LEARNING FROM THE OLD
Now, on the surface this could seem to be a rude statement. I could have said “learning from those who went before me”, or “learning from those who have gained wisdom from their years on this earth.” Or maybe I could have said something like “wisdom gained from seniors.”Any of those would be a good way to state the point, if that was the point I was trying to make. But that is not the point I am trying to make, because the old I am referring to is what we call the Old Testament, the scriptures before Jesus was born into this world.
The Old Testament, though confusing at times, is fascinating. No, I am not under any of the old ways or laws. Do I try to keep most of the 10 Commandments? Yes, but not because they are binding on me, but because they are good rules to follow. Plus, most of them, except for the Sabbath command, are stated or at least alluded to in the New Testament.
I find the Old Testament fascinating for two reasons. First, is how so many of the laws and practices set up what we have through Christ. In theological terms it is referred to as the type and anti-type. In my way of thinking, it is more, “Oh, so that’s why that is done that way.” Or, “Oh yea, that makes sense when taking into account the Old Testament.” An example would be Jesus being called the Lamb of God, with reference to the blood shed for our sins. Taking into account the lambs that were slain on the night of Passover that signaled the freedom from the bondage of Egypt, we can see how we are freed from the bondage of sin by Christ’s blood. It makes sense. Another example would be Jesus as the high priest, or us now being called priests. It all makes sense when seen through the writings about high priests and their role in the Old Testament.
The second aspect I find fascinating are the people. These aren’t imaginary people on the pages of a novel, but real people who lived real lives. In the living of those lives we see great triumphs as well as some really stupid actions. We see tremendous acts of faith and we see despair, sometimes from the same person in a short period of time. What I see are real people. People trying to do what is right. People really messing up at times. People who are a lot like me. And through all of it, a God who is there for these people. A God who is serious about commitment to Him, but also one who is gracious. He had to be, or the Israelites would have never crossed the Red Sea.
So if you want to learn how to live your life or discover what God expects from a true follower, open what we call the New Testament and start reading. But if you want to find encouragement as you try to live your best, open up some of the books of History in the Old Testament: Kings, Chronicles, Samuel, maybe check out Exodus. Even the book of Numbers is more than just about counting the people. I learn a lot by observing others as they try to follow God, even if they are not perfect.
And if you want to gain some modern wisdom, sit down with one of our seniors and just visit. They have lived lives following God. Not perfect lives, but forgiven lives, and we can learn a lot from their History, too.