Zoo Station

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The Old Testament isn’t just a snooze-fest after all…

Posted by Chance on June 2, 2006

Honestly, even though I have been a Christian for as early as I can remember, I was never a fan of much of the Old Testament, other than Genesis, the Psalms, and the Proverbs. Lately, though, I’ve been on a Bible Reading plan. It’s kind of like the ones in which you complete the Bible in a year, except at the rate I’m going, it will be more like 3 or 4. Anyway, in order to do this, I have to read through the dreaded books of the Law, such as Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, etc…

While I won’t do an about face and say that all these books are completely exciting, they do have relevance for today. The main theme that sticks out to me anyway is the relationship between God and Israel. In Exodus, God frees Israel from cruel slavery under the Egyptians to take them to the Promised Land. However, as soon as the Israelites encounter the slightest problem they want to go back to their slavery. For a good article on this, see Dissatisfied with Freedom at Gabbatha University.

This theme hits home with me, because God has delivered me from some crappy stuff. I won’t go into too much detail, but I don’t think I, for some time, truly appreciated this deliverance. We often forget about how crappy our lives were before. This theme continues within the book of Judges, where the Israelites fall into idol worship and other sin, which leads to oppression at the hands of their neighbors or people within their borders. After some time (20 years in some instances!), they finally cry out to God, and God sends someone to deliver them. After some time, however, they forget how God delivered them, forget their oppression and pain when God didn’t protect them, and went back to their sinful ways.

As individuals, we can do the same thing as well. We forget about how our sins enslave us and how God delivered us. While I do not believe in obeying God simply so that we will be “happier” and avoid sin because it makes us miserable (our goal should be to glorify God, not for our personal happiness), these things can be reflections of our relationship with God. In other words, joy and misery in our own lives should not be our motivation to pursue God, but I believe they can be a reflection of our walk with God. Maybe the Israelites did not understand this. Perhaps their motivation was simply to be a free country and avoid oppression, instead of pleasing God. Having pure motivations is a challenging thing, and it is why we should focus on pleasing God, rather than simply not sinning.

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