No wonder most pastors avoid teaching from the Old Testament nowadays! They’re probably concerned about discouraging their congregations because it seems impossible to please the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The questions that come to mind while reading it are probably difficult for them to answer. War, famine, oppression, sexual immorality, and death are the status quo. And, there’s no hope of redemption for those who sin against God.
I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s included in the Hebrew Bible, but so far it has become clear that threats of utter destruction do nothing to entice obedience. Not for the ancient Israelites, and definitely not for modern believers. Now I know why, as a new Christian, I was told to start reading the Gospels first.
Gospel means “good news.” And, there’s no good news in the Old Testament. There’s only bad news...very bad news. Yes, there are a few shining examples in the midst of the darkness. But, not enough to make a new believer want to stick around for very long. Like the Israelites, we would all stumble and fall all over ourselves trying unsuccessfully to stay clean.
In 1 Samuel, we met faithful Hannah and obedient Samuel. But, then we also read about Eli’s wicked sons. Not only did they abuse the offerings that the people brought to the Lord, but they also abused their power by having sex with their female assistants.
As priests, they were in positions of influence over the people. So, their transgressions were major in the eyes of God. And, He told Samuel the prophet that they would both meet an untimely death for their infractions. Then, in a later chapter, Samuel’s sons also “took bribes and perverted justice.” I shudder to think what ultimately happened to them, which I’m sure will be revealed in an upcoming chapter.
If I had not been exposed to the New Testament prior to delving into the books of Moses, and now these that follow, I might become discouraged. This living by faith looks hard! Which is probably what the ancient people thought, too.
I’m beyond thankful that my first introduction to living this lifestyle was from the words of the loving and forgiving Jesus. The best thing about reading the Old Testament AFTER getting to know Christ (through the Gospels and the books that follow) is it leaves me breathing a big sigh of relief!
I’m relieved that my relationship with God is based on the love of Christ, instead of fear of retribution. I’m relieved that my sons have a chance to learn from their mistakes, and still find their way back to the Lord. And, I'm relieved that this lifestyle is available for everyone everywhere, not just for blood relatives of one group of people. Hallelujah!
*Join my one-year trip around the world of Scripture. You’re invited to take this journey with me, as I meditate on God’s Word day and night. Each morning, you’ll find a post on my Facebook page encouraging my new #Biblebuddies along the way. And each night, I’ll be writing my impressions right here at listen2leslie.com. I’d love it if you’d share your comments, to spark some fruitful discussion. The only passport you’ll need for this journey is the Read Scripture app which provides us with our daily itinerary. You’ll love this app because it contains videos by The Bible Project that serve as our tour guide. Traveling is so much better when you have someone to share the experience with, so please join me, will you?
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