When I was in high school either for History or English class I was a book to read. Some titles that came back to my memory are:
- The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorn
- 1984, George Orwell
- Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton
- The Once and Future King. T. H. White
- Old Man in the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
Admittedly, (don’t tell my son), I was not an avid reader as a 15-year-old boy in the 1970’s Why read when you can watch reruns of Hogan’s Heroes, The Dick van Dyke Show and Gilligan’s Island? What I soon learned was that my older brother and sister had to read most of the same books. Once in a while they would leave lying around a distinctively yellow and black “Cliff Notes” booklet. They were a treasure when I found them. They contained a description of the books I was supposed to read. A listing of characters, the main story lines, plot developments and explanation of the symbolism. I learned how to talk about a book I never read.
At that same time in life I found another great resource. Not one left by my brother and sister. No, this resource for the lazy was sitting in every doctor’s office in America. The Reader’s Digest was a magazine that picked the most interesting parts of other magazines and books and put them into one easy to read monthly magazine. Who needs to go to the library or read full articles or newspapers – just read the Reader’s Digest version. It became such a common idea that when someone was telling a long story you could simply beg them “Please give me the Reader’s Digest version.”
Well today we get a Cliff Notes version of the Reader’s Digest version of the first 6 books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua).
If you read Joshua 24:1 – 14 you get the basic idea. God had a special relationship with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and he continues that relationship with their descendents. He led them out of slavery in Egypt, through the desert into the promised land. After he did all that for them over hundred’s of years he asks two things of them in one verse.
Joshua 24: 14
14 “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone.
He asks the Israelites to:
- Fear and serve the Lord with their whole heart.
- Put away forever the idols.
That’s it. Pretty simple, isn’t it?
Naturally, the Israelites promise to obey and do as Joshua asks them. They destroy the idols and dedicate themselves to fear and serve the Lord.
Well as we continue in our chronological journey, we will see it was not as simple as they thought. They just can’t seem to keep a promise.
PS: In case my son is reading this – I regret to this day not having read all those books. As you know, I have been trying to read some of those books that were assigned to me 30 years ago. Unfortunately, I will be a bit late in turning in my book reports. Thankfully, I know that reading is a big part of your life these days. Good for you!