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In reference to Jacob with the multiple wives, it surprises me how easily he is bartered off, seemingly with no complaint from him.

Even though, he was tricked by his father-in-law. Is that the reason veils are lifting today. :)

This was a custom of the land, if I'm remembering right, to have multiple wives.

Also, I'm remembering Abram, Sarai, and Hagar.

You're right God doesn't endorse it. He allows us to make our own choices.

Thanks, Mike, for the website.

Shirley

>>Specifically, I would ask you to share your insights on how you would explain some of the “shocking” things that we might read about in the Old Testament to someone who is maybe very new to reading the Old Testament.>>

Mike you know this is a loaded question that brings up more questions.

Why would or who would be shocked by reading of the Old Testament? The only time I have run across any kind of “shock” is when the person came to the Old Testament with preconceived ideas of what the book contained. What I have come across are people who have read the Old Testament and used the polygamy of Abraham, Isaac and the other Fathers of the Old Testament as excuses, or reasons to justify the maintaining of two households, incest and child molestation (folks in the church may I add, and not the Catholic Church). All the “folks” that I knew to have done that were folks from my family, and the two churches that I was forced to attend before I turned 16 and knocked-off God. Let me put it this way: We are never disappointed by what we find; we are always disappointed by what we EXPECTED to find.

I have also come across people who either have great knowledge of the scriptures or those who just want to argue but are not really looking for answers because they have their own agendas. What I tell those who are truly looking for answers is this.

Now to Christians, old and young in the faith, that just pick up the Bible and decided to read it and our surprised, or shocked, by what they find, I remind them that God chose people to carry His Word to the nations, not little gods. In fact choosing frail, flawed people to be co-laborers with Him is an honor and a blessing. I think what happens when we understand that we are asked to co-labor with God we begin to get glimpses of who we really are in Christ and thus progressively begin to cast aside our will and pick up God’s will.

The Bible, The Old Testament, is nothing but numerous case studies of God interacting with man. And like any good case study we are given to the opportunity to see the cause, man’s obedience to God’s will or the rejection of God’s will, and the effects that are played out in the lives of those who made the decisions, the choices, and how it turned out. The bible contains principals and patterns of how God operates. Take note of the NLT’s rendering of Ecclesiastes 7:13,
13Notice the way God does things; then fall into line. Don't fight the ways of God, for who can straighten out what he has made crooked?

Those who have GPS systems in their cars, SUVs, or trucks should be able to relate to this. If you chart your destination as you sit in your driveway and as you are given directions to head down a specific path (scenic, direct etc.), it is your choice to follow the directions. If you fail to make that turn off, you may find yourself traveling another 75 or 100 miles to the next exit. The GPS doesn’t start calling you names and telling you how stupid you are. It doesn’t get mad and stop working; it immediately begins to recalculate the route you must take to get to your destination. It may take you more time and you may want to kick yourself, but you have another shot at getting to your goal. So it is when we read about the Old Testament saints. Eventually you observe them attaining the prize that God had planned for them. This is not a sprint, this is a long distance race and we all add miles as we go along because of bad choices but the main thing is to get to the finish line. We may catch a cramp along the way, we may limp, we may fall down—but we strive to get back up and continuing along the way.


Philippians 3: 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Here is a passage that some may want to meditate on. And Remember while reading this, if the nations of Israel was perfect folks God would not be saying to them what is written in Deuteronomy 10 (NIV):

12 And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

Sorry this is long, but Grace and Peace,
Ramona

Ramona,
Thank you, your comments are very helpful. Last night our pastor was preaching on the unity of the body. I was really struglling with this. Finally I am coming to terms with God using us in all our imperfections and differences, and we need to focus on our agreements and the all knowingness of God. I am still strugling with this concept. I am hoping to grow alot more as we study these things.

The Old Testament serves many purposes to me. I tell a new believer these things. The Old Testament is:

History - It is the history of our religion and it's place in the world. It contains the spiritual growth of human beings for about 6000 years. What else do we have that can do this? Unfortunately, unless you have a deep understanding of ancient history and anthropology, it can also be most distressing. The first few times I read through the Pentatuech, I had to keep putting it down 'cause it really upset me. I did considerable research and considerable prayer, and now I am almost comfortable with it. You have to understand the world these people lived in. We complain about how evil the world is (ok, at least I do) and yet it was difficult to make it through a day in that time. Life had no value; for instance, it was quite common to bury your first born child in the foundation of a new home for good luck. Also, most temples had prostitutes because they thought the closest man could come to knowing God was through orgasm-hence temple prostitutes! Women, of course, were less than worthless (it is a testament to the Truth of God that Jesus was the first feminist). In light of the situation of the day-God's laws were just to separate His people and protect them. I like to think of the old movie Karate Kid-wax on /wax off, it didn't make any sense but it served a useful purpose eventually.

Great Literature! Try to see the compelling drama in the writing while considering it was written many thousand years ago! I took a video college religion course on the old Testament and it really opened my eyes to the incredible writing involved here. Our God is so truly awesome-He tells us our history and He makes it interesting as well as helpful on our journey!

The character of God. The old Testament introduces us to God and His character. The historical violence notwithstanding, we can see that God knows we are a flawed race, but He loves us and delights in us no matter what. When you come to passages that make your heart hurt because it doesn't sound like the God you know (or want to), remember the state of mankind at that moment and the type of God these people needed. They needed survival,not nuance. Even then, God loved these people who were not perfect. God has use for all of us, no matter our weaknesses. (some times because of our weaknesses) We are baby spiritual beings, and like any babies, we exasperate and yet thrill our Father. This I see in the Old Testament stories.

Foreshadowing and Prophecy: Everything in the old Testament reflects or preshadows the coming of the Messiah -Christ Jesus. Look at where we are in our reading. Our God chose one man to bless-why? because Abram believed the Lord. He continued His covenant throughout history-not always choosing the person society would expect, but always His will was accomplished until our Lord Jesus was incarnate and all the world was blessed by the seed of Abram. I am always amazed at how God's story keeps repeating itself throughout His Word. Since He made us, He realizes that we are a little dense at times, so He keeps repeating the theme...repent and accept His goodness and things will be cool. The sense of community and unity from the make up of atoms to the makeup of the church-each individual a part of a greater whole is what really gets to me. I am forever in awe at the power and intellegence-and some people think you have to suspend your intellect to have a relationship with God-He is the ultimate!-we just do not have the mind to comprehend His ways. Which leads me to ...

Mystery: Our faith is a mystical faith. We worship a living but unseen God. If we choose, we are occupied by the Holy Spirit of the Living God. (praise God!) We battle invisible forces and there are unseen wars going on around us. We have angels and demons...and we are constantly being tempted by one so evil even God turned His loving and merciful face. And we are saved from eternal damnation by accepting the atoning sacrifice of God Himself in the form of our Savior Jesus Christ... Yes, there is much we do not understand about our Lord, the One True God...but I believe that is the point -blessed is he who believes and has not seen...as I stated earlier-God loved Abram because he believed Him-that is all God wants, for us to believe Him.

Wow!! Yeah, I like the Old Testament. Enjoy the ride.

Betty

I just wanted to take a moment and praise God for placing on my heart to start this journey. I am amazed everyday at how he has carved out of my schedule (which is very busy - being the mother of 4 small children) time each day to spend in His word. I am thoroughly enjoying the rich history in the Old Testament and want to thank you for recommending the book, "The Red Tent". I am reading this concurrently with the sections in Genesis and am loving how it expands and gives us what could've have gone on for Dinah.

I pray that God blesses you as he has me during our journey over this next year.
Kristy - aka "gomommy"

Hello, This is my first time reading through the Bible. I really love reading the Old Testament. I don't understand why God seems to have "favorites" with some people. Somtimes it appears some people do something minor and get a big punishment and others do a real major boo-boo and get off lightly! Why does God accept Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's? I have the Companion to the Daily Readings and I highly recommend it.
God Bless All

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