EPISODE SUMMARY

In the Beginning: Noah, Abraham thru Jacob and Israel begins

As Noah endures God’s wrath in his lonely ark, he recounts man’s descent from Adam into wickedness. God has sent a flood to cleanse humanity, to offer a new beginning. Years later, Noah’s descendant Abraham is given a message by God. He is promised a land of his own, and starts out on the long and arduous journey to reach it. Abraham’s only descendant, his nephew Lot, chooses his own path and leaves his uncle to start again in Sodom, where he will escape death when the sinful city is destroyed by God. Meanwhile, Abraham reaches the Promised Land but his covenant with God is still not complete - he has been promised offspring as numerous as the stars. But his wife, Sarah, is barren. Much to her pain she encourages Abraham to sleep with servant girl Hagar to father a child. Ishmael is born. But years later three angels from God arrive with exciting news – Sarah will indeed bear a child, Isaac. Abraham is now forced to choose between his two sons. He casts Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness. God then exacts on Abraham one final, terrible test. Calling for the sacrifice of his one remaining son Isaac, Abraham is forced to prove his faith in his new God. He passes the test and Isaac is allowed to live. The faith of the Israelites begins here, with the family of Abraham. Isaac has a son called Jacob who God re-names Israel...

COLUMN

by Brian C. Stiller
WEA Global Ambassador

The Bible series produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey does what has never been attempted before: to put into a single film series the wide narrative of the entire Bible, from Genesis to the Book of The Revelations.

Sweeping from creation to the wind up of history, this remarkable production puts into one film package the grand story of God’s creation of the Earth, through the ups and downs of the building of the people of God, the Jewish community. Then making the shift from the Old to the New testament, it continues the line of the entire Bible, that with the human fall, Jesus, the Savior, in his death and resurrection provides a means by which Creator and created are brought together as first intended.

The first two hours, of the 10 hour series, begins with Noah who in enduring God’s wrath against an evil society, in his lonely ark recounts human’s descent from Adam and Eve into wickedness. The cataclysmic event of a flood is the chosen method used to cleanse humanity and in its stead, offering a new beginning.

It is important for viewers to understand this is not the Bible in its detail, rather it is a docu/drama recounting in movie form how writers see the story and chose to translate it into the medium of film. This requires selecting highlights and stories that will to the viewer, give a sense of the unfolding drama, yet keeping in the mind the story behind the story. The opening hour offers an excellent example of that.

The writers use Noah, cloistered in the Ark, to tell the story of creation and fall. This gives license to the writers to move quickly through a complex and detailed part of the story by way of narrative. After all, ten hours doesn’t give much time to tell this story spanning thousands of years, which means what some would want to see might not be included.

The critical moment of the first two hours captures the key to the Bible story, located in the story of Noah’s descendant Abraham. After all, he will become father of both Jews and Arabs, and it is to him God gives the promise that through him the people of the world will be blessed.

Human in his strength and weakness, Abraham begins his remarkable journey from what is now Iraq, west and south, ever walking the precarious path of obedience and self interest. Even so, it is in Abraham that we learn later in the New Testament Book of Hebrews, how Abraham was the prototype of faith, and an example of what it means to live boldly, with risk, trusting in the promises of the Lord.

Within the story emerges the counter episode of Abraham’s cousin who in choosing the best of land, settles in the morally decrepit city of Sodom and in a series of dramatic scenes, demonstrates the impact of bad choices. In the end he – although not his wife – and his family are saved, given a second chance. Interplaying the dynamic of the two personalities, Abraham is allowed to negotiate with God as to how many righteous there needs to be in Sodom before it is destroyed, a marvelous picture of the wideness God gives to his people in the sorting out of justice and righteousness.

Meanwhile, Abraham reaches the Promised Land but his covenant with God is still not complete: he has yet to begin to realize the promise made to him by God that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars. But his wife, Sarah, is barren. Much to her own pain, she encourages Abraham to take her servant girl Hagar so he might father a child. Ishmael is born. Failing to trust in the Lord’s promise of a race through his marriage, he tries to jump-start the promise of God.

Years later three angels from God arrive with exciting news – Sarah will indeed bear a child Isaac. Abraham is eventually forced to choose between his two sons, deciding to cast Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness. Another example of the tragedy of mistrust.

The end of the first hour climaxes in a heart-wrenching story: God instructs Abraham to sacrifice his son, born from Sarah, and demonstrate his trust that the promise earlier made would be fulfilled, but this time God’s way. Taking Isaac to a mountain top, he prepares the stone altar, even while his son who has helped carry wood for the sacrifice, wonders aloud to his father, “but where is the lamb for sacrifice?”

Heartbroken, Abraham follows through on the instructions. Just before the knife takes his son’s life, he is stopped and looking behind him, sees a lamb caught in a thicket. That one final and terrible test has been met. Isaac lives. From here the story will move into the recounting of the zig zag route, geographically and spiritually this newly born tribe takes, promising that within the family of Abraham a Savior will come. Isaac then has a son Jacob who God re-names Israel and the story continues.

NOVEL

God has promised Abram a land flowing with milk and honey, and descendants as numerous as the stars. Abram's faith never wavers. He immediately does as God asks. He truly believes in God and His promises. Yet he has become frustrated by God's timetable. When will Sarai bear him a son? Or any child, for that matter? Abram's beard is now almost completely gray. And though aged, Sarai's beauty is still beyond compare - she is the living embodiment of a princess. The shared adventure of their nomadic lifestyle is enhanced by their many attempts to have a child, but the idea that Abram will truly be the father of many nations seems hopeless.

Abram stands alone in the cold desert night, staring up into the sky. A campfire burns down to its final embers. Wind rattles the tent behind him where Sarai shiver as she sleeps. He thinks of the men slain in battle while rescuing Lot, and the futility of their loss. "Abram," whispers Sarai, shivering as she emerges from the tent. The firelight illuminates her beauty. She is wrapped in a thick blanket woven of coarse fabric that protects her from the desert winds. But even covered by a blanket, her beauty takes Abram's breath away. "Come inside," she says lovingly, holding open the rent flap.

Abram is shivering. He sees the inside of the tent, and their bed, so warm and safe. But instead he turns from his wife, gazes up into the sky, and considers the enormity of the universe above and its millions of stars, as if comprehending the vast scope of God's creation for the first time.

Then he collapses.

"Abram!" Sarai screams, racing to him. When she looks into his eyes she sees nothing but his deep belief in God's promos.

"All the stars. Count them! Count them!" he shouts.

Sarai cradles his head, terrified that her beloved husband is losing his mind. She strokes his beard to calm him.

"Our Creator, who made the stars, will give us that many descendants!" he says with complete faith, reminding himself as much as Sarai of God's promises. The fire in Abram's eyes grows brighter as his revelation continues to unfold. "To populate our land! For us! And for our children!" Now it is Sarai's turn to be downcast. "How long have we been praying for children?"

He doesn't answer.

She looks straight into his eyes and says three very hard words: "I. Am. Barren."

"But he has promised! You will have a child! You will!"

She shakes her head. "I can't. I won't. There is no chance for me to carry a child."

They hold a look between them. The silence is deafening.

A Story of God and All of us

This novel is a companion to The Bible miniseries. Readers will revel in this epic saga of warriors, rebels, poets and kings, all called upon by God to reveal His enduring love for mankind. Ultimately, God’s plan is fulfilled in the story of Jesus the Messiah, whose life, death and resurrection bring salvation to one and all. Hardcover 337 pages.

CASTS

MUSIC

BIBLE LOOKUP

Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18)

Abraham Tested

22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

8 Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

© New International Version (NIV)

Noah and the Flood (Genesis 6:9-8:22)

Noah and the Flood

9 This is the account of Noah and his family.

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. 13 So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. 14 So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. 16 Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. 17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. 21 You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

7 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

8 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

© New International Version (NIV)

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed (Genesis 19:1-19)

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

© New International Version (NIV)

DISCUSSION

Faith and obedience

If we obey God only when his command 1) makes sense to us and 2) we agree that it is good, then we are not really obeying God’s commands as an expression of trust in his wisdom and his character. Instead, we are merely complying with God’s requests only after he has justified himself at the bar of our own moral or intellectual understanding. Will we obey, or merely comply? Will he be the authority, or will we?

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SMALL GROUP GUIDE

Below is sample list of small-group study and discussion questions for small groups that use this guidebook in conjunction with The Bible 30-Day Experience DVD Study.

  1. Open in prayer.
  2. Go around the room asking everyone to briefly answer this question: "What is the farthest journey you've ever taken?"
  3. Watch video: "The Binding of Isaac."
  4. Question: "As you watch that video, do you find yourself identifying with anyone? If so, whom? And why?"
  5. Read Genesis 22:1-19.
  6. Question: "Why do you think God was so specific in verse 2 when he told Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love-Isaac … ?"
  7. Question: "The Bible uses only thirty words in verses 9 and 10 to describe what must have been an emotional, even tragic scene: 'He bound his son Isaac and Iaid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.' What unrecorded words/emotions/actions do you imagine taking place in those moments?"
  8. Question: "In verse 12, God said to Abraham, 'Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.' Doesn't God know everything? Why do you think God took as long as he did and let Abraham go as far as he did, if God already knew what was going to happen?"
  9. Read Hebrews 11:17-19.
  10. Question: "What light - if any - do those verses shed on the reading from Genesis 22?
  11. Question: "Isaac lived many years (he lived to the age of 180!) after he nearly died on Mount Moriah. How do you think his experience on Mount Moriah might have affected him in the remaining years of his life?"
  12. Question: "Does this story reflect your experience in any way? If so, how?"
  13. Any other questions or comments?
  14. Close in prayer.

The Bible 30-Day Experience Guidebook © 2013 by Outreach, Inc.

Small Group Guide is From The Bible 30-Day Experience DVD Study + Guidebook

This five-week study for individuals and small groups based on some of the epic stories of the Bible, with an emphasis on God’s plan of redemption for mankind through Jesus Christ. This study features inspirational video clips from the epic Bible miniseries.