I admit that I have been mostly a New Testament Christian, meaning that I mostly avoid reading the Old Testament except for Psalms and Proverbs. The truth is I’ve been afraid to read about an Old Testament God who seems very different than New Testament Jesus, a God whose ways seem violent and primitive. However, as I read the Old Testament, I’m finding something different. I don’t need to be afraid of the Old Testament because God really is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. By not reading the Old Testament in the same way I read the New Testament I’ve been missing out on a lot of good stuff.
Here are some headlines from pages 118 – 130, which is roughly Exodus 22 – 29. Funny how all of these observations sound very much like of Jesus:
· God is practical – he gave sensible laws to help his people live in peace and harmony.
· God is jealous – he won’t tolerate idols and sorcerers amongst his people.
· God is compassionate – he protects foreigners, orphans and widows.
· God is just – he calls his people to honesty, fairness and to care for the poor.
· God gives renewal – he says to take a day off each week, and even gives the land rest every seventh year.
· God loves parties – he requires his people to celebrate three festivals every year.
· God is covenantal – he makes promises and wants to bless his people with good things.
· God is relational – he wants to live amongst his people and asks them to build him a house.
· God leads – he gives detailed instructions for his house, ordination and atonement.
· God is holy – to be with him, atonement is required.
As I read the Old Testament and this section, I’m struck by God’s holiness and the cost of forgiveness. The detailed instructions he gave the Israelites regarding the tabernacle, ordination of priests and daily sacrifices for sin were emphatic, bloody reminders of his holiness and that sin is death. For me, with my modern sensibilities, even though I understand these concepts in a theological sense, they feel ancient and primitive. Reading the Old Testament is breaking through some of my modern bias, and helping me to see and feel God’s holiness and the cost of forgiveness. And feeling it is much more powerful than just understanding it.
Father, please forgive me for overlooking this part of your Word. Forgive me for my modern arrogance. As I continue to read the Old Testament, I know there will be hard parts I don’t understand. I ask for perseverance to finish it, wisdom to understand it, and faith to trust it. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.