Reading the Old Testament

At New City, we’ve been preaching through Exodus, the 2nd book of the bible. This past Sunday, I shared a few general thoughts about how we read Old Testament narrative. This is not all that needs to be thought of in reading passages of the OT but just a general starting place to understand how we interpret and apply these books.

1. All the bible, including the OT is about Jesus. From Genesis 3 we see God working his plan to bring redemption to his people which culminated in the person and work of Jesus. Keep that in mind – even if it’s hard to understand – that God was drawing a people to himself whom he would be in relationship with him.  In the gospel of Luke, we read that Jesus, after the resurrection, was walking along the road with two men as they were trying to understand what happened with the death of Jesus. Luke tells us, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)

2. Be careful not to read every story in the scripture as if it could be applied directly to you.  We can’t just insert ourselves into a bible story and apply what happen there to our current situation. For example, in 2 Kings 2:23-24 Elisha called down curses upon a group of youth who made fun of his bald head. God then sent bears out to attack the youth. Does that give me license to call down curses on those who make fun of my bald head? NO – of course not. Because God acted in a certain way in the past doesn’t mean he will repeat that action now. God doesn’t work in accordance with our agenda. He works with his agenda and timing which is always good.

3. We learn from the OT about the nature of God and the nature of humans. And we can apply some of these principles to our current lives because God doesn’t change; the bible teaches that God’s the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). And honestly, human beings don’t change that much either. In the bible you will find people filled with anger, jealousy, depression, questioning their faith. And now we see people today with problems of anger, jealousy, depression or lack of faith. There’s no iPods, cars or TVs; but honestly, does the human heart really change that much. No – technology does change, circumstances change, cultures change – but the core human emotions – the core human values systems – they are consistent over the years.

Read the Old Testament. Soak up the stories of God faithfulness. And know that he is still faithful, he is still working his plan of redemption and he is still drawing people into a relationship with himself and then sending them out on his mission.

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Chris Hatch

Seeking to love God and neighbor