Okay, so we’re getting to some interesting portions of the Old Testament… Well, really, they are all interesting. Recently we have read through and will continue to read through some sections that might make you scratch your head a little bit or might even shock you. Questions like “Why does Jacob have multiple wives / concubines?”, or “Why is there so much violence and killing?” etc. may come up in your mind. Some of you have already asked me these types of questions, and I wanted to attempt some sort of answer in this email. Primarily I want to do this so that you can see that God is such an amazing and loving God – in spite of what we humans did back then and still do today. God’s eternal love and beauty and goodness and compassion do not change. How we commit our sins over time might change somewhat…(though, not really). But, God does not change.
As most of you know from my blog Welcome or About page – I am not a Biblical scholar. This is now my third time going through the One Year Bible – and hence, my third time going through the Old Testament. And, yes, I will admit that the first time I read through the Old Testament there were some things that seemed a bit shocking to me. So, what I am going to attempt to do here briefly is give you a few of my own personal opinions that I hope will help you in your Old Testament readings. Hopefully these few points below will help you realize that, as one of our regular Commenters has titled her own Blog, “God is good all the time.”
1. The Bible Reports the Facts and doesn’t necessarily endorse them - I think the first thing that I want to point out is that just because something is written in the Bible does not mean that God endorses the behavior. Meaning – the Bible at many times simply reports facts of what people did. And it does report many times the sins that people commit that are outside of God’s will. Just because the Bible reports on these sins, does not mean they are endorsed by God in any way. For example, I believe the Bible is clear in the Garden of Eden that men were to marry only one wife, as evidenced in Genesis chapter 2 verse 24 – “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” However, we have recently been reading about Jacob marrying multiple wives and having concubines. I personally do not believe this was part of God’s perfect will. However, God still loved and utilized Jacob and his multiple wives and concubines to be the predecessors of the nation of Israel. Which leads me to point #2 below…
2. God uses imperfect people – then and now – You will read many times in the Bible where patriarchs of our faith in the Old Testament fall short of what God’s perfect will is. And you will note this in the New Testament as well with some of the disciples. And you will note that in your and my life today. None of us are perfect. And yet God still loves us immensely and works with us even in the midst of our shortcomings. Yes, he asks us to repent and be healed of our sins. But, we truly will not reach perfection this side of heaven. Jesus was the only one who walked this earth who was perfect and did not sin.
3. God’s Story - Next thing to note is that God has an amazing story that plays out all the way from Genesis to Revelation. And like any story there are stages in the journey. Stages of advancement and growth. And many of these stages do happen concurrently with human history. Meaning – we will later come across some of the Laws of the Old Testament that may seem so strange or strict to us in our modern world today. However – back then – in this part of God’s story, the Laws were actually very compassionate and prevented God’s people from harming themselves and their neighbors. The laws created necessary boundaries and some created some simple sanitation principles that were needed back then. Later, in the New Testament, we will read about some of Paul’s writings to early churches – and some of Paul’s points are universal and we do well to adhere to them today. But, I do believe that a few of Paul’s points were directed specifically for a specific church at that time. This gets into some exegesis versus hermeneutics and I’ll attempt to tackle these as I can on the blog when I get to them – or some of the regular Commenters will pick up where I leave off!
4. The Old Testament prophesies the New Testament – There is a major difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament writings. And that is simply Jesus. Jesus and the New Covenant and the Kingdom of Heaven were all prophesied about in the Old Testament. Thus, there are some laws that were fulfilled by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. And we, living today, now have the opportunity to truly know God more fully through faith in Jesus. This was not available in the same way during the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophesied the coming Messiah. We now today can fully know and surrender our lives to the Messiah. This is an incredible blessing for us today!
Now, these 4 points are my personal opinion and I wrote them up pretty quickly here in this email. But I hope they help you a bit. What I have come to realize in our amazing group of folks going through the One Year Bible with us this year, is that there are many of you who have been reading and studying the Bible for many many more years than I have. And this is a huge blessing! And there are many of you that are reading the Bible and the Old Testament for the very first time.
What I would like to do here is invite everyone to please share with everyone else your views on the Old Testament. 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.
Please add your Comments to this post below. Thank you so much in advance for the insights you will be sharing! I look forward to learning from you!