You know why I love the Old Testament? God. Sound obvious, right? But I’m serious. Within our modern Western culture, the Old Testament gets a very bad rep. God alone knows how often Leviticus is placed on the chopping block and the creation account of Genesis is made the butt of a joke. In the midst of this cultural assault against portions of the Biblical narrative, Christians may be tempted to distance themselves from the larger first portion of the Bible.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, please do not fall into this trap. Neglecting the Old Testament is a snare of the devil. The heart of God is evident and on display in the first 39 books of our Bible, and even as we might wrestle with meaning and essence of passages, we cannot fail to embrace what we believe to be God’s holy, inspired word.
What do I mean when I speak of the Old Testament’s revealing God’s heart? Well, throughout the prophets specifically, the Lord speaks of what he values and loves. And it is overwhelmingly beautiful and good and beyond the heart of man. His heart is not one that turns from destitution and brokenness. No, he looks at it, focuses on it, and moves in compassion (or calls members of his church to move on his behalf).
Over the last several months, I have been posting Scripture passages I had memorized, and through them I learned a great deal regarding the Lord’s character toward his creation. Look at his words spoken through the Prophet Isaiah to his people in Israel (Isa 58:6-12):
Is this not the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the poor homeless into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry and he will say ‘Here I am’.
If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness and your glom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in the scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of the streets to dwell in.
I am sure that numerous portions of Scripture exist that show the Lord’s heart and character to an even greater degree, but even in the one I have shared above, is not his heart obvious? Do you not see a beautiful, loving God in this passage–a God who wants for those who know him to love like he loves, to hurt for whom he hurts, to give as he gives. Who is Jehovah, that he should love us–his fallen, broken, shiftless creatures. But he does, and his love is so clear, not only in this passage but others from the prophets that I have shared on this blog (see Hosea 6 and Joel 2).
That being said, beware the influence of shifting, modern sensibilities. Do not let them pull you away from the gift of the Old Testament, from its truth and virtue. Be bold in your loving pursuit of wisdom and knowledge through God’s revelation. The Lord will bless you with a greater love of himself, which is the greatest gift for which any of us can hope.
Thanks for reading,
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Inclusion of this translation does not imply endorsement of this author’s thoughts by the copyright holders.