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Ancient Pathways with Dave Hershey
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Ancient Pathways with Dave Hershey

Author: David Hershey

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In this podcast, pastor and teacher Dave Hershey invites you to walk on well trodden pathways that guide us to become the people we were created to be. As much as our culture and society has changed in the last decades (and centuries), the pathways to knowing God are what they have always been. On these ancient pathways, we will find wisdom from the women and men who have gone before us. As the prophet Jeremiah was told by God, “Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16, NRSV).As we enter these pathways, we will learn from the stories - stories of scripture, stories of humanity, stories of theology. Through telling stories and listening to the saints, we will move on our own path towards the divine.
22 Episodes
This week we get into one of the most challenging portions of scripture. Yes, the Law is confusing, weird and odd from time to time. Of course, the story of creation presents its own challenges (and not much gets people as fired up as a good ole ‘creation vs. evolution’ debate!). But now we get into the question: Does God command the use of violence?We will see that the scripture states that God commanded Israel to exterminate the Canaanites and take over their land. Next week I am going to offer a special episode to look more deeply at how to interpret these violent texts.In this episode, we kind of avoid the issue of whether God commands violence by looking at the story of two people - Rahab and Achan - to see however we answer the question of violence, God is fair and just. We see God always welcoming outsiders such as Rahab, in line with the plan for Abraham’s descendants to bless the nations. Conversely, we see that God shows no favoritism but when insiders such as Achan sin, they face judgment. 
In today’s episode we wrap up our brief, wholly insufficient, but hopefully helpful investigation of God’s Law. Last week we focused on how the Law is not some separate thing from God’s over-arching purpose for Israel (and humanity). Instead, God’s Law reveals that God has always acted with grace towards people. The Law was not to earn God’s love but was given after God had already acted in salvation and liberation. Thus, the Law was the sign of the covenant. In living this Law, Israel would be a kingdom of priests and a light to the nations. God’s mission would advance as Israel followed the Law.Today we look at how to interpret the Law. Honestly, there is stuff in there that is ridiculous and abhorrent. The key is to remember the Law is not meant to, and was never meant to, be a universal law for all times and places. It is rooted in a specific context. This does not mean it has no meaning for us, but we may need to dig deeper for meaning.Since the last few podcasts were about the Law, let me share a few helpful books on how to interpret the law and the Bible. The first two focus in on how to interpret the Old Testament while the next two step back and look at scripture as a whole. Finally, the last book listed shows how the Bible was interpreted prior to the Civil War and is a must read for anyone desiring to understand the history of Biblical interpretation in the USA.Is God a Moral Monster by Paul CopanGod Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist by David LambThe Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture has made us Unable to Read it by Peter EnnsInspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Learning to Love the Bible Again by Rachel Held EvansThe Civil War as a Theological Crisis by Mark Noll
In this episode, we dive into God’s Law. Kind of. The big emphasis for this episode is the Law was given after God had saved Israel from Egypt. God has always acted with grace; the Law was never meant to be something Israel followed in order to earn God’s love. This myth is something too many of us believed. God is the same from beginning to end and always moves towards humans in grace. The deeper point of the Law connects up with other themes we have touched on: in following the Law, Israel would be a light to the nations (A kingdom of priests, bringing blessing to the nations). 
In this episode, we pick up our story with the recently liberated Israelites as they journey out of Egypt. Before we get to God giving them the Law, we will look this week at the theme of God dwelling with them (and us!). God gives instructions for the tabernacle in the second half of Exodus, with this being the place where God dwells, and heaven and earth meet. From this, we jump ahead in the story, tracing God’s dwelling in the Temple, in Jesus, in the Church and in Us. I spoke on similar themes at my church this past Sunday; if you want to check that out you can find the podcast here:, a big thanks to Dan Lohin, CSF Berks alum and friend, for donating a nice microphone. He upgraded to a newer one, but his old microphone is an upgrade for me! So if the show quality is improved, that’s thanks to Dan!
This week we move into the story of Exodus! God continues to be the main character in the story: the God who created the cosmos and called Abraham to be the one through whom all nations would be blessed now acts to save and liberate Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites. This act of salvation and liberation is for the complete person, both material and spiritual. Further, this act of salvation sets the tone for salvation in all of scripture. When Jesus comes and works for salvation, it is essentially a new exodus. 
In this episode, we continue our journey through the story of scripture with the launching of God’s rescue operation. Genesis 1-11 paints a picture of the world that is quite familiar to us, a picture that includes both stunning beauty and terrible brokenness. God had created the first humans with the purpose to care for and cultivate God’s good world. Through the corruption of sin, humanity is just as liable to create horrific evil. God does not leave humans to wander in this broken state. Instead, God chooses one man, Abraham, as the instrument through whom God will restore and heal the nations. Of course, we soon find Abraham is a broken instrument...
In this episode, we begin our journey through the story of scripture at the beginning (makes sense, right?). We start with God and creation which means we have to consider the ways we imagine creation and how the scripture relates to modern science. While the rest of the episodes in this series will stay nestled within the scripture story, it seemed important to step back in this one to questions of science and evolution. That said, such questions are brief, for we want to root this story in scripture. Thus, the emphasis is: who is God and who were humans made to be. What is our meaning or purpose? What does Genesis 1 tell us about how the world is and our role in it?In the episode, I promised I’d mention some books I found helpful for reconciling science and faith. Here are a few: Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Broadway Books (2004); Karl Giberson and Francis Collins, The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions, IVP Press (2011); Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God, Harper (2007); Francis Collins, The Language of God, Free Press (2006). I could add more, such as works by John Polkinghorne and John Haught. Then there are Old Testament scholars such as Pete Enns and John Walton.I also found this episode of the Mysterion podcast helpful in looking at how we experience creation in comparison to a more ancient view:
Welcome to the new and improved Ancient Pathways podcast (formerly the CSF @ PSU Berks podcast). In this episode I (Dave) share my new vision and goal for this podcast.  We are beginning a journey through the story of scripture. I hope you will join us.Chat about the podcast on the CSF Discord - out Dave’s website - www.dmlhershey.comHere is where we will be going in the future:The Story of Scripture outline1. The Beginning of the Story2 . God Calls Abraham3. God Saves Abraham’s Descendants4. God Dwells with the People5. God Gives the Law (Part 1)6. God Gives the law (Part 2) 7. The Conquest of the Land8. God Gives Israel a King9.  David: The Ideal King10. Solomon: The Downward Slide Begins11. Exile11.5. Interlude – What’s Next?12. Jesus Announces the Kingdom Has Come13. Light Overcomes Darkness14 . Jesus Wins the Victory15. The Beginning of the Church16.  The Beginning of Christian Theology
Yesterday I interviewed three students graduating in a few weeks and one who graduated last December: Pat, Ife, Giulio and Beth. You can find this video on YouTube if you want to watch a video ( This is just the audio of that interview. The students talk about their experiences in CSF and why they think campus ministry is important (or even crucial!).
Unfortunately, Christianity is too often seen, by those inside and outside, as a mere matter of believing the correct ideas in order to pass some sort of divine exam and thus be a religious insider. While beliefs are important, the emphasis throughout the gospel is for Jesus’ followers to become disciples - people whose entire lives are shaped by following his life and teaching. Rather than worrying about who is “in” and who is “out” we see Jesus calls us to love our enemies and take up our cross, then we see he was serious because he does those exact things! Of course, this does not mean we work hard for our salvation. The reality is, God loves us just as we are. Even when we, like Peter and Judas and the disciples, really screw up. God’s unending love is revealed on the cross and our response is not merely to believe (recognize this thing happened) but to become disciples (recognize who God is and live as disciples). The question is not are we “in” or “out” but are we moving towards God or away from God?
In this week’s episode, we pick up our journey through Luke’s gospel with Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem (Luke 20-21). Just prior to this, Jesus had triumphantly entered Jerusalem and cleansed the temple in an act of prophetic judgment. During his last days, he answers questions from the religious leaders as well as speaking cryptic words of judgment. Christians often take these words to apply to our future, perhaps our not-too-distant future. But what if Jesus was not speaking of events to happen in distant centuries, but of events in his own and his people’s near future. After all, Jesus explicitly speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which did happen in 70 AD.I argue that when Jesus prophesies judgment in Luke 21 (and really, in Luke 18-21) he is speaking of events soon to happen in his death, resurrection and the destruction of Jerusalem. There is still application for us today of course. But it is not that Jesus is speaking of our future specifically, rather, the end is always near for temples and nations and idols inevitably collapse when we put all our hope in them.
In this special episode for my partners in ministry, I reflect on what it looks like to have a public witness primarily informed by our faith. Too many of us take our political cues from the two sides on the American political scene. Honestly, the problem is deeper than who we vote for this week. The problem is, Christians are reduced to a voting bloc that can be trusted to be cheerleaders for our party. We may criticize the other side, but not our own. Yet, when we look at scripture, from the prophets through to Jesus and the apostles, the people of God are called to speak truth to power. This means we allow Jesus, the scripture and the testimony of the historic and global church to shape our faith. From this, we call out injustice even if the injustice is done by “our guy.” This is the test for Christians in the upcoming months and years: will we speak truth or will we just be cheerleaders and sycophants?
This week we are in Luke 17 and half of 18. In this section, Jesus speaks some words that have led to tons of speculation over the centuries. When will the kingdom appear? Jesus says two will be sleeping, one will be taken and the other left. Some of us automatically assume this means a future rapture where real Christians disappear. But does it? This question pushes us to a more basic question: do we start with our situation or the biblical and historical context? These are some of the questions this episode touches on.
The Dishonest Manager

The Dishonest Manager


Today we look at one of Jesus’ more confusing parables. Well, let’s be honest, they all are meant to make us think and defy simplistic explanation. But the parable of the dishonest, or shrewd, manager in Luke 16 seems especially tricky. On its face, this parable might make us think its okay to be manipulative in our dealings in business or class. This is why it is so important to remember context. We must read this parable within the context of Luke’s overarching work. Luke did not just toss stories in with no regard, instead he intentionally crafted his gospel. Further, we recognize the context of all Jesus said and did as well as the full movement of scripture. Through that, I think we find a challenging message in this parable.



We are in Luke 13-14 this week. In this podcast, we look at a few questions and how Jesus answers (or doesn’t actually answer) them. First, do those who suffer deserve it because God is judging them? Jesus responds that those who suffer are no worse than anyone else. Thus, those who point to natural disasters as God’s punishment might want to pause! Second, will only a few be saved? Jesus encourages us to not speculate on others but to examine our own life, while hinting far more will come to the great banquet than we expect!
On Prayer

On Prayer


In this episode, we discuss prayer! Jesus’ disciples ask him to teach them how to pray at the beginning of Luke 11. This might strike us as we, living in an age of authenticity, assume for something to be real or legitimate it has to be spontaneous. In other words, we wrongly think if we love God we will just pray from the heart and that’s all we need. But in reality, our hearts are broken and we need to learn how to pray. This is why the Psalms are in the Bible and why Jesus gives us this prayer which can serve as a model for prayer.
Fire From Heaven?

Fire From Heaven?


This week we move into Luke 9-10 and see Jesus setting out towards Jerusalem, where he will ultimately be crucified. While passing through Samaria, the Samaritans oppose him. This is not surprising, for there was much animosity between Samaritans and Jews. Two of Jesus’ disciples, James and John, eagerly want to call down fire from heaven. This is understandable, but why fire? There are echoes of actions by the prophet Elijah way back in 2 Kings 1. Jesus has been doing acts like Elijah did, so why not fire? Yet we see Jesus rebuke them and challenge them, as he has challenged everyone else, to rethink their notions of who God is and how God is working.We too must allow Jesus to challenge our preconceived notions of God.
Do You See Her?

Do You See Her?


In Luke 7, Jesus has dinner with a Pharisee named Simon. Into this dinner walks a woman of bad reputation. Simon sees only a sinful woman. But Jesus invites Simon to see her as more than this, challenging Simon’s entire way of viewing the world, God and other people. This question, “do you see her” rings down through the centuries to us. Do we see the pain and suffering? Do we see others as mere sinners or people of lower status? Or do we see them as Jesus sees them? 
In this week’s episode we move in to Luke 5-6. After learning about the Pharisees at our last Bible study, in this podcast Dave ponders whether we are listening to Jesus, like Peter and other “sinners” in Luke 5-6 or if we are in opposition to him. If our faith has already been compromised, and for so long, would we even notice? Dave goes on a tangent about the history of white supremacy and racism in the church, recognizing that if we truly want to learn from Jesus we must confess our sin and the sins of our nation. Only then can we enter into a community of love where we can learn and grow and fail and confess.
Holistic Salvation

Holistic Salvation


In this week’s episode we look at Jesus’ inaugural sermon in his hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:14-30). This follows what we studied at our Bible study, where we looked at Jesus’ baptism and then his temptation in the wilderness by Satan. What we find in this first sermon is that Jesus’ announces a salvation that is for the whole person, encompassing both the spiritual and the material. This is nothing new, for this is how humans were created in the beginning and saved in the Exodus. Jesus thus demonstrates and reaffirms what salvation has always been. Through Luke and on into Acts we will see this is the same sort of salvation we too are called to announce, a salvation that includes everything from forgiveness and healing and justice and more.
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