The fifth year of Sycamore Covenant Academy has begun with a bang. Though still relatively small in size, this ministry of our church that provides academic and discipleship training for home educated youth has grown this year as we have more students and teachers helping us than ever. What is exciting to me personally is the enthusiasm for learning and the friendships with the young people, parents and teachers that I enjoy. Yet perhaps most exciting is that not only am I teaching my standard math (Algebra II) and Greek (Beginning) courses, but this year I am also teaching Old Testament Survey.
My goal for this class is to hopefully give the students just a taste of the experience I had in seminary while sitting in the class of Dr. Clark Copeland. Class after class I would sit there and have him open up for me the Old Testament Scriptures in ways that I had never seen before. Just as the guys on the road to Emmaus had their hearts burning when Jesus explained the Scriptures to them (Luke 24:32) and the disciples had their minds opened that they might understand the Scriptures about Him (Luke 24:44-45), so I had that experience while attending class.
So not only am I preparing new lessons each week, learning to use a PowerPoint presentation for the first time (on our new SCA video projector!), and putting more hours in the classroom, but I am working to help these young people see Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. Like the rising sun in the picture above that serves as the backdrop for the opening title in PowerPoint for each class, the Law and the Prophets colorfully shine with the anticipated glory of the coming Christ.
One of my favorite moments thus far was to tell the class during our study of the book of Exodus that Moses is also a New Testament character, and then to ask them where he appeared. Then as they recalled the story of the Mount of Transfiguration, where Christ shined with a glory surpassing that of Moses on Mt. Sinai, we looked at what Moses and also Elijah (the Law and the Prophets being fulfilled!) discussed with him in Luke 9:30-31. The topic was Jesus’ “departure,” or, as it says in the Greek, His “exodus!” As the new Moses, Christ was preparing for the cross to provide His people an exodus from their slavery to sin. I don’t know if the students were excited, but I can testify that the teacher surely was!
Yet most of this course is taking place outside of the classroom. You see, as I prepare this Old Testament Survey, I am being stretched to clearly explain the whole counsel of God’s Word. I am seeing how little I actually know about the Book I have devoted my life to studying and teaching, and am feeling the weight of how careful I must be in accurately handling the word of truth before these young minds. I feel shame at how pitiful my devotion to the glorious Lamb of God really is, how casual my regard for His sovereignty can be, how quickly I forget or even disbelieve His promises. I start each study examining the Word of God carefully, like the students in Biology class looking at a specimen with the microscope. Yet how come it is that my studies so quickly turn to the feeling that I am the amoeba on the slide?
I guess what I’m seeing is that surveying the Old Testament really ends up in an exercise of the Old Testament surveying me. So though I can only pray that my students end up with burning hearts and opened eyes, so far the only result I can report is a dust-covered forehead of the teacher who, like the saints of old (i.e. sinners saved by grace), is overwhelmed again by the awe of the holy Lord.