get to know Peter or John Mark personally, thus being mentioned by name only in the Gospel of Mark?  Who was the other blind beggar that is only mentioned in Matthew, and where was Matthew’s vantage point to see the other beggar?  Questions abound.

Deborah – Judge (Judges 4-5) – Deborah was a judge unlike most in the book of judges.  She was a prophet.  She was female.  Through her prophecies, she sends Barak into battle, with a prescribed number of men.  Judges 5 is almost completely dedicated to Deborah’s song.  All except that there was 40 years of peace that followed Barak’s victory.

Jezebel – Queen (1 Kings 16:31) – It is hard to imagine anyone more vile and wicked as Ahab’s wife, Jezebel.  The name has personified that ever since.

Abigail – Good Wife (1 Samuel 25) – Abigail had been the wife of Nabal and she would become David’s third wife.  Nabal, a very rich descendant of Caleb (mentioned above), was a vile person.  Although David provided protection to the people of Judah, Nabal refused to feed David’s army, but Abigail went by donkey with gifts to plead with David to spare her husband.  Then Nabal’s life was taken by God instead of David, and David, impressed by her honesty, bravery, and honor, accepted her as his third wife.  (Michal, his first wife, was given to another when David ran for his life from Michal’s father, King Saul.)

Haman – Prime Minister (Esther 3) – Before Hitler, there was Haman.  Haman was given a great seal of honor by King Xerxes.  All had to bow to Haman, but Mordecai would not.  Haman vowed to kill all the Jews, especially Mordecai.  Esther, a Jew and the niece of Mordecai, braved the wrath of Xerxes by boldly stepping into the midst of Haman’s plot.  In the end, Haman was impaled on the pole that Haman had erected, preparing for the death of Mordecai.

It is one thing to have some fun and games that make Bible study more interesting, but the goal is to learn from the experience.  As the Scripture above says, what God teaches should be regarded as the apple of our eye.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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