Elements of Design & Attention
As we have stated before, one of the goals of understanding the various rhetorical techniques is . . . .
to add variety (contrast)
to change-up the flow
to introduce some movement
to add some different stylistic colors
to gain and/or re-gain audience attention
to add emphasis
to direct focus
to make application
to alter the organization or flow
to put in bold print the Big Idea
Midst the general flow of the content, there are techniques you can use to accomplish these and other ends. Over a thirty to forty minute period of time, you can help your audience grab hold of what you are preaching or teaching.
God’s people don’t hear if they are not paying attention and there are ways to help maintain focus and attention. In fact, I would venture to say that focus is half the battle in having a message impact its listeners! Problems with the sound system and messed up PP visuals (by AV amateurs who think they are doing a good job but are only distracting from the message) may be one of the most ubiquitous problems in many a church — enough said.
As the message moves on, attention has “a half-life.” One can introduce both visual (i.e., This is one of the reasons for effectively using “PowerPoint”) and oral stimulation into a message. A speaker can break away from the linear movement of the message (and a speaker’s pattern of presentation which is anticipated by an audience which has heard a particular speaker over time), and intentional move a different direction in his content or methodology.
In this example, Dr. Warren Wiersbe is going to introduce a contrast between Abraham and Lot. While his message is from Genesis 19, on the theme of worldliness, focusing on “Mrs. Lot,” Wiersbe breaks away from Mrs. Lot and draws a contrast between Abraham and Lot. To draw the contrast he goes back to Genesis 18.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe, from a message* titled,
Dr. Ironside often said, “You can’t stop the boat from being in the water, but you better keep the water out of the boat.”
And she had a worldly home.
I was I was turning the pages of my Bible in preparation for this message, and I could not help but contrast
Genesis eighteen — where God came down to see Abraham
And Genesis nineteen — where the angels went down to see Lot
That’s the contrast. (I’ll not read these long chapters to you — You people are Bible students. You remember them).
In Chapter eighteen — Abraham is sitting at the door of his tent
and in chapter nineteen Lot is sitting in the city gate — you know what that meant — he was one of the Alterman of the city — he now had a position with the government. Perhaps Lot said– “You know if I get in the government I can clean this place up.”
I’m glad for Christians who are called to government, and I’m glad for whatever good they can do, but he sacrificed a great deal to accomplish nothing.
Abraham was as his tent door — he was a pilgrim.
Lot was in the city great gate — he was a powerful politician.
When the Lord came down to see Abraham it was noon — it was light because Abraham was walking in the light
When he came down to see Lot, it was evening because Lot was walking in the dark
In chapter eighteen the Lord Jesus and two angels came to see Abraham — the Lord Jesus felt at home with Abraham.
In chapter nineteen it was just the two angels who went to see Lot — the Lord Jesus didn’t even go to visit Lot — he didn’t feel at home there
In chapter eighteen you find Abraham hastening — verse two he ran to meet again — verse six he hastened to tell Sarah to bake some bread — verse seven he ran to get some meat from the herd he hastened to dress it in chapter eighteen you have this old man — running to do the Lord’s will.
In chapter nineteen you have a young man lingering — arguing.
In chapter eighteen the Lord came with a message of joy — your wife is going to have a baby
In chapter nineteen they came with a message of judgment — get out of here — the city is going to be destroyed.
In chapter eighteen Abraham had influence.
In chapter eighteen Abraham stands before the Lord and prays for the city of Sodom.
(I wonder if anybody praise for our cities today. They curse the city I wonder if they pray for the city.)
Abraham in chapter eighteen draws near to the Lord, and he says are you going to destroy the righteous with the wicked
He was praying for Lot
Praying for Lots family.
If you find fifty forty thirty
if you find ten
In chapter eighteen Abraham was a man of influence
In chapter nineteen Lot had no influence
no influence over his wife
no influence over his children
no influence over his in-laws
no influence over the city
(Daniel was in Babylon but he was a man of influence he was walking with God.
Joseph was in Egypt, and he was a man of the influence he was walking with God.
Paul went to Corinth. But he was a man of influence because he was walking with God.)
Lot went to Sodom, and he had no influence for anything that really counted.
(If it comes to the place where I have no spiritual influence over my own family, I have lost)
In chapter eighteen — The result was. — Joy — A baby is going to be born
in chapter nineteen — The result is sorrow and agony and judgment.
And of course a couple of babies were born there too, but they turned out to be the enemies of God — the Moabites and the Ammonites
Even though these two biblical characters are chronologically, historically, and personally connected in the Genesis, you can draw a contrast using biblical characters who are far removed from each other historically or chronologically.
Samson & Joseph: Facing Sexual Temptations
Gideon & Deborah: Called Into Leadership
Peter & Thomas: Dealing with Doubts
David & Saul: Leaders of God’s people
Ruth & Esther: Two Who Made the Right Decision
Joseph & Judah: Genesis 38
Jacob & Esau: Twins Only At Birth
Moses & Aaron: In Times of Leadership
Joshua & Jesus: Rest (Hebrews 4)
Various O.T. Kings: Both Who Had / or Did Not Have A Godly Heritage
It is not unusual for pastors and teachers to go point to a biblical character as an illustration of a particular trait, concept, principle, or truth. However, Wiersbe is doing more than that. He is . . . .
√ drawing a clear antithetical contrast, step by step, point & counterpoint between the two characters.
√ pointing to specific elements which can be found within the accounts.
√ highlighting the similarities of events or situations which were present in both of their lives.
The purpose is not to just illustrate a particular truth or principle, but to contrast the elements of difference so as to lay open the opposites, to contrast the two so as to imply some of the causes, dangers, or results.