From Genesis to Revelation
 
Exciting things are happening at Westridge!  The 4th, 5th, and 6th grade class is about to begin a Journey Through the Bible.  We’ll be reading from Genesis to Revelation and digging deep into the scripture by looking at archaeology, scientific proof, and culture and foods of the day, with crafts, activities, and acting out scenes in costume to cement the stories into our minds.
 
 

 

The classroom has been redone to give the ambience of bible lands from the moment you step through the door.  This is total immersion into the time and place of bible characters to make it as real as we possibly can in 2018 in Pocahontas, Arkansas.
 
 
 
As we study each book of the Bible, students will add another card to their ring (66 in all).  These cards tell the basic ideas in each book, how it pertains to their lives, and what key points and stories are contained within that book.  They can be used as a quick reference to help with study later on. 

 

We’ll be adding to the Journey Through the Bible notebooks with useful and interesting information to bring the stories to life.  And at the end of the course, students will receive a beautiful bible that they’ll be proud to use for years.
 
 
 
 

Check back periodically to see what we’re learning.

December 04, 2017
Our journey began this past Sunday with a small, but enthusiastic group of children.  Miss Edie and Miss Karen, who dressed as women from the bible, were eager to teach, share, and encourage.  In our excitement about the day we forgot to take pictures, but this morning, thanks to a very generous couple from Westridge, we have a new addition to our classroom:  A brand new Smart TV that we can view videos, maps and images, and other visuals on to enhance the learning experience.
 
We are excited, blessed, and thrilled.  This will be an exciting journey!  
 
December 24, 2017
The first two lessons in the Journey Through the Bible series were from Genesis.  We learned God created the earth and all that is in it and about the nature of God and how he reacts to sin. 
 
We are SO PROUD of our students.  They are eager to learn and each of them contributes to the class in comments, questions, and participation.
 
Since we are in the month of December, we decided to take a little diversion and talk about the birth of Christ and why God came to earth.  We spent one week discussing the prophesies that foretold the coming of the long awaited Messiah.
 
Then on Christmas Eve, we reenacted the manger scene and the coming of the Magi later on.  One of our elders joined us and we took the opportunity to ask him to be our narrator.
 
 
    
 
With scripts in hand, each child handled the scenes brilliantly. 
 
We discussed the gifts that the wise men brought when they visited Jesus later on.  Students were able to smell  frankincense and myrrh and we talked about the medicinal properties of these precious gifts.
 
Afterwards we sang “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night”.  We have some good singers in the class and hearing “Silent Night” sung by sweet innocent voices is a beautiful sound indeed.  
 
When asked what they learned that they didn’t know before we acted out the scenes, something different stood out in each of their minds.  It was good to talk about what they remembered or noticed and to reinforce it with added discussion.
 
Since we celebrated the birth of Christ this week, we had a three layer birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.  Each student told us how they planned to celebrate Christmas.  And in every case, the first thing they mentioned was time with family.
 
Miss Edie and Miss Karen had planned to sing “Mary Did You Know?” to them, but to our delight and surprise, they all knew the song and we all sang it together.
 
Have I mentioned what an amazing group of kids these are?  In 45 minutes, we put on costumes, acted out an important scene from the bible, had discussions, songs, birthday cake, and a great time learning about the birth of our Savior.
 
Next week we’ll pick up where we left off in Genesis.
 
 
January 2018
 
This month we built alters!  
 
Each time God interacted with His followers in Genesis, they recognized it as a momentous occasion or place and alters were built to mark the spot. 
 
 
Noah built an alter and made a sacrifice to God when he came off the ark.  We are learning the importance of listening to and obeying God, as well as remembering and honoring Him.
 
The children love to act out scenes and who doesn’t love a good sword fight? 
 
So when the tribes were fighting and Lot was kidnapped from the scene of the tar pits (notice the black spots on the floor), they really got into it – the acting out part, not the tar.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Then when the visitors came and visited Abraham and Sarah there was more fun.  Sarah giggled from inside the tent at the idea that she would have a child in her old age, and the visitors were fed and shown great hospitality.  
 
 
Lot was rescued and Abraham’s character was seen in his refusal to accept any of the spoils.  He wanted his wealth to come from God.  We emphasize over and over in class what God expects from us and how He reacts to sin.  
 
As Abraham watched the destruction of Sodom (presented to the children as a city filled with sin, whose every thought was evil.  Period.), we watched a video of scientists who dug up sulfur balls embedded in ash at the actual site of where Sodom stood and took it back to their lab in New Zealand to test.  The sulfur turned out to be much purer than that we find in geothermal regions on earth, which means it would have burned much hotter.  Miss Edie and Miss Karen  burned some matches in a large can so the kids could smell the scent of sulfur.  This is the link to the video if you’d like to see it.  We found it exciting to see the actual site and to hear the scientific proof – further confirmation of what happened in the bible.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXaRqRsLFgI
 
Our goal is to make each story as real as possible so the children retain them and learn more about the character of God.
February, 2018
We are still working our way through Genesis.  There is so much to learn and Genesis sets the groundwork for everything to follow.
 
We’ve mentioned the notebooks that the students were given.  In keeping with the ‘bible lands’ look, and using the title we chose for our lesson series, the notebooks have a cover that says, “A Journey Through the Bible.”
 
Each student has made a bookmark that lets them locate their Bibles quickly and is customized with  stickers, color coding, and/or beads with their initials on them.  They put much thought into the colors and beads they would use to make these.
We are finally seeing God’s promise to Abraham and Isaac starting to come true.  Jacob’s life has many important lessons to learn.  We try to keep the kids interested and tuned into what we are teaching, and we couldn’t let the opportunity slip by to learn how to make a Jacob’s Ladder with string.  Miss Edie is an expert in Jacob’s Ladder making.  She says it is muscle memory from when she was a child.  Hopefully our children will gain muscle memory to make a string ladder and also to remember the story that goes along with it!
 
At the point we are reading now, Jacob has eleven of his sons.  We try to leave the students with a “cliffhanger” each week so they’ll want to come back and find out what happens next.  
 
From the very beginning we wanted to teach the song, “Trust and Obey”.  It’s a song Miss Edie and Miss Karen both remember from childhood and if you reduce the Bible teaching down as much as possible, we feel this is the essence of what we should be doing in our lives:  trusting God, and obeying His commands.  Each student has a copy in the front of their notebooks and we have one hanging on our wall to remind us how we are to live.  We’ll be singing this song often as a reminder to trust and obey.
 
 
 
 
March, 2018
 
This month we spent a considerable amount of time learning about Joseph.  Joseph’s story is an important one.  He was sold and imprisoned for something he did not do. He did not give in to temptation. He saved his people and forgave those who had wronged him.    Remind you of anyone?
 
In addition to learning about Joseph, we want the students to learn how having God on your side can turn a bad situation into a good one, as well as how the Old Testament stories connect to the New Testament.  The Bible is such an intricate story with twists and turns, excitement on every page, examples of what to do and what not to do, and a lifetime story of how God loves His people.
 
We watched videos and took advantage of some beautiful flannel board characters and posters to illustrate Joseph’s life.  We’ve added maps to the notebooks so they can see where these places are.  The notebooks are intended to be kept and used in study for as long as they need them.  We’ll be referring back to them from time to time as we study.  
 
On our dry-erase board, there is a square.  Each Sunday students are asked if there is anyone they want to pray for or something good that happened that week that they’d like to thank God for.  Names are written in the square and we pray for whatever concerns they have and give thanks for happy things.  We hope by this practice, they develop a relationship with God the Father and that we exhibit how to communicate with Him through prayer.
 
 
 
 
April 2018
 

This month we finished the book of Genesis.  What a great example Joseph’s life is to us and a great reminder that if we follow God, he is with us no matter what we go through in life.

We began the book of Exodus, and added a card to our ring of Books of the Bible.  This one is Psalms, which we have been studying from the beginning.  Psalms has something for everyone no matter if you are happy, sad, stressed, or if you want to plead with God or shout praises.  It’s all in there, and it makes us feel better to know that others have been through the same kinds of things we go through.  The Psalms are timeless.

Exodus shows us how far God will go to take care of his people.  Many people think of the Israelites as God’s chosen people – and they were.  But with Jesus’s resurrection came a new way and the inclusion of the Gentiles.  Now all are welcome at God’s table, and those of us who choose to follow Jesus and live for Him are also God’s chosen people.  How thrilling to think that we are the adopted children of the Most High!

In Exodus, we see the power and might of God in many wondrous and miraculous ways.  We now have the whole picture and it’s easy to judge the Israelites who witnessed God’s power, fury, and love first hand yet still fell away over and over again.  But whenever they came back to God, He forgave them.  That’s a great lesson for us.  And in striving to learn more and follow God, hopefully, we will fall away less and less and become more and more like Him.
 

Our class is made up of some pretty amazing kids.  They are deep thinkers and are learning by leaps and bounds.  It’s exciting to see the growth and the looks on their faces when the puzzle pieces start falling into place.

As we went through the plagues of Egypt, students expressed disbelief that Pharaoh kept denying the Israelites permission to go into the wilderness to worship God.  They take the stories to heart and really “get into” them, which is exciting to see.

As their time in Egypt came to an end, we read about the plagues and watched a movie clip of Moses throwing his staff down in front of Pharaoh.  Here is the link if you’d like to watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k2kxgoA_OM

Then we tasted unleavened bread and painted the saran wrap covered door frame with “blood” to emphasize God’s care over his people.  We often talk about the correlations of Old Testament stories to the New Testament.  The students are quick to make the connections.  They now understand that the life-giving blood of the lamb saved the Israelites and that Jesus is the lamb that saves us today.
 
When we got to the crossing of the Red Sea, no one but Hollywood could recreate such a dramatic scene, so we once again, watched a clip from The Ten Commandments.  We are careful with clips since the movies generally take liberties with added dialogue, but this one was fairly close and the parting of the sea was impressive.  God went to great measures to save His people and to show the Israelites and the Egyptians that He is the One true God and all others are insignificant.  
May 2018
 
 
This month we journeyed with the Israelites through the wilderness.  We held a Wilderness meal to remember all that God did for His people as they made this long trek toward the Promised Land.
On the menu:  Quail and our version of Manna (which I admit needs work).  We added to that, oven roasted potatoes, fresh green beans, and garlic bread.  Our kids loved it and most went back for seconds!
 
While we finished the meal preparations, the kids made ice cream for dessert.
Everyone had name tags on their back with a character’s name – from Adam to Moses.  We had to ask questions to figure out who we were.  The students were quick to figure out their names, which made their teachers very proud.
 
It was a fun afternoon and a good way for them to bond.
 
We want these children to become lifelong friends so their base of friendship is made up of wholesome, spiritual-minded people from here on out.
 
 
 
 
As Mother’s Day rolled around,we were studying the Ten Commandments.  What a great time to be learning about honoring our mothers and fathers.  The students planted flowers to give their moms for Mother’s Day.
 
 
June 2018
 
When Moses came down the mountain carrying the tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them, he was met by a scene so blasphemous he threw the tablets down and shattered them in anger.  In his absence, the Israelites had committed an unbelievable sin and had broken the first commandment:  You shall have no other gods before Me. 
 
We see over and over how short their memory was.  Moses’s response was to grind the golden calf up and make them drink it.  They would never again be able to melt that gold down and make an idol!  God was so angry He brought a plague on them.  Moses again went up the mountain and God engraved a new set of commandments and he received detailed instructions on how to build a portable Tabernacle that God would reside in with the people inside the camp.  It may have been God’s desire to be with them, but living within the camp, He would be a constant reminder to the people in the cloud by day and pillar of fire at night.  Every time the Israelites looked out their tents, they would see God’s presence, and God would lead them for many years through the desert toward the Promised Land.
 
In order to learn about their lives during the years in the wilderness, we’ve begun building our own Temple in class.  
 
Our model has over 300 pieces and will be quite elaborate when finished.  It includes curtains, all the articles inside the temple (ark of the covenant with tablets, lamp, table with bread, incense alter, basin, alter for burnt offering, priests, people, animals, coverings for the tabernacle, and all the fencing).  It is quite the project and we are discussing each piece and what it means as we put it together.
 
God’s blueprint was very specific and intricate.  The Tabernacle was elaborate and only the finest materials were used.  The people willingly brought gold, silver and bronze, precious stones, colored yarns, and donated labor to make it exactly as God specified.  
 
 
 
Aaron and his sons would serve as priests, and God had special garments made for them so they would be recognized as priests and a medallion on their turbans saying, “Holy to the Lord”.  Their tunics were embroidered on the hem with pomegranates in blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and between each pomegranate, bells were attached.  There is no way the priests could be overlooked or mistaken for a regular person.  God made sure everyone knew they were in His service and that they were consecrated.
From left to right:  In front of the Tabernacle was a basin for the priests to wash their feet and hands before they entered.  Behind the posts, there is a curtain.  Once inside the Tent of Meeting, there is a lamp stand hammered out of pure gold.  This was made from one solid piece of gold weighing one Talent – or about 75 lbs.  Across from the lamp is a table that held twelve loaves of bread.  These were stacked on the table and represented the twelve sons of Israel.  The table was overlaid with gold and had gold rings with poles to carry it by.  In front of the Holy of Holies was an alter for incense.  It too, was overlaid with gold and carried by poles.  Then there is the curtain separating the Tent of Meeting from the Holy of Holies, or the place where God resided.  Inside the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant, containing the tablets and covered by the atonement cover, or mercy seat.
 
 
There is so much symbolism in all of this and it is interesting to see how it all relates to the New Testament.  We all give willingly of our resources today.  It might be your time, skills, or money.  The Israelites gave willingly of their gold, gemstones, labor, and other materials to build the Tabernacle.  There is pride of ownership in something you make with your own hands.  That applies just as much today as it did in Moses’s day.   They had to have been proud of their excellent work.  The fact that so many of the pieces were carried by poles signified that it was Holy and not to be touched or defiled with dirty hands.
 
Sin cannot enter the holiest place.  So the sacrifices were done outside the Tabernacle in the courtyard.  Jesus took on the sin of the world and his death was outside the city, outside of Heaven.  There are no accidents in God’s plan for the world and the more we study, the more we can see how tightly woven the tapestry is.  
 
The Tabernacle was to be set up on the first day of the first month of the year.  Why?  That was the day God led them out of Egypt.  It was the beginning of the Israelite nation.  It was a day to celebrate and remember.  Similarly, we celebrate July 4th as a day when America proclaimed their independence from English rule.   
 
When all the pieces being made were finished, the people brought them to Moses to inspect.  Moses looked at each piece and it was all done just as the Lord had commanded.  God didn’t suggest they make things a certain way.  He commanded it.  And because they followed God’s directions, Moses blessed them.
 
After the golden calf debacle, it must have warmed their hearts to receive this blessing.
 
Next Sunday we’ll finish the book of Exodus and continue on the journey with God through the wilderness.
 
 
July 2018
 
The month is only half over, but we are excited to reveal the Tabernacle we built.  
 
Here you can see an overhead view of the Tabernacle and a view from the front gate.  We left the coverings over the Tabernacle unfastened on one side so we can flip them up and see what’s inside.
Inside in the Holy of Holies is an embroidered curtain separating it from the rest of the Tabernacle.  The Ark of the Covenant is inside the Holy of Holies and inside the Ark are the two tablets, Aaron’s rod that budded, and a container of manna.
 
Outside in the front part is an alter for incense, a table with the twelve loaves of bread, and a lamp stand.  There is also a curtain to the outside courtyard.
 
In front of the Tabernacle is a basin for the priests to wash their feet and hands before they enter.
 
Curtains of white linen surround the courtyard, where the alter is located.  You can see the livestock and priests in the courtyard.
 
 
It took us a month of classes to construct the Tabernacle, but as we built, we discussed what each item is made of and the purpose of each one of them.  It was a lot of work and the students did each step of the work themselves.
 
When it was all finished, Moses sacrificed to God and then the Glory of the Lord settled over the Tabernacle.
 
The Glory of God over the Tabernacle
One student said it would make her feel safe to look out her tent and be able to see God’s presence in the camp.  We all agreed with her.
 
As we begin the book of Leviticus, we’ll look back at the Tabernacle to visualize what life was like for the Israelites in the wilderness.
 
When the cloud lifts and God tells them to move, we now have a greater appreciation for the work involved in taking down the Tabernacle and packing it to move.  Our Tabernacle is a 1/90th scale model of the real thing.  
We saw an excellent video tour of the Tabernacle with correlations to us as New Testament Christians:
 
August 2018
 
This was a month filled with study.  We finished the book of Leviticus and began the book of Numbers. 
 
God is an orderly God.  He specified everything possible about the Tabernacle, including how and in what order the tribes were to camp.  Since they only counted the men, and since the numbers were between 35,000 and 70,000 per tribe, you can see how vast an area each tribe would have taken up.  Our tabernacle is a 1/90 scale model.  This would have been a very large city if everyone was counted.
Students wrote each tribe name on a card and placed them out as God specified around the Tabernacle.
 
The Levite tribes camped inside the circle of the other tribes, next to the Tabernacle.
The Levites were made up of several different tribes.  We knew from putting together the model of the Tabernacle, how much work was involved to set up and take down all of it in preparation to move.
 
But each tribe was in charge of a taking down a certain area and had certain jobs to take care of it when it was assembled.
 
God made sure the Levites were a well oiled machine when it came to taking care of His residence.  
 
It was good to build the model.  It showed the students how much care was given to the place God would reside within them.  He was the center of camp and of their lives, just as He should be the center of our lives.
 
 
September 2018
This past weekend a group of Westridge students went to an “Out of This World” youth rally at Harrison, AR.  We had a blast learning from the book of John.
After all that learning, they had time to run and expend a little energy before having ice cream and heading home.
        Our Tabernacle model has served us well as the Israelites journeyed through the wilderness for forty years.  Now, they are at the border and about to begin their journey into the Promised Land.  All of Moab is in fear because the Israelites are at their borders.  So Balak sends for Balaam to ask him to curse the Israelites.  God specifically tells Balaam not to go, but he goes anyway. 
        The Angel of the Lord appears before them, but only Balaam’s donkey can see the angel.  The donkey is afraid and cowers near a rock wall, crushing Balaam’s foot.  Balaam in anger strikes the donkey.  She eventually lays down and Balaam reacts by striking her again and again until God opens the donkey’s mouth and she speaks!  The Lord opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the Angel and realized he had sinned by not obeying God.          Sometimes we go our own way and forget to listen to God’s directions.  That’s what Balaam did, but as soon as he saw the Angel, he realized his error.  It took an unusual occurrence like a donkey speaking to wake him up.  We had fun acting out the  scenes and discussing it afterwards.
 
Miss Edie made a beautiful donkey, whose mouth actually moved to emphasize just how amazing this event really was and to bring it to life.
A little horn blowing and marching is a nice break from sitting in a classroom.
 October 2018
 
The Israelites have finally reached the border of Canaan after 40 years of wandering in the desert toward the Promised Land.  With assistance from Rahab, a woman who lived in Jericho, they scoped out the city and were hidden from the men who tried to arrest them.  Rahab had heard about all the wonders God had done in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness, and in exchange for concealing the Israelite spies, she asked for protection for herself and her family when they took the city of Jericho.  Here was a woman living in a pagan land who believed.
 
The spies returned home and the Israelite soldiers invaded and marched around the city once every day, blowing their trumpets.  There were over 600,000 soldiers.  This must have been frightening to the people inside the city, but Rahab and her family were secure in her home against the city wall with the red cord hanging out her window.  On the seventh day, the soldiers marched around Jericho seven times blowing their trumpets.  After that they blew one long blast, shouted loudly, and the walls fell down!  
 
The first five books of the Bible have been laborious for students to learn about, but now the real action begins!  We are proud of them for sticking with us through the books of the Law.  
 
 
Fear and discontent set in when the Israelites were defeated the first time at Ai.  But we saw once again, that God does not tolerate sin when Achan was stoned for taking some of the forbidden objects from Jericho and hiding them.  God did not help them in battle the next time and they lost 36 men at Ai as a result of Achan’s actions.  Bolstered by God, and reminded that He would defeat their enemies if  they would obey, they once again attacked Ai with the help of God’s brilliant military strategy – and this time they won.  
 
Our students recreated the battle at Ai with the box as the city walls and lots of little plastic army men as the soldiers.
 
To honor God for defeating their enemies at Ai, they built an alter and made sacrifices on it to God.
 
They lined up on both sides of the Ark of the Covenant, facing the priests, and Joshua read the entire Law to the entire assembly – men, women, and children.  He did not skip any of it.  
 
Joshua has been a worthy successor to Moses.