Why the Pentateuch is Important

(We are currently taking the students through the first 5 books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. I originally posted this on my personal blog a couple of years ago. Today I'm finding it is just as relevant and real as it was when I originally wrote it.)

Every year we go through the Pentateuch.
Every year I watch God create something out of nothing.
Every year I listen as He chooses a nation to be His own.
Every year I read the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.

And every year, through their stories, I’m reminded of who God is, because revelation of  His character is the point of their lives.

It’s amazing how quickly, how easily I forget. It’s incredible that I can go through these stories, and one month, one week, one day, or even one hour later…I forget. I doubt. I lose sight of the goal, of the One who makes the world go ’round.

Throughout the Pentateuch, what I see is consistent. God chooses, God saves, God makes the impossible possible, and the people mess up. They forget, over and over again all that He has done, all that He has promised, all that they have seen and heard. They choose to believe in their own strength rather than the power and supremacy of God.

And yet…God remains true to who He is. He is faithful to an unfaithful people. He accomplishes and fulfills the purposes and promises He has set.

Not because the people deserved it.
Not because they always believed Him.
Not because the people were good.

God does this because He loves His people. He is not obligated, He is not bound to them, He doesn’t need them.

But He loves them.

Love, when stemming from the One who defines it, changes the way life is lived. It’s no longer lived with “me” at the center, but with “Him” and “they” as the focus. Love takes doubt and smashes it against the foundation of the great I AM. The great I AM cannot be boxed in, cannot ever be fully described or fully known, and yet is ever the same. Love destroys hate, defeats death, casts out fear, and dies for the loved.

And yet I forget all this. So easily. So often. So completely. In the moments, days, and weeks when I’m not feeling well and I start to act like the Grinch, or I feel overwhelmed and start running around like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, or I feel as though my life has no meaning and become the Eeyore who sees nothing but gloom and doom – in these times I forget the Gospel. I forget what God has done in the stories of the lives of the people in the Bible I study every day. I forget the faithfulness that God has shown in my life.

And that’s what the Pentateuch does for me. It’s one of many reasons it’s so important to study, to know, to love. The command to remember.

Remember who God is: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Remember what He’s like: How did He treat the people He chose?
Remember what He’s done: What did He do in their lives?

And finally, what has He done for me?

A life filled with joy is a life filled with Jesus and remembering all that He’s done with and for me. It’s a life that knows, in the words of JJ Heller, “what love really means”.

Remember Love.

Our New Website

If it isn't obvious our new website is here! In addition to the new site we've also updated our payment and donation system. We now use Stripe to process all future payments. This change will hopefully reduce some costs on our end, helping your dollar go further at Emmaus as well as simplify donations going forward. If you've setup a recurring payments in the past nothing will change for now. If you would

We want to be upfront what the best way to give are. Using Visa/Mastercard/Discover is the easiest way to give and you can even setup recurring payments. Bank issued checks are also a great way to give (Ask your bank more about how to do this). We accept American Express but we encourage the other options as this is the most expensive card to process. But don't worry we cover all processing fees. This is just our way to arm you with the best information to support the ministry!

If you need help giving online, have a ministry or financial question contact our Staff here.
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Stephen Ray: God Has Declared Me, "Not Guilty"

2,000 years ago a man stood condemned in the Roman courts. This man claimed to be the living God, sent to earth to save humanity from sin and death. The penalty for his crime: death. The police tape had been taken down, the detectives had gone home, and the case was closed. Had they known the man was truly innocent, that the jury had been paid off from the start, they might have let him live. Unlike most dead men though, this one didn't stay dead. He rose! Suddenly sons and daughters began to prophesy, young men had visions, older men dreamed dreams, and the word of this Jesus Christ spread throughout the whole world.

Now, the case has been reopened, and you are left to answer the question: what happened?

My name is Stephen Ray. I am a recent college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication. I have been a student here at Emmaus for 3 months now. As a detective of Scripture it has been an incredible journey to see God’s hand through the pages of Scripture as well as in my own life. I grew up in the small town of Holly, MI. My Father has been a camp pastor of multiple camps all of my life. As a child I grew up traveling the country with my father watching him lead thousands of youth to Christ. As a child, when people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would respond with, “what my papa does”.

During the summers I found myself working at Camp Lurecrest in Lake Lure, NC. While working there the assistant camp director, David Butts, took me under his wing as a mentor. Knowing my heart for ministry and leadership, David told me over and over again, “Stephen, you've got to know your bible”. Camp Lurecrest was the current location of ESBS, and over the years I built a relationship with Tom Philips, and I knew years ago that I needed to come to this school.

Here at the school we take on the role of a detective. Using the Inductive Bible Study method, we try to get back into the first century mindset so that we can get a full understanding of the text. We watch the police tape and reopen the case. One of my biggest frustrations was leaving the first few cases, Philemon, Philippians, and Ephesians feeling like I


know every detail. It took a while to realize that I


leave every case with having memorized every detail. I realized this when one of our teachers told us that this year we are here only to start the investigation, these cases will have to be revisited in the years to come.

While being a detective of the gospel, the most eye opening discovery happened in the case that I’d forgotten about. All throughout the New Testament we see that those who believe in Jesus are called righteous. To be righteous before God means that in the courts of heaven you have been legally declared, “not guilty”. Not only have those who believed in Christ been declared, “not guilty”, but we have been given the very righteousness of Christ. As I have spent more time learning the Bible I see more how God views me.

I thought I was coming here to investigate the case closed 2,000 years ago. I did. But in reality, I came to solve the case of my own heart. As for that one, the verdict is in: Not Guilty.

Jerry Mitchell
Jerry Mitchell is one of our students this year. We are pleased to have him share his story with you of how and why he came to Emmaus. He was the first to apply and be accepted in the Emmaus class of 2017! We are so thankful for his heart to follow where God leads, his humility to listen as God speaks, and his desire to love and serve his fellow students while he's here.

"I ended up coming to the Emmaus School of Biblical Studies (ESBS) through no less than an act of God. I guess you could say that everyone who ends up at a school where all you do is study the Bible for ten months straight is always an act of God, however I completely recognize the work of God in getting me to this school.
I separated from the military during July 2016, where I served for five years. During these five years I was lucky enough to experience traveling the world to many exotic places. During the last of these journeys I ended up being stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Besides the adventure of living in Japan for two years I also had the pleasure of meeting Jon Black, who happened to be the Chaplin of the base chapel. Over the course of many months Jon and I's relationship grew into an amazing friendship and we developed a mentor/mentee connection.  One day, during one of our many get-togethers, Jon began to tell me of this really amazing school that he was on the board of and believed I would be a good fit for. That school happened to be ESBS. I took the next couple of months to pray about this school and eventually discerned that was where God was calling me to in the next chapter of my life. That was a year and a half ago and I can happily say that God is faithful and has brought me to this new place called Oviedo, Florida were ESBS is. It has been a month now since classes started and I can honestly say that I have been blown away by the experience thus far.
The thing that has impacted me the most so far about being here is learning how much I didn't know about my Bible. I grew up in the church. I heard all the stories and probably every sermon that you could imagine. But as the days go on here at ESBS the surprises never cease. God is using the instructors to peel back layer after layer of depth that I never knew the Bible contained. Whether it be looking at the historical context that each passage was written under or "color coding" until every page looks like a rainbow exploded onto it, I have been exposed to the beauty that truly is the Bible.
In a way that I believe only a School of Biblical Studies can do, ESBS has taken this thing I thought I knew so much about, the Bible, and has revealed to me the secrets and underlying truths buried beneath its covers. I can't wait to see what the rest of the school year entails."
S. Elisabeth1 Comment
Up and Running!
We are so pleased to announce that this Monday, August 15th, we began the tenth year of the Emmaus School of Biblical Studies!

Staff training & prep for student arrival

This is the tenth year of the school's existence, but the first year that we will be running it at Canterbury Retreat & Conference Center!

Tom teaching the importance of having a Biblical worldview

Things have been busy over the last couple of weeks as we have met, discussed different aspects of the school, bought food, set up dorm rooms, and picked up students from the airport. This week we are introducing them to the Inductive Bible Study method through the book of Philemon. Our students are already doing a fantastic job, and we are thoroughly enjoying getting to know them and having them get to know us. We have already seen them reach out to each other and begin to build a Gospel centered community that seeks to encourage each other in their pursuit of God and His will for their lives.

Classroom setup

Next week we will introduce the students to you. We will be taking individual as well as class pictures, so that you can follow along and put faces to the names of the ESBS class of 2017!
S. ElisabethComment