Monday, August 13, 2012

More from the Bible

I'm definitely not going to finish reading the Bible in 90 days, but I am most definitely going to finish it.  In the last 45 days I've read 12 books from the Old Testament (Joshua through Esther).  Once again, some thoughts:

  • Though there are still difficult things in the OT that I do not understand, or frankly, do not like, the big Story is coming together for me in a new way, and I find myself loving and appreciating God more.
  • The discipline of remembering is HUGE for the people of God.  We see it in those first few books of the Bible, then again in Joshua (much of this is directed towards Joshua himself, who is challenged by God to be of great courage and remember how He had worked through Moses).  One of my favorite stories about this is found in Joshua 3-4.  In fact, Joshua is one of my heroes in the OT because his life was marked by a trust in God and an obedience that naturally flowed from this trust.  When things begin going downhill (in Judges and then beyond), what we see is God's people forgetting who they are and more importantly who God is
  • Obedience is a BIG deal, and it's a big deal because of two reasons.  First, we are not who we once were.  We've been chosen, adopted, redeemed, blessed, etc (Eph 1), and therefore we're called to live differently.  God is worthy of this.  The way we live should be a worship response to how He's acted on our behalf.  Second, though, and this comes out so clear through the OT story, we are called to obey because it's the best thing we could ever do.  God has thought about His plans for us, and though they don't always make sense (there's a difference between finite beings and an infinite being), we show ourselves to be wise when we follow God's plans and obey.  And when we disobey, there are consequences.  Going back to Joshua, I find it so interesting, and comforting, to see God saying four times to him to "be very careful" to obey me.  Inertia (or perhaps our human nature) leads us to disobedience.  We're going to have to flow upstream if we want to live according to God's commands.
  • What separated good kings from bad kings was their level of obedience, often through simple things.  You see this theme reflected in Saul and David, but it continues throughout the next few centuries (see 1 & 2 Kings).
  • It's important to remember that we can serve and worship God or we can serve and worship some other god (an idol), but we can never worship both.  One or the other. Always.  We get a choice, but we have to choose.
  • So far, Judges is the most depressing book I've read.  It's so sad that a people, God's people, could forget all that he had done for them and worship other gods.  But one thing I've learned over these past weeks is that I am just as prone.
  • As much as I like Joshua, my favorite is David.  I taught through his story last summer, and I love his love for God.  I love his dependence, his courage and his tenacity.  And I love the fact that he failed big time, but he humbled himself, confessed his sin as sin, and was restored.  And in the end he was known by God as a man after God's own heart.  Speaking of David, reading through his story reminded me that I did not touch much on his later years when I taught through his life.  I need to come back to this soon.  It would be interesting to look at principles of good leadership through his life.
  • The mantle of leadership comes with a serious amount of responsibility.  As I finished reading King Solomon's story, I couldn't help but think that Israel's history could have looked very different had Solomon (and you could say this with the other kings of Israel & Judah) chosen to love, serve, worship and obey God.  The fact that he didn't meant not only withheld blessing to him but also to an entire nation.  The story goes downhill fast after Solomon.
  • This "downhill fast" part culminates with God's people in exile under Babylon and then Persia.  God is faithful, though.  Despite their continued rebellion, he forgives, restores, and works in mighty ways.  Ezra and Nehemiah tell the story of the exiles coming back home and trying to restore what they once had. There is a heightened awareness of the importance of trust and obedience, and we see an encouraging display of leadership through these men.
  • My last thought, and this is a challenge and hopefully a word of encouragement.  If you've avoided the Old Testament because of issues that confused or even disturbed you, I hope you will take a second look.  We are of course so removed through culture and time, but knowing this story helps me to understand the entire story, and I find myself getting excited to get to Jesus

There's much more that I could write, but hopefully this whets your appetite a bit.  According to my Kindle I'm 40% of the way through the Bible.  Next up...the Prophets (I'm going to come back to the Wisdom Literature).


Syd said...

Thanks for your insights, Robert. I've been reading the Bible chronologically this year. It seemed wrong for me to have been a Christian all my life and yet never read the Bible in its entirety. I really appreciate reading your impressions and look forward to more in the future.

Robert said...

Great to hear!