The Old Testament used a great many object lessons or parables for teaching spiritual truths and lessons to the people of God. In almost all instances these object lessons are still easily understood today.
An object lesson is the use of a physical object, sometimes in the context of a story, to illustrate a point or teach an important lesson or truth. By using a material object to illustrate the point of the lesson, it makes it more real to the listener.
Biblical object lessons were used both in the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament. By Jesus’ use of the Old Testament Object Lessons, he revealed that he considered the lessons of the old Testament were still viable and valuable as teachings in his time.
In order for object lessons to have the greatest impact, the people you are talking to need to be receptive to what you are trying to say, and you will need to say it in such as way that your audience understands.
An example of an object lesson might be 1 Samuel 16:6 where men are paraded before Samuel as possible candidates to be the King of Israel. The men saw the outward appearance and believed them to be the right person for the role, but God on the other hand, saw something different. The object lesson here is much like the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Seeing people for who and what they really are is far different than looking at beauty or outward appearance and judging based upon those qualities. The end result of the object lesson was that a man will usually be fooled by the outward appearance, or be led to believe someone to be other than they are if you are led by the “skin deep” part of things.
Today, we’ll require objects that speak to the people of today, since times have obviously changed since Old Testament times. Still, object lessons translated into terms that the youth or adults of today would relate to and understand, can be extremely useful in teaching good values and judgment.
Characteristics or photos of animals, which are not overly pleasant looking, could today be used to replace the “don’t judge by outward looks” lesson from the Old Testament.
One of the most powerful and hard-hitting object lessons that God uses in the Old Testament has to do with the power of prayer and faith in God. A landscape of bleached human bones was used to illustrate that prayer is a powerful and valuable tool for living. God, in order to illustrate the lesson, turned the field of skeletons into a living, breathing army. Using the vast and seemingly endless landscape of death, God illustrated that prayer, belief and obedience make nearly anything possible, even if it seems impossible.
While some people today use object lessons solely for Children’s sermons and teaching children and youth, they are practical for people of all ages. In fact, the instances in which object lessons are used in the Old Testament were mostly directed at adults. People of all ages can benefit from the use of object lessons that are found throughout the Bible. They are no less true today, and even for those who are not Christians, the Bible holds some important lessons on living.
MORE IDEAS? See “Creative Object Lessons”
200 page e-book that explains everything you need to know when planning your very own object lessons. It contains 90 fully developed object lesson ideas and another 200 object lesson starter ideas based on Biblical idioms and Names / Descriptions of God.
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