Monday, November 7, 2011

The Old and The New

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog extending a challenge to my reading audience to make a 10 & 10 commitment to read God's word for 10 minutes every day and to spend 10 minutes in prayer every day.  I am happy to report that 4 people made that commitment.  Yeah!  I was completely ecstatic that they were moved to make that commitment, and I know they will be so blessed by it as well.

Now, where to begin reading?  I guess it really is a personal choice or where you feel God is leading you to read.  You can skip around and read different books.  You can start in the New Testament, or you can start from the beginning in the Old Testament.  In my opinion, every story should start from the beginning.

According to "My Promise to You" in my header, I promised to tell you the truth of what I believe to be true as a Christian.  I am going to reveal one of my biggest pet peeves I have with some Christians.  It seems to me there are many Christians who seem to not want to read the Old Testament or think the Old Testament is irrelevant to the Christian walk.  I think this potentially comes from Paul's writings where he talks about being set free from the law.  I have heard pastors say from the pulpit, "Don't start reading in Genesis."  I have heard numerous Christians saying, "Oh, that's just Old Testament."  I will tell you that every time I hear either one of those statements, I cringe inside.  How can you truly understand the end of a book if you have not read the beginning of it?  How can you see the true symbolism of Christ if you haven't read about the tabernacle or about the First Passover?  How can you truly know who God is when almost 80% of the chapters in the bible which talk about God are in the Old Testament?

If you were going to college and your professor asked you to read a book and write a report on the book, would you read the last few chapters and write your report?  No, you would start at the beginning and read the whole thing. 

For me, the Old Testament is where I have truly gotten to know God and who He truly is.  The Old Testament is my favorite part of the bible.  I realize that probably makes me an anomaly, but I love the stories and the true character of who God is that I see in the Old Testament.  I tell my kids, if they read the Old Testament, they will read a book filled with all kinds of excitement.  There is betrayal, murder, rape, suicide, war, romance, incest, miracles, and mercy.  You name it. It's got it.

These are just a few of my favorite parts of the Old Testament.
  • The most romantic story in the bible to me is the story of Jacob and Rachel.  He works for Rachel's father for seven years for her hand in marriage.  It is said in Genesis 29:20, "So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her."  How romantic is that!  Seven years of hard labor were like a few days.  That ranks up there with "You complete me."
  • Adam and Eve sin in the garden.  Before throwing them out of the garden, Genesis 3:21 says, "Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them."  I love this for many reasons.  As a sewer, I know it takes time and care to sew an outfit.  God still cared enough about them after they sinned to make them clothes.  This is also the first kill of an animal to pay for a sin, because he made their clothes out of skins.  A symbolic precursor to Christ, because blood has to be shed for sin.
  • I love Proverbs.  Proverbs was written by King Solomon who was stated by God to be the wisest man who ever was or will be.  In I Kings 3:12, God says, "I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you."  When you read Proverbs, you are reading the words of the wisest man ever in God's eyes.
  • I love how the Old Testament shows the true character of God.  He is a jealous God who delivers His people into enemy hands when they are not following Him.  He is a God who sends a plaque to kill people who are not content with the food He has given them in the desert (Numbers 11).  He is a God who causes the earth to open and swallow up men and their families, because they were prideful (Numbers 16).  He is a merciful God who loves us, but He is also a God of wrath and justice.
  • I love Isaiah and how Christ is prophesied about approximately 700 years before His arrival. 
  • I love Ruth and the story of Ruth with her mother-in-law, Naomi.  I think it is such a sweet story of friendship and loyalty to one another no matter the circumstances.  Isn't that a picture of the truest friendships-unconditional love?
  • Probably my most favorite is the story of Moses and how he talked with God like a friend.  He is the only one who had a glimpse of God.  Moses argued with God, and God listened.  Moses convinced  God to change His mind several times.  God even buried Moses Himself (Deuteronomy 34:6).  I think this is amazing since God's own law states that to touch a dead body is unclean and a sin.  This is the only reference in scripture, that I know of, of God burying anyone.  I think this is such an intimate act on God's part and such an act of caring.
  • In the building of the tabernacle especially, it is clear to see that God is a God of order and of planning.  It helps me to see that I am truly made in the image of God, because I love a plan and love order!
I was watching a show called Manna Fest with Perry Stone.  He said, "The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed."   In my walk, I feel God has revealed more to me about who He is in the Old Testament than the New.  It has also strengthened my faith in Jesus when I see how much symbolism and foretelling there is in the Old Testament regarding the Messiah that is revealed in the New Testament.  I do truly believe you need to read where you feel God is leading you to read.  For some, like me, true growth might happen while reading the Old Testament.  For others, true growth might happen while reading the New Testament.  I believe both books are equally important, but to only read the Old or to only read the New is only part of the story.  I would encourage you today, if you have not read the story from the beginning, to give it a try.  It is all important and relevant, because God is the same today as He was yesterday.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is
and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."  Revelations 1:8

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