I’m in the midst of a three-week stint teaching Senior High Sunday School. Last week we looked at several passages that show God’s preference for life (healings, etc.), and next week we’re going to look at various stories of death and violence in the Bible.
Life. That’s easy.
Death. That’s harder.
I could easily hand-pick stories that, though dealing with death, are somewhat easy to explain. Or, I could whip out stories like Judges 19 (especially vs. 22-30) and just let some of those difficult passages hang out there for these kids to read and wrestle with. Cain and Abel resolves somewhat cleanly with God wagging a divine finger at Cain. Elijah and the prophets of Baal is a bloodbath that looks like a precursor to the Crusades. The entire Egyptian Army is killed when the Red Sea recedes after Moses and the people of Israel cross it, but our 21st Century sensibilities are not offended by this story (we like David and Goliath, Robin Hood, underdog-justice kind of stories). There are the seven plagues in Revelation 16, and even the crucifixion story in Mark, which (according to several ancient and reliable manuscripts) ends on a dark note tinged with fear and trembling. We can also look at the various crucifixion stories and the suffering servant images and discuss how they have been miscontrued so as to permit domestic violence . . . This list is only the tip of the iceberg. Are there other "good" stories of violence and death I should consider?
Well, I promised the kids that we’d look at death and violence in the Bible this week (you know, those stories that our elementary Sunday School curricula appropriately avoid), but I’m not entirely sure how to procede. Any ideas?