Tag Archives: Old Testament

The Bible in 3D – Press Release


The full website and details are here. Below is the press release which was prepared today after we did the photo shoot.

For most people, reading the Bible is like watching a foreign movie with no subtitles. A seminar in Katoomba on 22 March 2014 will take the mystery away and make it jump off the page… in 3D.

Doug Haley and Mike Bull, both from Katoomba, and Albert Garlando from Sydney, are holding a one day seminar in the ballroom of the Carrington Hotel for Bible readers and lovers of great literature. It is designed to show how the ancient texts use the same techniques to connect with people as the screenwriters, directors and musicians behind today’s pop culture.

“Modern readers see texts as flat transmissions of data, so they miss a whole channel of communication,” said Mike Bull. “To compensate, Bible scholars have given us a list of rules which is as long as the Bible itself! But the Bible is just like any other well-crafted book. You just dive right in and let the author fill you in as you go along. We’ll show you how the ancient writers added depth using clever tools like symbols, symmetry, repetition and fractals.”

“The good thing is that the best TV shows and movies are using these sorts of things more and more in their stories. The Bible is a very visual, artistic and musical book, so this new generation raised on visual media already has all the skills they need to understand and enjoy it.”

“The most surprising payoff is the book of Revelation. Readers don’t get what it’s about because they don’t have the books of Moses under their skin. It’s like watching Shrek with no familiarity with the fairy tales, nursery rhymes or pop culture behind its clever references and ironic jokes. Watching Shrek is good training for Bible study!”

Doug Haley, who is doing a PhD on Isaiah and tutoring in Old Testament at the University of Sydney, will introduce the Bible’s visual language. Mike Bull, a local graphic designer and theology blogger, will explain the literary devices. Albert Garlando is a pastor in Sydney, and he will talk about how all this highbrow stuff plays out in life and ministry.

For info on the seminars and a free ebook, visit

Full contact details:

Michael Bull
PO Box 331
Katoomba NSW 2780
T 0419 415 056
info @

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Posted by on 24/07/2013 in Bible, Hermenutics, Theology


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Benefits of Leviticus

I am about to end a 7 week study of the first 7 chapters of the Old Testament book Leviticus. This section of the book deals with the sacrificial system of worship used in Israel from 1446BC when they left Egypt up to about AD70 when the last temple was destroyed.

This book has been ridiculed and attacked because of the strong indictments it makes against purification and ceremonial behaviours that Israel was to abstain from. These seem too harsh for the post modern sensitive eclectic spiritualists and anti-theists. Many Christians have shied away from the book instead of engaging it head on to deal with the counter cultural precepts it has.

My 7 week study didn’t get to the controversial personal purity laws – that comes later on, maybe next year😉 Instead, I focused on the ritual sacrifice ceremonies introduced at the beginning and sought to understand how these fit into the overall story of the Bible and, what, if any, instruction or relevance they have for anyone today.

Why not teach something easier or a little more directly applicable to a modern hearer? Why not emphasise Bible stories or passages that have universal appeal on matters of peace, harmony and personal fulfilment? To answer that, a few months ago, before starting the series, I jotted down a few of the benefits of studying Leviticus. Some of these apply to any book of the Bible and some are specific to Leviticus.

1. All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable. Full stop. Period. c.f. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If the reliability and authority of the Bible is impugned by Leviticus than the rest of it is worth kindling. So, it is a worthwhile exercise to wrestle with this book, in an honest way, to understand it through historical and grammatical interpretation to find the original authorial intent and the original audience expectation (as much as may be possible with available internal and external evidentiary sources, references and support).

2. Psalm 119:130The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” i.e. through the reading and study of one part of the Bible we will improve and increase our understanding of other parts of the Bible. Instead of quoting one or two selective verses from the book of Leviticus and making a biased criticism about how it is out of date, irrelevant, oppressive, sexist, discriminatory and contradictory, why not read all of it and see how it integrates with the rest of the Bible and perhaps resolves some of those concerns about the way some controversial topics are handled.

3. Leviticus provides an example of liturgy and right worship (by ‘right’, I mean both worshipping rightly and worshipping the right object). Leviticus shows that worship includes fear, confession of sin, death of a substitute in the place of the sinner, rescue and redemption of the sinner, praise and thanksgiving.

4. Leviticus reinforces the covenantal patterns of how God relates to his creation. In the process of creation, destruction and recreation we have vivid instruction that leads to a fuller understanding of life, death, resurrection and glorification.

5. Leviticus fills out our understanding of many of the theological terms used in the New Testament. e.g. sacrifice, atonement, forgiveness, sin, guilt, offering, peace, priest, purification, holy, unholy etc.

6. In contrast to Israel who approached their worship with trepidation, we enter God’s presence boldly through Jesus who has perfectly completed all the types, symbols and ceremonies of the Law. He is our righteousness, peace, sanctification, sacrifice, atonement, heavenly bread, high priest, scapegoat and retribution for our sin.

7. Leviticus points us to Jesus as the ceremonies and rituals anticipate one who is greater that will forever satisfy the justice and share the mercy of God.

What other benefits have you enjoyed from studying the book of Leviticus?


Posted by on 05/09/2012 in Bible, Hermenutics, Jesus, Preaching, Theology


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Heaven on Earth?

An idea often found in Christian devotionals is to equate the entry heaven with occupation of Canaan by Israel under Joshua. This creates a very confusing image of heaven. Surely heaven is not a place of conflict but a rest from all conflicts? This type of interpretation misses the point and purpose of the book of Joshua.

Drawing from my notes taken during my Bible College Old Testament History class way back last century I offer the following thoughts about the significance of the story of Joshua.

The occupation of Canaan is not representative of the believer entering Heaven. Canaan is inherited through testing that results in maturity and conquest leading to rest. Canaan is the picture of the believer’s present position and possession in Christ (Heb 3:1 – 4:16).

A Christian is not given a ticket that allows them to escape the singe of hell before they enjoy a free ride to heaven. Those who enter into covenant with God have received the Word of God, are called to obey it, or be rejected by it. The life of persevering faith will involve an active, intentional fight against sin as you strive towards holiness to appropriate what God offers you in Christ (1 Cor 10:1-14, Heb 12:14-17, 2 Pet 1:5-9, Phil 2:12-13, 1 Thes 5:24).

What should the Christian take away from the book of Joshua? We live and work from a position of victory, but we must not surrender to apathy and presumption (Rom 6:1-23).

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Posted by on 10/05/2012 in General


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Swallowing a lie

The Bible pattern tells us how God reveals himself, how we receive his revelation (i.e. We eat it and make it part of ourselves) and how we exercise stewardship of his Word in our world. (i.e. Word, Sacrament & Government)

The fall into sin, told in Genesis 3, shows us what happens when God’s Word is not received. Instead of producing maturity, experiencing conquest and resting in satisfaction we are undone, unmade and destroyed.

Consider the events as they unfold in Genesis 2-3. Note the forming & filling pattern. Although in this instance the progress (or regress!) pivots on the testing of Adam and follows the ‘banquet‘ chiasm.


Adam is created in the image of God and given God’s Word / Law. Gen 2:16-17

Adam is divided (blood is shed, his rib removed) and Eve is made. Gen 2:20-21

They are brought together in a covenant of marriage. Gen 2:22-25


Adam, as high priest guardian & protector of Eve & Eden is tested. Gen 3:1-6

Maturity (or immaturity)
Adam seizes the fruit (takes things into his own hands, literally) and tries to cover his disobedience with fig leaves. Gen 3:7

Conquest (or defeat)
God uncovers Adam’s sin & covers it with blood of an innocent animal. He is outside the angelic veil and no longer in the promised land. Gen 3:8-13, 21-24


Glorification / Rest (or pain / suffering)
Adam’s failed dominion is inherited by his offspring. Gen 5:3

Related Post
Where did we go wrong?

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Posted by on 16/04/2012 in Bible


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Because he built it, he will fill it

Is the world around us a mistake or an accident? If God made the world and everything in it, did Adam and Eve somehow upset everything and cause God to revert to “Plan B”?

The kingdom of God on earth started in Eden with the days of creation in Genesis 1. God sets the universe in motion and provides a template of forming and filling used during the entire Bible story.

The first stage of the 7 day pattern relates to new life. It starts with God speaking and his Word gives life. The way we receive faith and start our spiritual life is through God’s Word. (Rom 10:17, 1 Pet 1:23)

The seven day creation consists of 3 days of forming parallel to 3 days of filling*. In the same way you would build shelves in your house. First you erect the frame and then you fill the shelves with your belongings. The belongings don’t replace the shelves, they fill them. The New Testament did not replace the Old Testament, it filled it. (Matt 5:17-19, Heb 3:1-6)

The final day of Creation is a day of Rest, it anticipates our future and the rest that God desires to give us. (Matt 11:28-30, Heb 4:9-11)

Forming (by dividing)

Day 1 – Light & Dark

Day 2 – Firmament – Divided Waters (Sky & Sea)

Day 3 – Land & Sea, Grain & Fruit plants

Filling (with multitudes)

Day 4 – Sun, Moon & Stars

Day 5 – Swarms of Birds & Fish

Day 6 – Land Animals & Man


Day 7 – Stop, Rest, Hallow & Enjoy

(*Bull, Bible Matrix, pp.46-47)


Posted by on 10/04/2012 in Bible, Hermenutics


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Welcome to the feast

The greatest story ever told has a scope and complexity in its narrative and characters that exceeds all known literature. To some, it is a mysterious volume of allegorical myths. To others, it is a mass of contradictions. It is the story of God and his creation, involvement with and salvation of man. It gets messy, because people are messy, but God’s purpose is not thwarted. The greatest story ever told is not great because man figured out how to salvage himself. It is great because God, driven by love, has, through patience and mercy saved men.

Welcome to the Feast

In the Bible, we are guests at God’s banquet. A modern reader struggles to make sense of this story written so differently to our modern texts and popular novels. The structure of the Bible story is based upon Israel’s festival calendar (detailed in Leviticus 23). Consider the pattern or process you might follow when hosting a dinner party. Our to-do list is arranged to illustrate its parallel structure:

A. You send your invitations

B. You cover the table with a cloth

C. You lay out place settings & cutlery

D. The guests are seated

C1. The food and wine is served

B1. The feast is consumed

A1. You recline, full & satisfied with an digestif

The invitation (A) anticipates the satisfied diners at the end of the party (A1).
The table cloth (B) dedicates the table for the dinner (B1).
The placement of the cutlery (C) is matched with it’s use to eat the food (C1).
At the center of this event, the guests (D) are seated. Will they partake of the meal? Will they enjoy the party? It’s a simplistic example, but hopefully you see a parallel cycle of forward movement.

The Bible story is similar. God has given us an invitation, he has prepared life for us, he has called us to himself, he has given us his Word. Will we receive it? Will we make it a part of ourselves? When we do, we have “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (c.f. 2 Peter 1:11).

From the beginning of the Bible God has purposely laid the table for us so that we can read, follow the pattern and enjoy feasting on his Word.

The pattern starts in Genesis 1, continues through the Old Testament, and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The exact details of the pattern will vary using different motifs, allusions and imagery, but the goal of the process is the same.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. … And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. ~ 1 John 5:13, 20

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Posted by on 06/04/2012 in Bible


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Where did we go wrong?

What is wrong with the world? Or this country? City? That weird guy on the bus? You?

Creation got off to a “very good” start, until a man, Adam by name, attempted to seize (usurp/takeover/stage a coup) God’s kingdom instead of receiving it as a free gift.

A 7-fold process unfolds that shows us what went wrong and how we managed to end up with the trouble and difficulties we have today in our relationships with God, others and the environment.

  1. Adam is created in the image of God and given God’s Word / Law. Gen 2:16-17
  2. Adam is divided (blood is shed, his rib removed) and Eve is constructed. Gen 2:20-21
  3. They are brought together in a covenant of marriage. Gen 2:22-25
  4. Adam, as the high priest guardian & protector of both Eve & Eden is tested. Gen 3:1-6 (note the pronouns used here are all plural indicating that both Adam & Eve are involved in the temptation).
  5. Adam acts immaturely, seizes the fruit (takes things into his own hands, literally) and tries to cover his disobedience with inadequate fig leaves. Gen 3:7
  6. God uncovers Adam’s defeat by sin & covers it via shedding the blood of an innocent animal to give them animal skins for clothes. He is cast outside the angelic veil and no longer in the Edenic (promised) land. Gen 3:8-13, 21-24
  7. Instead of entering into rest and glory, Adam’s failed dominion is inherited by his offspring. Gen 5:3

Adam as representative of all people failed the test of whether he would open God’s Word, believe it, obey it and speak it to his bride. Dan Phillips in The World Tilting Gospel helpfully points out that if you argue that you don’t want him as your representative, you are already placing yourself in opposition to God and acting independently of his judgement – which means, you’ve just failed the test also. So we are sinners both by nature and by action.

The New Testament explains it as:

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. ~ Romans 5:12

Adams failure was 3-fold:

  • Failed Priest – His job was to Guard & Protect the Garden. Instead of crushing the serpents head with his heel, he lets him by. Sin enters the world due to this failure of Adam (as high priest) to guard the kingdom.
  • Failed Prophet – He was chosen to speak the Word of God. He should have reminded Eve of God’s promise and invited her to turn away from the forbidden tree and to eat from the Tree of Life. Instead, he stands silently while the serpent negotiates with Eve.
  • Failed King – As he was created in the image of God and given dominion over the animals, he had the authority to command the serpent and extend the kingdom. He behaved passively, yielded his place and lost the battle.

Adam’s great sin was to act independently of God. He passed this proclivity to his offspring, you and I. Since then our inclination has been to continue doing the same, to the detriment and destruction of ourselves, our fellow man and the environment we were meant to manage. So, what’s wrong with the world? Take a look in the mirror.


Posted by on 27/02/2012 in Bible, Hermenutics, Preaching, Theology


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