This year, our church is teaching an overview of the bible in a series titled “Generations”. 15 of us ladies from life group decided to read along with the teaching team and set a goal of finishing the Old Testament by June!
It was a lofty goal, and we were far from perfect, but we did it! We met every week to discuss the reading and/or sermon. I don’t know if any of us read every single chapter, but we certainly completed more bible reading in 5 months than we’ve done in the past 5 years!
Most of the women in our life group have not read through the entire Old Testament before (especially not at such a rapid pace). It’s not my style to read so quickly through the bible, but because it’s a big picture/overview, I learned some new things along the way.
Some major themes I picked up on reading through the Old Testament like this were:
Throughout Israel’s history, you see them constantly looking to “other gods”, other things for fulfillment. Over and over they kept offering sacrifices at the “high places” to Baal, and ALSO worshipping YHWH. Finally, in 1 Kings 18 Elijah calls them out! “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)
The people were not living distinctly. It was not obvious to the surrounding nations/people groups which God (or god) they served. Sound familiar? What in my life confuses people? Where do I say I follow YHWH, but also worship other things? Materialism? Success? Selfishness?
Another big theme in the OT is partial obedience. God over and over instructs the people of Israel to “destroy completely” a certain people group, nation, high places, etc and they only do so partially. And we learn right away that partial obedience is not obedience. As a result, you see certain nations that remain a thorn in Israel’s flesh.
Where in my life have obeyed some of what God has asked of me, but not all? I’ll surrender 9/10 of things to you oh LORD, but oh this ONE, this one I’ll keep?
Our God is a relenting God. He provides many opportunities for His people to repent, to turn and follow Him wholeheartedly. He sends prophets to His people who have one message “repent and be saved!” and they don’t listen. God desires us to repent and follow Him with everything so much that He will wait as long as He possibly can before judgment.
Though much of the nation followed after other gods, or only partially obeyed, or did not repent . . . there was a little population that did. The remnant of Israel. We read about it in Isaiah 4 and other places. Probably the most beautiful picture of this is in the book of Ruth. The book of Judges is full of darkness, sin, and depravity. It describes what happens when everyone does “what is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25). And then comes Ruth. A picture of this family who is faithful to follow YHWH and serve Him and Him alone.
I want to be a part of the Remnant. I want to know that in the midst of darkness, chaos, sin, and depravity in the culture around me, I can keep my eyes fixed on the LORD and follow Him and Him alone.
Needless to say, we were all desperate for some HOPE after reading through the Old Testament. Story after story of sin, and judgment, and baals, and high places, and wicked kings . . . we were all weary by the end and eager for a Savior!
Isn’t that the point? We should read through the text and wait eagerly for a Messiah!
I love how one of the gals in our group put it . . . “If you had told me the bible was this salacious and scandalous, I wouldn’t have believed you! It has some REALLY good books. The bible is totally underrated.”
Couldn’t agree more. What a joy to journey through the Old Testament together, now on to the NEW!