I was recently able to attend a preaching workshop by the Simon Trust here in Madison. One of the principles they teach is that each book of the bible has a main theme or idea. They call it the Melodic Line. If you listen to a song, whether it is Country and Western, Jazz or Classical, there is usually a line of melody that is repeated and developed through the piece.
What would you say is the Melodic Line of Malachi? Here is my answer:
God’s love is unchanging – even when his people are stubborn.
The main ides is in the 1:2 “I have loved you” and in 3:6, “I the Lord never change.” But we also noted all the times that the people of God argued with the Lord and his messenger. Even when God said, “I love you” they argued.
God’s love is unchanging, even when his people are stubborn.
But with this is another melody, like a descant to a song that rises above all the other notes. This descant is “I am about to do something for the nations.” When he said, “from the rising of the sun to its setting, my name will be great.” and “…my name will be great among the nations.”
God’s love is unchanging – even when his people are stubborn.
He will be great among the nations.
Four times Haggai says something like “take careful thought to your ways”.
Haggai 1:5 – “Give careful thought to your ways.” – why your lives are unsatisfying
Haggai 1:7 – “Give careful thought to your ways.” – go and get started on the temple
Haggai 2:15 – “Now give careful thought to this from this day on.” – remembering the frustrations of removed blessing
Haggai 2:18 – “From this day on…give careful thought to the day when the foundations of the temple was laid…” – today is a day changer.
The Point Haggai was making was that the Returnees needed to talk a good look at their lives from the standpoint of God’s promises – they were not being blessed and that could be traced to a lack of faithfulness. In OT terms that was largely measured in material blessings – the temple and purses with holes in them.
The other side of the coin is the emphasis on God’s ultimate plan – their work was small, their governor was not that important, their numbers were few, but the big picture was a world changer –
Haggai 1:6-9 – the glory of the Nations will come here
Haggai 2:21-22 – the heavens and the nations will be shaken.
Give careful thought to your lives and see that your faith-driven service now is linked to an incredible future.
Sunday School Teacher: what is grey, climbs in trees, eats nuts and has a big tail?
Sunday School Kid: Well it sounds like a squirrel, but the answer has to be Jesus.
I have been wondering about the frequent claim that all sermons should be tied to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It is said that we need to tie whatever text we read to the main story line, which is the history of redemption, or the story of salvation. We fall into the danger of becoming moralists, bible information dispensers, self-help gurus, it is said, if we don’t make the link.
Here is the issue, are we thereby imposing on a text the need to say, “But the answer is Jesus.” One can present the book of Ruth as the story of God’s providential care in the lives of ordinary people, of the importance of keeping the laws regarding the poor and needy and of the value of faithful living. Or one can focus on the Jesus connection: Boaz and Ruth are in the line of David, which is the line of the Messiah and of Christ. It is even possible to turn the book into an extended parable of the Gospel. I would cover all those points, but make the “Jesus connection” at the end, where the book does.
I prefer to think that the connection should be made when it is evident in the text itself. We are in a church which is all about the history of redemption, but sometimes the text is practical advice (A gentle answer turns away wrath – Prov 15:1) or a reminder of God’s mercy to the weak and the alien (the servant Girl and Naaman in II Kings 5).
A friend was surprised in a message from Proverbs 1-9 that I did not tie the text to Christ – but the passage was about the value of wisdom. Now in the series the theme of Wisdom was tied to Christ – “in who all wisdom dwells”, but that sermon allowed the passage to speak to one aspect of the life of wisdom.
In other words, sometimes you can talk about a squirrel.
This is a second entry from the Simeon Trust workshop that I recently attended. One of the principles of study that the Simeon Trust presents is the concept of the Melodic Line. Let me give you their definition:
“Books of the Bible and the Bible as a whole have a coherent, sustained message similar to the unique melody of a song…It unites the whole book, concisely stating what the whole book is about. The theme of any passage will be related (directly or indirectly) to this theme or melodic line.” (from Workshop Handout)
The idea is that we should treat the Bible in a literary way, and to look for the theme or main idea(s) that are presented by each author. This keeps us from grasping at random verses that strike our interest, while we miss the main thrust of the book. It also is a way to keep us interpreting passages in their context.
For example, the Book of Acts is often a source book for the phenomenon of the Holy Spirit, or for church organization. But the Melodic line would have to do with the expansion of the Gospel – summarized in
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The melodic line of Proverbs is represented by Proverbs 1:7
Proverbs 1:7 – ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
I am currently preparing to peach on the prophetic books of Haggai and Malachi, and am reading with my printed out text and colored pencils to discern the “melodic line.” This is very useful, and I wish I had learned this concept earlier in my studies.
By the way, do you know the source for the melodic line in the graphic above?
So we took 2 and 1/2 days from this week to sit with other pastors discussing various passages from the Wisdom literature of the Bible. The
Simeon Trust has some basic insights into biblical study called Lucas Lessons. We will share and demonstrate those over the next few posts. Also, we discussed several passages from Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs as well as New Testament passages. This will be enough to fill these pages for a time.
Now a question for you dear readers: Have any of you taught or sat under the teaching or preaching of the Song of Songs? Was the treatment about sexuality (more literal) or the spiritual life (more allegorical)?
link: Simon Trust www.simeontrust.org