This is a quick draft of the sermon from Sunday, April 12th. Sorry about some of the rough spots and abbreviations (N is north, S is south, E is east, W is west). I know this is difficult to understand without the maps and photos. I hope I’ll be able to add them some time.
CREDIT: This is one of the lectures developed by Dr. Jim Fleming and the staff of Biblical Resources in Jerusalem that we would give to Christian tourists when they first arrived in Israel as a general introduction to the land. We sometimes call this the 5-4-3-2-1 lecture.
The Bible is like the script of a play or film. By reading it, you can get a good sense of the plot. You can appreciate much of the dialogue. But you have to rely on your imagination to fill in the details. That's fine if you're reading a story of events in your own country and your own generation. It’s easy to understand the customs and the setting of your own time and your own people.
But what if the story takes place far away, in a distant time and culture, with a different language and people? Your imagination will paint a picture--but that picture will be quite different than the reality. You will miss the point of strange customs and sayings. And you will misunderstand some of the actions. This is the problem we have when we read the Bible: the action is in Israel in the Middle East, thousands of years ago, in the Hebrew (or Greek) language, and among a Semitic people and society very different than our own.