Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Learning from the Old Testament

     To listen to some Christians talk one would have to come to the conclusion that the Old Testament is obsolete. If I were to quote a Minor Prophet, for example, I can almost here someone’s thought: But that’s Old Testament. Where do we get this idea that the first 39 books of the Bible lost their value once Paul picked up his pen?

     Consider some of the wonderful truths that the first testament brought us:

*The beginning. Genesis 1:1 boldly declares that God, not Darwin or chance, is responsible for the universe.

*The Messiah. Isaiah and the Psalms paint vivid pictures of the first coming of the Messiah. Jesus in the New Testament is recognized as the Messiah (instead of just a teacher or prophet) because He met the descriptions written centuries before.

*Wisdom. Where would we be without the poetic book of Proverbs? Whether Old Testament or New, “the fear of the Lord” is still “the beginning of wisdom.”

*The end. John’s New Testament Revelation is found lacking on its own. Only when blended together with Daniel do we get a fuller eschatological picture.

     There is so much more that could be pointed out, like the fact that 2011’s most quoted verse was probably Micah 6:8 (and for good reason). And yet, if one were to look at the average church, you might discover that children’s classes are rich with the accounts of David and Goliath, Samson, Noah, and Jonah, while the adult classes are pure epistles.

     It’s almost as if we subconsciously think that the Old Testament is just little kid stories, far too imaginative for our adult reasoning.

     But as adult believers we must understand how both Testaments work together. No one would pick up a good novel, flip two-thirds of the way through the book, and begin reading late in the story. “Ah, the first part is just introduction stuff.” This is why we fail to understand the Gospel—we are skipping the beginning.

     Here is a quick run through of the Old Testament:

     God created the world as a perfect place, but when Adam and Eve chose to sin, they invited the curse into this planet. Fellowship with God was broken, and in Genesis 3:15, God gave the first hint that a Deliverer would eventually solve this problem.

     Years later, God appeared to a man named Abram and made him a great promise, that he would become the father of a great nation that would live in a promised land. The Lord blessed him with a son named Isaac, and that same promise was repeated to this “child of promise” years later. Isaac’s son Jacob had a dream one night where the Lord reaffirmed this same promise; Jacob’s name was soon changed to Israel, and his descendants became the Israelites.

     Jacob’s 11th son Joseph was hated by his 10 older brothers, and they sold him into Egyptian slavery. After many years and a major famine, his family was forced to move to Egypt to find food, and they were reunited with their brother. They remained in Egypt, and after many generations, grew into millions of people. However, the Egyptians ruled over them as taskmasters.

     That is why God rose up a deliverer, a foreshadowing of the Deliver that was to come. This first deliverer, Moses, was commissioned by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land. Moses does his part, but dies on the brink of the new land; Joshua then led the people in to possess their inheritance.

     After several years, which included judges and a wicked king, God anointed David to rule over Israel. Between David and his successor/son Solomon, a beautiful temple was built as a place of worship and sacrifice. God promised that His Son would come to the throne through their family line.

     The Old Testament ends with the nation being defeated, split, and exiled, although they eventually come back together. The New Testament opens with Israel being oppressed by the Roman government. The stage is set for that promised Deliverer to come, although many misunderstood Jesus’ mission.

     To see why this is all so important, read Part 2.

(Read Part 3 here)

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