DISCIPLE 4: UNDER THE TREE OF LIFE
This completes the four-phase DISCIPLE Bible study.
You must complete Disciple I before taking this class.
UNDER THE TREE OF LIFE is for adult and youth graduates of DISCIPLE: BECOMING DISCIPLES THROUGH BIBLE STUDY.
The image of the tree of life frames the biblical story: In Genesis, in the midst of a garden, but off limits. In Revelation, on either side of the river of the water of life, with fruit to eat and leaves for the healing of the nations.
Present through the whole study is the sense of living toward completion — toward the climax of the message and the promise, extravagantly pictured in the Revelation.
The fourth phase of DISCIPLE concentrates on:
- The Writings in the Old Testament Unlike Torah and the Prophets, the collection of books called the Writings does not have a unifying theme; in fact the books differ one from the other in both form and content. The Writings appeal to the heart more than the head and address both community and individual life. Narrative books in the Writings cover the period of Israel's Exile and return. Ruth, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel. Books of poetry and wisdom include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations. (Old Testament wisdom has its New Testament counterpart in the letter of James.)
- The New Testament Scriptures The Gospel of John; 1,2,3 John; James; Jude; and Revelation. John's Gospel was written for Jews who were in agony over division within the house of Israel. At the core of that division was relationship with Jesus Christ that brought reorientation to the community.
One of the functions of Scripture is to give us a vocabulary. The book of Revelation provides a vocabulary of imagery for making sense of experience and learning to live with what is painful and what is hopeful. Revelation is a picture of completion, a picture of the fulfillment of God's time. We read Revelation in order to know the end of the story.
- The Psalms as Israel's hymnbook and prayer book. This leads naturally to an emphasis on worship in the study.
Present through the whole study is the sense of living toward completion – toward the climax of the message and the promise, extravagantly pictured in the Revelation.
Proverbs offers wisdom as "a tree of life to those who lay hold of her" (3:18). Here Judaism offers an image DISCIPLE graduates will understand. Picture the long parchment scroll from which Scripture is read. It is wound on two wooden rollers. Each of the rollers is called a "tree of life" – an eloquent image for the life-bearing Scriptures.
Worship plays a central role in the book of Revelation. Through video, UNDER THE TREE OF LIFE participants will experience the book of Revelation as worship. The video provides an
interactive, sensory experience. Viewers will participate by reading, singing, listening, praying, lamenting-and will be immersed in the words, images, colors, and music of Revelation that declare triumphantly that the God who is at the beginning is the God who is at the end. This video worship experience proclaims that the book of Revelation is a message to embrace and a hope to anticipate. It climaxes the journey DISCIPLE participants have made from Creation to the New Jerusalem.
- The Revelation video is intended to move DISCIPLE participants beyond the usual understanding of the book of Revelation-to come to see
- that God is in control even if the world seems out of control
- that the book of Revelation addresses the church today as it did the early church
- that worship of God is Revelation's answer to a church that has accommodated to the culture and a society whose allegiance is to idols
- that a comfortable church may be unable to recognize the significance of God's victory
- that in any authentic experience of worship the worshiper is confronted by God
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