The man I write about was not a greedy man. He died in a mine in Corbin, Montana. Reported to be a decent, kind, and mostly jovial man, he occasionally helped fellow miners, struggling to make ends meet. He modeled what it means to be decent with his interactions with other men.
Colonel Thornby, a local newspaper owner in Deadwood, South Dakota, described this man in the Weekly Pioneer-Times, July 13, 1905 issue as a man who possessed a balanced mind – a mind more balanced than most of the miners he encountered.
Our man prospected throughout the west when he came upon the gold rich ground of the Black Hills. His prospecting side kick was Hank Harnesy, a Texas cowboy.
Moses! Our gold mining friend carried the name: Moses. When Moses and Hank came to the outcroppings of what became their gold mine in 1876, Moses grasped gold-rich raw materials in this hand, and while looking at it, Moses eyes streamed with tears dropping to the ground.
Moses turned to Hank, his partner as he said, “There is a homestake!” For Moses and Hank and other miners, a “homestake” was a local expression meaning that this is a sufficient amount to take back East. Hence, Hometsake Mine was named.
Hank, Moses his brother Fred and a Mr. Alex Engh co-owned the mine. A few months later, a H. B. Young purchased a few feet of the mine claim. In 1877, about a year after the founding of the mine, the infamous, Mr. George Hearst, father of the media tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, desired to purchase the 10 acre Homestake Mine.
Moses represented himself and his partners. The men met in the Welch House Hotel in Deadwood. The walls of the rooms consisted of board sheathing covered by a thin cloth. Any conversation spoken in one room could be heard in the adjacent room.
After a rather intense session of negotiation, Mr. Hearst and Moses agreed on a price between $70,000.00 and $75,000.00. Mr. Hearst had a set price and Moses wanted more. Finally, Mr. Hearst argued that neither Moses nor he could see into the ground. As a result, if the mine failed, Hearst’s partners would call this adventure “One of George Hearst’s foolish follies.” Moses agreed to the price Hearst offered.
Upon meeting with the newspaper editor, Colonel Thornby, Mr. Hearst said this about Moses, “Moses Manuel is a philosopher. In all my experiences I have never met a more intelligent prospector. Had he been an educated man, he would make a great lawyer. He made the best argument I have ever heard, and I have heard thousands on the sale of a mine. “
Between 1876 and 2001, the Homestake Mine produced 40 MILLION ounces of gold. The price of gold on December 9, 2018 is $1250.00 dollars per ounce. Forty million ounces today would be worth $5 billion dollars.
The temporal wealth of all the world’s gold mines fall short of the eternal riches of God’s glorious Word! (Click here to tweet).
GROUND RULES FOR MINING THE GOLD OF THE EPISTLES
Rule 1 – Letters are the major literary form of the New Testament.
Rule 2 – Letters were generally less formal, more personal and based on past relationships. See Philemon as an example.
Rule 3 – Letters often corrected or exposed a situation in a local church or in the life of a person or persons. See Galatians, 1 Corinthians, Philippians and 1 Thessalonians for samples.
Rule 4 – Epistles tend to be more formal, self-explanatory treatises written to a wider audience.
Rule 5 – The distinction between Paul’s letters and epistles often blur.
Rule 6 – Paul’s letters and epistles from early were addressed to churches with the intention of being obeyed (2 Thess 3:14), swapped (Col 4:16) and understood to be the Word of God (1 Cor 14: 37-38; 1 Thess 2:13).
Rule 7 – Paul’s letters and epistles gained the reputation of being binding on both churches and individuals, even for churches founded by others (2 Pet 3:15-16).
FIVE PARTS OF A FIRST CENTURY LETTER/EPISTLE
When beginning to study the letters or epistles of the New Testament, remember these five elements may or may not be found in every letter. However, these five parts are normative and should be expected. If one is missing, one might desire to discover the why it is missing, if possible. Only a brief explanation of these 5 parts is presented here.
Part 1 – Salutation – normally there is a reference to author/sender of the letter and the recipients – “Paul, an apostle, to the Thessalonians…” This is followed by a tradition greeting of blessings. Occasionally the author states whey he is writing.
Part 2 – Thanksgiving and / or Prayer – All of Paul’ letters have a thanksgiving except Galatians.
Part 3 – Body – This normally contains most of the space of Paul’s letters.
Part 4 – Exhortation and instruction – See Romans 12:1-15:32; 1 Corinthians 3:1-16:18.
Part 5 – Conclusion – Wishes for peace, the offering of a holy kiss, a concluding paragraph, benedictions, doxologies, greeting to other believers, prayers and prayer requests are some of the concluding remarks found in Paul’s letters.
HOW CAN WE UNEARTH THE RICH GOLD FOUND IN THE EPISTLES?
Step 1 – Read the entire letter in one siting. If this letter was from someone special to you, you wouldn’t put it down until you had read, and maybe even, re-read parts of it. Why short change yourself by reading a few verses and the letter aside? You might find it helpful to use an online service where you can delete the chapter and verses before you begin to read. This may radically change how you read.
Step 2 – Read the letter seeking to learn its historical context. You may find it helpful to use study helps – Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias, and commentaries. Look for information related to the author and the recipients: their cultural, historical, and relationship background. Discover the date and place of writing. Explore the reason for writing the letter. Highlight the circumstances before, during and after the letter was written, if possible.
Step 3 – Using a Bible with paragraph divisions, trace the flow of thought throughout the book. Notice important words and themes. You could number each paragraph and write a one sentence summary beside the paragraphs. Then, produce a working summary of the contents for quick review. Notice transition words, like, therefore, and, but, however etc. Complete this step with a ONE SENTENCE summary of what you feel is the author’s intended message to his audience.
Step 4: Write out theological principles discovered in Step 3. Make this present tense verbal statements summarizing the intended truths of the author as presented to his audience. Jack Kuhatschek in his book, Applying the Bible, presents three qualifying questions to use: 1) Does the author state a principle? 2) Does the broader context of the text state or reveal a theological principle? 3) Why was the particular teaching, exhortation or command stated?
Step 5: How does our theological principle(s) agree or disagree with the rest of the Bible? Are there other passages that teach the same truths or do other passages contradict my theological principle? Allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Permit one Scripture to illumine other passages. We hold to a basic conviction that Scripture never contradicts itself.
Step 6; Ask how does a believer seek to live out the theological principles presented in Step 5? 1) Begin by reviewing the principle in light of the original situation in the epistle or letter. 2) Explore a situation in our lives which corresponds to the principle. 3) Be specific with the application in real life terms that match the truth found in the letters or epistles.
Join Me this week …
This week – Would you be bold enough to respond to this blog by sharing with me and others who read this blog what you are studying what God is teaching you through his Word. The same principles work with any other genre in Scripture that has an historical background to be discovered. How are you applying it today? I will start:
On Sunday evenings I am teaching through the book of Joshua with our small group at church. We will be exploring Joshua 8. As I studied this chapter, I discovered the principle that we can return to gain victory at places of previous defeat if we remind ourselves of that God’s plan leads to victory if we only trust God and obey Him completely.