What Difference Does the Old Testament Make?

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I’ve been reading through the Old Testament again. I just started the book of Joshua. That means I’ve gotten through the toughies, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  As I read, there are many questions that run through my mind, but they aren’t about the text so much. I’ve read it and studied it enough that I don’t need each story explained.  I am looking for an explanation and reason for THE story. I mean, if Christ is the pinnacle of the story of God, why not just start with him?

Picture it this way, Adam and Eve sin, Jesus shows up the next day and says, “Look, I’m here to fix this thing.” And he does whatever needs done. Finito, terminado, fertig, fini! Off to life with him!

I am discovering the power of the Old Testament in that the Old Testament gives Christ context. The Old Testament is Christ’s story. It is his story because it is God’s story. And Christ is God. The context of the Old Testament creates a place for the story of Christ.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see God fighting against enemies foreign and domestic, for the survival of the people he loves. We see the tenacity and passion of a scorned spouse, who will do whatever must be done to win back the wayward love of his life.

He shows up again and again, as men and angels. He brings messages of warning, instruction and comfort, all in an attempt to woo his love back into his arms of protection and promise. He breaks the rules of the universe to rescue his covenant partner, again and again from her own bad choices. He demands worship, because he knows that this love relationship with him is her only hope. And so, he gives and fights and wins, only seemingly to lose again.

There are times of frustration, but its not the anger of an opposer. It is the frustration of a parent who knows the better way and sees his daughter, or son walk headlong into danger again and again.

In this story, Jesus makes sense. This God finally comes himself. No more depending on prophets and law to mediate. He is the intermediary. He is the message. He is the kingdom they’ve been looking for. He is the final sacrifice of love. He is the victor in a final battle with the cosmic enemies of death and disobedience. He is the life of renewal and restoration.

Now as I’m reading the story of the OT, I’m reading the story of Christ. Just as, if you read the story of Darrel and Richie – or the story of Marvin and Betty – you are reading the stories of Kris and Jim. Their stories are our story. Who our parents are and what they experienced help our lives make sense. In the context, we see the fulness of meaning.

Now, as I’m reading the OT, I’m seeing Christ. I see the self-sacrificing, tenacious love that drives Him to the cross. I can now envision a fuller picture of redemption. I also see my need, my weakness, my proclivity to run from and fight against the One who loves me, for the sake of other gods who make empty promises. Lastly, I see the world I’m born into. It’s a world of hope, love and promise. But it is filled with enemies like despair, hatred, fear and death. I need a redeemer, a rescuer. I long for a king who will remake this world and my life and will place me in a new community. And that, my friend is Jesus; the Christ of God.

I hope, as you read the Old Testament scriptures, you will grab hold of the story that is Christ’s story. And I hope that this story will grab hold of you. My prayer is that through these words that God has breathed for us, you will discover him and his love for us all. And that we will know that Jesus as the fullness and perfection of that love.

 

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