Dr. John B. MacDonald
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As you read or listen intentionally to the Historical Backbone of the Bible do you ask what it means for your life?

If you've reached Exodus, the second book of the Bible, you may wonder how it is relevant for modern living. Events you come across involve two midwives who refuse Pharaoh’s command to kill newborn Hebrew boys; Moses’ curiosity over a burning bush in the wilderness; and numerous confrontations between Moses and the Pharaoh that end badly for Egypt. 

Macro and micro

As interesting as these historical accounts are, you might wonder what they have to do with you and me. After all, they took place in ancient Egypt more than three millennia ago.

I argue that these events are relevant to us. On the macro level of history and nations, they are telling God’s ‘Story’ as he engages with humanity.

On the micro-level of individual lives, they are disclosing our humanity with all its warts, and God’s sovereign presence with all its mystery. 

Five questions

Here are five questions that we can ask as we read the Historical Backbone of the Bible at the level of our individual lives. I learned this approach years ago. It is the S.P.E.C.K. method.

Each letter of S.P.E.C.K. is the first letter of a word that helps us focus on how the ‘Story’ can impact our lives.

“S” triggers the question: Is there a Sin to avoid?

For instance, as Pharaoh capitulates to the Lord after a devastating plague, he changes his mind. After all, the plague has ended and he is Pharaoh. So we read words such as “when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen” (Exodus 8:15).

Does this ever happen in your life?

Troubles plague you. You promise God you'll change your behavior. Then things get better and you go back to your old ways.

So, as you read about Pharaoh, what could this be saying to you on the micro-level? Is there a Sin to avoid?

“P” asks: Is there a Promise to claim?

“E”: Is there an Example to follow?

“C”: Is there a Command to obey?

“K”: Is there Knowledge to gain

An illustration

When you read the events of Exodus 3 you watch as Moses approaches a strange sight in the wilderness: a bush was burning (probably an ordinary event), but it was not being consumed (an extraordinary event).

As he draws near, his name is called “from within the bush”: “Moses! Moses!” Stranger yet.

He answers with “Here I am” and hears “Do not come any closer … Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (3:5).

Moses experienced “fear” (3:6) that I would understand as a wholesome dread of displeasing God, whom he loved.

As you move through the chapter what are you hearing?

You are observing a significant encounter as the Lord discloses himself and his purposes to Moses. History is in the making – and you don’t want to miss what’s happening at this macro-level.

But you can also hear and learn from what God says and does to Moses, and how Moses responds to the Lord. At this micro-level, we can learn much also. 

An encouragement

So, as you read, ask yourself the S.P.E.C.K. questions. Is there a:

  • Sin to avoid?
  • Promise to claim?
  • Example to follow?
  • Command to obey?
  • Knowledge to gain?

How do these questions impact your life as you read God’s ‘Story’? 

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