Finally! We’ve made it to Jesus! As much as I value the Old Testament, I’m thrilled that we are now beginning to read the gospels and encounter our Savior and Lord! The Old Testament has been a kind of prelude to the grand theme of Scripture. It has introduced us to a God who desires a loving relationship with people. It has dramatically shown how that relationship is completely impossible when dependent on the faithfulness of people. The Old Testament helped us to see that no law, no sacrifice, no system of religion is capable of connecting people to God because we cannot be faithful to any system…..we need a Savior!
Before you sit down to read the gospels this week I would encourage you to read the book of Malachi again. As you read about Jesus, how does some of what you read fulfill or speak to what the prophet Malachi prepared you for?
I would also love to hear about any other new insights you gained when reading about the birth and early years of Jesus. Sometimes, these passages become so familiar to us that we quickly skim them, thinking that there is nothing new to learn. After all, we hear them every Christmas at the very least! Instead, let’s ask God to reveal himself further in these passages and then share those new insights with one another.
May your time with God this week be blessed!
This week you will read a few passages from the Psalms and Proverbs. While these books are a great treasure within God’s word, they require an adjustment in your thinking when we you read them.
The Psalms are primarily poems many of which were written to be sung. In order to get your mind around this necessary shift consider how simply speaking/reading your favorite love song, fight song or even “happy birthday” instead of singing it changes the impact of the meaning that is conveyed. Much of the meaning of a song is conveyed by the emotion of the melody. Nonetheless, the Psalms given us “God approved words” to give expression to our emotions and can therefore be a great blessing to our faith and prayers in particular.
The Proverbs are statements of general wisdom from a father (Solomon) to his son. As general statements of wisdom they are not meant to be understood as literal promises that will always come true. Instead, they describe general cause and effect relationships in our world.
With that in mind, consider Proverbs 3:1-2. How would you support this statement as generally true. (ie. those who are not gluttonous generally have better health) What exceptions have you seen to this statement of truth?
In addition to answering this question, I’d love to hear what some of your favorite Psalms are and why?
The passages this week offer a dynamic witness to the relationship between an unfaithful people and an always faithful, just, and merciful God. In the Scripture, we read about King David’s egregious sin with Bathsheba and experience his heartfelt repentance. We meet Solomon who is given great wisdom by God, but abuses his power by disobeying God later in his reign. We are introduced to worship in the temple built by Solomon and a prophet (Elijah) who boldly serves God on Mt. Carmel while fleeing from God’s work in fear shortly thereafter. Lastly, we read about the fall of Jerusalem and the exile of the God’s people; a gut-wrenching event that will make the people desperate for God’s deliverance and a savior!
The account of Elijah, specifically, is one that informs and encourages my life. It’s baffling to think about the juxtaposition of Elijah’s emotions in this passage. How can one man move so quickly from courageously and boldly challenging the prophets of Baal, defending the name of God only to turn and flee immediately afterwords when challenged by Queen Jezebel! It makes no sense!?! Then again, how often do I find myself serving God in bold, faithful and even courageous ways only to see those times followed by moments of doubt, depression, fear and sin. This is one of the things I appreciate most about the Old Testament….the ability to relate to characters within.
Do you relate to any of the characters you’ve read about this week or in previous weeks? If so, how has this encouraged your faith?