My Top 10 Takeaways from the Old Testament, Part 2

To continue, here are five more ways God spoke to me on reflection over the Old Testament. Read the first five here.

6. God deeply desires all of me: my heart, mind, soul and strength.
The foundational command that God gives to His chosen people is found in Deuteronomy chapter 6: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Throughout the Old Testament, God reminds His people that life is not religious ritual or a checklist that must be completed to please Him. It is a changed heart. It is a person who seeks God with all that they are. God wanted His people to truly love Him and worship Him in every aspect of their lives. The Old Testament, and in particular the books of the law, weren’t just a set of rules and “thou shall nots”. They showcase how God wants to be the object of our our affection and praise, and how a Holy God seeks to personally be known to His creation. God wants me. He wants all of me.

7. My sin is incredibly costly.
Sin entered the world as Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and the severe consequences reach to us today. Sin separates us from the God who created us and loves us. Since the moment in time that Eve ate the apple, God has worked to draw us back to His side. The cost of that process is extreme, as the punishment (or atonement) for that sin must be paid. Adam and Eve were banished from the garden where they had perfect communion with God. Sin began to breakout in humanity to the point that God sent a flood to destroy the entire earth except for one righteous man and his family. Again, people chose poorly and God confused the language. God set up a system of purification as He created the nation of Israel to show people the cost of their sin through animal sacrifice. But, even that was abused and people decided that they knew better than God. The Old Testament closes with a series of books harkening judgment on Israel for their sins against God, as their Creator sought to wake them up so they would turn back to Him. The Old Testament gives us a heart-breaking upfront seat to how our sin penetrates, sours and destroys people, families, nations and most importantly our relationship with God.

8. God will go to extreme lengths to bring us back to Him.
The cost of my sin is overwhelming–it is a debt I cannot pay. God knows this, and from the first sin, has put plans in place to personally cover the cost because of His great love for us. Though the Old Testament records mankind’s cataclysmic fall, it also showcases God’s unyielding quest to redeem His people. God uses floods, plagues upon world superpowers, 40-year hikes in the wilderness, extreme demonstrations from His prophets, persecution, exile, rebuilding of city walls and more. God allows His people to go through difficult times to realize their need for Him and to repent, and then performs amazing miracles of deliverance. God goes to extreme measures to rescue and preserve His people. His heart for me is no different.

9. God’s mercy endures forever.
It really does. Despite all the shortcomings and failures of individuals and the Israelites in the Old Testament, God continually speaks about His redemption, giving chance after chance for them to return to Him. Even the prophets, before proclaiming God’s judgment, would remind the people that God is slow to anger. God keeps His promises, and that is on full display in the Old Testament. His great love compels Him to pour out mercy. Even when God’s holiness demands and exacts punishment for sin, and God’s people were conquered and exiled to a foreign land, God’s mercy crops up in a preservation of the people and favor with kings in Babylon and Persia. God is there with them through it all, never abandoning them. And at the end of the Old Testament in the book of Malachi, the last revelation of God for 400 years until He speaks to Zachariah, father of John the Baptist, God speaks of His ultimate display of mercy:  “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.

10. It is ALL about Jesus.
From the very beginning, Jesus was there, speaking Creation into existence. And every moment after our fall was leading to Jesus personally entering our world to pay the ultimate price of our sin on the cross. As God worked across the span of time up to His ultimate sacrifice, everything pointed to Christ. The judgment against Satan in the garden, Melchizidak, Abraham and Isaac, the boat Noah was instructed to build, Joseph, the Ark of the Covenant and every aspect of the Tabernacle, God’s system of animal sacrifice, the rescue of the judges, the united kingdom of David, Jonah’s stay in the whale and each word spoken by God’s prophets revolved around God’s ultimate plan to redeem us through the shed blood of Jesus. To know how purposeful God was to bring my heart back to His, how Jesus had already committed His life to save mine before ever creating the World, is unspeakably precious. I will never fully understand it. All I can do in response is make my life to be ALL about Jesus.

My Top 10 Takeaways from the Old Testament, Part 1

The Bible Of Love

The more I read the Bible, the more I love God.

During my daily connection time with my Savior, God has led me again through His Old Testament. Before I dive into the Gospels, I wanted to take a moment to meditate and reflect on the first 39 books of the Bible.

Here are my first five takeaways from the Old Testament:

1. God wants a real, personal relationship with me.
When God created the first people, He would walk side-by-side with them in the garden in the cool of the day. That was just the beginning. Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke directly to men and women, outlining His plans and directions. God made it clear that people were His priority, and He longed to have a vibrant, intimate relationship with them. He calls Moses His friend and David a man after His own heart. He walked with Enoch straight to Heaven; He held the forces of nature inside the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; He met Daniel in dreams; He sent a chariot to bring Elijah home to Heaven. Just as God had personal relationships with these people, so He also desires for me to be just as close to His heart.

2. God is all-powerful and in control.
With His spoken command, the universe was formed and our planet was created. Through obedient men, God sent plagues unlike the world has ever seen to bring Pharaoh and all of Egypt to their knees; parted the Red Sea so His people could walk across on dry ground; collapsed thick city walls with shouts of praise; defeated army after army in ways that were impossible to mere humans; closed the mouths of lions; moved the nations according to His plans, allowing some to rise and some to fall; and revealed the end of times through prophecy that has and will be perfectly fulfilled. God has proven again and again that He is sovereign and the ultimate authority of all, and my life in return must bow to Him.

3. God provides for His people in truly miraculous ways.
God caused bread called manna to fall from the sky, water to flow from rocks and clothes to never wear out while His people wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. God’s interventions for the people of Israel as they first were set apart are still revered and spoken of in awe to this day. He allowed a boy to defeat one of the most powerful warrior giants of the day with a slingshot, He washed away armies, He overturned oppression with a small posse carrying clay pots and torches and sounding horns. God caused a donkey to speak and changed curses to blessings. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

4. God wants to use me, showcasing His strength in my weakness.
Again and again, God chose to use people who wouldn’t naturally be picked first for the team. Take for example Jacob, Joseph, Gideon, David, Rahab, Ruth, Samuel and Esther. God took people who were not the strongest or the oldest or the wisest or the wealthiest, and demonstrated His power through them. Nations were formed, people were saved, kingdoms were united and battles were won because God’s strength was altogether evident through their weaknesses. When I am obedient and put my life in God’s hands, there is no limit to the ways God will use me in His Kingdom plan.

5. Teaching and instilling God’s truth in my children is critical.
As a mom, it is heartbreaking to see how so many heroes of Scripture utterly failed when it came to parenting or their children turned their back on what had been demonstrated in their homes. Isaac and Rebekah played favorites with their children to devastating results. The father of the nation of Israel played the same game, and his children turned on Joseph, selling him into slavery. David’s children did as they pleased, and a horrible rape in the family tore them apart and precipitated an insurrection by his oldest son to steal the crown. The sons of the first High Priest Aaron were instantly killed when they burned incense they knew was unholy. Another priest, Eli, had evil sons and God raised up a new prophet because of it (Samuel). The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, fell away from God at the end of his life, and during his son’s reign, the kingdom was torn in two. So many good kings were followed by children who instituted awful evil practices and idol worship. These examples remind me of why God urged parents to pass on all the commandments He had given while at Mount Sinai as recorded in Deuteronomy 6:7-9, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” I want to do everything I possibly can to instill God’s principles and a passion for His Word in the hearts of my children. The Old Testament makes clear the consequences when that does not happen.

 

Stay tuned for part 2 of my Top 10 takeaways from the Old Testament!