Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why You Should Read the Old Testament

Some parts of the Bible are easier to read than others. It's easy to get bogged down on the law and the books of Old Testament history. "This wasn't written for me," I can think, "It's written for the Israelites. I'm not an Israelite." A simple answer to the question "Why should I read the Old Testament?" is that the Old Testament helps us know who God is. But like most simple answers, this does not explain everything.

For one thing, if you have just read something encouraging (Philippians, for example) reading the O.T. may seem a bit depressing. Israel is caught in a seemingly endless cycle of sin, oppression, and deliverance. Sure Hezekiah saves Judah from Assyria, but the king after him is a jerk. Also, many of the books in the O.T. were not written like the "letters" books--as a pieces of practical advice.

One practical reason to read the Old Testament is that it's just plain interesting. I always feel a sort of poetic justice when Jezebel gets eaten by dogs.
There is a lot we can learn from the Old Testament history. By studying the righteous figures we can learn what God likes. By seeing the serious consequences when the people turn from the Lord, we can more fully understand how amazing not having to pay the price for our sin really is. Lastly, the O.T. shows us just how much Israel needed God. The continual downfall-repentance cycle would have gone on is He had not mercifully intervened for Israel and for us.

Hamlet Update:
I finished a week ago and liked it! Time to choose a February novel.

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