For the past nine years I have been on a trek through the Old Testament. I am taking my time rather than doing the yearly schedule I used to do. Reading the Bible through in a year doesn’t work at this point in my life. It is important to get a overview of the Bible and that is where a year-long schedule can help, but taking it slow teaches more about life and living. It has been great savoring all that God thought important enough for all of us to read and understand. It has been eye-opening to get to know the various people in biblical history and how God worked with them.
In looking at David in the books of Samuel and Psalms, it is amazing how much we can learn about his life and motivations. We can get to know people like David though God’s point of view and because of that we might get to know them better than people who actually are around us.
The Old Testament is amazing. There is so much grace and love shown to some very human people. Things, for example, like polygamy and idolatry have been puzzling. Even more puzzling is how commentaries and theologians explain these various issues of the Old Testament. Many times I would read about a specific event that was difficult to follow or explain so I would try looking them up in my reference books. Many times I would find 2, 3 or 4 different explanations about what was going on. It got a little discouraging trying to figure who was right until God stepped in and reminded me to keep it simple. Then it just rolled out beautifully.
A good thing to remember is that the Bible is descriptive as well as prescriptive. Sometimes, God describes things that went on without commenting on whether they were right or wrong. I use polygamy as an example because some of the great patriarchs had multiple wives and concubines. The multiple wives of Jacob and Elkanah, David and many more examples are all described. I know that God designed marriage in the beginning to be monogamous. That is pretty simple. Marriage should be a blessing.
Jacob’s family was dysfunctional because of all the wives and their offspring. In the books of Samuel, this issue is front and center as David moved into becoming the king. It was a source of pressure and difficulty in causing factions, political maneuverings and war. God certainly doesn’t advocate polygamy, but humans do human things and those human things cause messes. Those messes teach us a lot. It is as simple as that.
I was thinking about this on my walk today and all of a sudden I was humming “Jesus Christ, Superstar!” under my breath. We are so blessed to live in the New Testament era. Jesus Christ is God’s prescription for all our humanness. It is worth singing about! The Old Testament believers looked to his coming, but we have him today. When you stop and think about this and its ramifications, it puts a spring in your step. It is a big change when one thinks about the significance of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The fact that he was raised from the dead is enormous! He is alive! The church that he is gathering is different from the Old Testament tabernacle and temple. In addition, Holy spirit was upon certain men and women in the Old Testament. Today holy spirit is available to all who believe. We need to tear down the bricks and old structure, along with tossing out the passive pews and podiums in our minds in relating to God as well as how we relate to each other. It is interesting to think about what this can look like.
As I walked today, I was thankful that my trek through the Old Testament is even more meaningful through the lens of the New Testament context. As so often happens when reading, the New Testament enriches and takes God’s love and grace to a whole other level.