By Zack DeBerry
I love doing series like Eat Your Peas at Journey. I love being reminded of the rich history and incredible stories that are present in the Old Testament that sometimes we forget about. To me you should have a good grasp on the Old Testament to truly have a proper understanding of all that is great about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. There are several reasons why I feel the Old Testament is incredibly useful for us to study today.
- It is the beginning of a Grand Love Story.
The Old Testament was never intended to be read by itself, it was like Act 1 of a great story. We tend to love Act 2, but without Act 1 we can’t fully understand the totality of the story being told. The Bible is ONE Story told in 66 books by a variety of voices and stories across different times and places. To fully appreciate the Old Testament, we must have the view that the story would be incomplete without understanding it.
- We see the Human Condition
In the Old Testament we see the human condition from Genesis 3 to Malachi. We see the sins of the nation of Israel as well as many individuals on display. We see nations and families at war. We see the same problems we face today in the stories of the Old Testament. The reason for this is that we all suffer from the same problem, Sin. Sin is the great problem that must be dealt with in our lives and it had to be dealt with in the Old Testament. We see this common theme of the human condition throughout the stories of the Old Testament.
- We get a glimpse of God’s Character
In the stories of the Old Testament we see God’s character of Love, Mercy, and Grace on display. Israel had a history of messing up, but God had a plan and His love for His people never changed. In the stories of the Old Testament we see this on multiple occasions. God’s love ultimately culminates in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, but God’s character and nature are fully displayed in the writings of the Old Testament.
So, those are just some of the reasons I believe the Old Testament is valuable to us today. I hope that as we continue to share some of the history and stories of the Old Testament over the next few weeks together, that you would see the beauty and importance of the Old Testament in our lives today. I pray that as we see more of the story of God’s Love toward broken humanity, that we could see His loving nature more clearly, and become people that share that love and hope those we encounter daily.
By Don Gentry
Remember when your parents made you eat your veggies? Personally, I used to love to eat peas, but I hated spinach. Punishment awaited me if my spinach was not eaten. I used to figure out all kinds of ways to be sneaky and throw it away, or make it appear as if it was gone. Maybe you are a healthy eater and can’t relate. The moral of the story is that many times there is an intrinsic value to things that we may not always see, when we do things that we don’t enjoy.
For example, I have heard many people tell me how they don’t read the Old Testament. They don’t understand it. They think it shows a mean, unloving God. It is not applicable. I could go on. The reality is that the Old Testament is full of wisdom, stories of how a loving God guided a disobedient and rebellious nation, it is a story of love, betrayal, war, and so much more. To hear how some view the OT is so disheartening.
In order to help change people’s perspective we are starting a new series called Eat Your Peas. We want people to have a better understanding of how to read the OT and why it is important. We want people to have a practical tool (SCMC) to tackle any story in the OT to better understand it.
You might be wondering what SCMC stand for? I guess you better show up on Sunday at find out! J See you all on Sunday!
By Don Gentry
Why the Old Testament?!?
Have you ever told someone or been told by someone to read the Bible? One of the comments that I have received in reply is, “I just don’t understand it,” or “It doesn’t really apply to me.” I receive a host of other replies as well and they very seldom imply a love of the scriptures.
To help read the scriptures, especially the Old Testament there are a few foundational thoughts and steps that I think can help create a better understanding of the Bible.
- Ask God to help you fall in love with the Bible. The Bible is literally God’s word to you. It was written by the Holy Spirit through men so that we could understand the heart and story of God’s interaction with and love for mankind.
- Put yourself in character. The Bible is a compilation of the stories of God. Try to imagine yourself as the character in that story. The Bible reads differently when you are the character that you are reading about. To do this, you may need to visit a few museums and study some history books so that you can understand the culture in which the Bible was written. When you understand the culture, then you can become a part of the script. For example, are you the mom that dedicates her son to the service of God, or are you the son? Are you the warrior that drove your sword into the fat of the king, or are you the husband that gave your wife to the whims of a king so that you wouldn’t die. Become a part of the story.
- When reading the OT, remember it was before Jesus came as the final sacrifice. This is imperative for understanding the OT. God uses the OT to help us understand how righteous and Holy he is. He uses the stories and characters of the OT to help us understand the fallenness of mankind and how separate from man God is. He uses the stories to show that the only way to him is through holy right living and sacrifices. He uses the stories so that we can see that even in all the failing of mankind for over 4,000 years, he was infinitely patient before he finally said enough. The OT builds up to the point where we understand our need for a perfect sacrifice. Jesus.
- We have to understand that the Holy Spirit was not given to all equally in the OT. Not until the New Testament are all people equal in their ability to hear and respond to God. The giving of the Holy Spirit in the NT is the great equalizer for humanity. In the OT relationship with God is very detailed and works driven. The Holy Spirit’s activity was limited to prophets, judges, key leaders, priests, and other isolated incidents in the OT. In the NT we all have equal access.
- The OT is an account of a 4,000-year story of God’s interaction and dealings with mankind that should lead us to a very clear understanding of why we need a savior like Jesus Christ.
- There is a three-step process to help you do this. 1. Observe the passage of scripture. Observation will help you gain context so that you can become a part of the story. This is where research and study must come in. 2. Interpret the passage. Once you have observed all that you can, then we can begin to interpret how this story points us to the bigger story of God’s interaction with man. We can begin to see what God was saying to the early audience. 3. Then we can apply the passage. Once we have observed the correct context of the story and interpreted what it meant to the early audience, then we can ask the question: what can I learn from this and how can I apply it to my personal walk. There are all kinds of tools that can help you with this three-step process.
You could read the OT with just this three-step process, but I believe by having a solid foundation as outlined in points 1-5 your scripture reading will come alive in a whole new way!