What is your opinion of the Old Testament? Do you view it as merely some distant dusty set of laws? Do you see it as a collection of rather well-worn stories from a long ago era? Or maybe you simply understand the OT story as the prelude to the real story of the Bible- Jesus?
What is your vision of the God of the OT? Is he angry, distant, vengeful, or disturbing? Do you see any connection to him and the God of the New Testament?
Generally speaking, the OT we are comfortable with is highlighted by the great stories and people revealed in it and summed up by the Ten Commandments. We certainly know some of the history, appreciate some of the poetry but usually the prophetic voices remain somewhat of a mystery to us. Overall our vision of the OT is more often framed by the commentary of the NT writers (example- Galatians 3:23-25) than by the OT text itself. And while the OT story did provide the backdrop for the New Testament- there is far more to it than just that.
A fresh look at the Old Testament is about:
- A Creator God who desires a relationship with his creation. One of the surprises of the OT is that it reveals a wholly relational God. From the beginning when God made man is his own image (Genesis 1:27) God has consistently sought a genuine relationship with him. Every story throughout every point of history within the OT is God’s attempt at revealing his true self (“I am that I am”) to man for the purpose of relationship. He has always been a personal God and the OT chronicles this truth. The God of the OT is not an isolated God. He is out and about in his creation- in relationship- working though people to accomplish his redemptive will.
- The way of justice and mercy. As a part of this will and reflective of his own relational nature- God seeks throughout the OT for man to define his relationships God’s way which is the way of justice and mercy. Justice is an overarching theme of the OT which provides the background for many OT contexts.
- The history of God’s people and their land–gift. From the initial call of Abram and the land promise/blessing-all-nations covenant God made with him- the OT story traces God’s relationship with Israel and Israel’s relationship with land. Israel could not be Israel without the land and cannot be fully understood apart from the land. This land emphasis even has threads which transcend time and place and directly relate to us.
- God’s redemptive plan for all nations. The OT reveals a God out and about in the life of a surprising number of other nations. His concern was for all of his creation and not just chosen Israel. Even in choosing Israel to be a light to all nations we see his redemptive purpose for all people. Throughout every part of OT history God’s redemptive plan (and not just about a future Messiah) unfolds.
All of this is just the starting place! So jump into the vibrant history and contemporary messages that is the Old Testament. Blessings will flow!