There are times when I love to just sit back with the bible and get into the Old Testament. It is so interesting to read about the people of so long ago, the stories of their lives, and muse about what they were going through. They were human like me, with human emotions, going through human struggles as we all do. But those of God’s choosing did so on a closer playing field with God, a God who revealed Himself to His people openly. I like to think about what it must be like to be them. What was the fear Abraham must have felt as he led his only son, Isaac, up on the mountain to sacrifice at God’s command? Did Moses question his sanity as he communicated with a burning bush? Would I have joined the Jews in dancing around a golden calf, handing over my gold to help create it? I can only imagine the heartache Samson felt when the woman he loved betrayed him. Or the fear Adam and Eve felt when they sinned for the very first time.
In the Old Testament, God was shown as a strict and terrifying God. He loved His people, yes. But he also rained wrath on them for punishment. Karma definitely existed in the way that God dished out sinner’s punishments here on earth. The Jewish people were given rules and were set apart from others to keep themselves holy. If they sinned, they were to atone for their sins through a pure sacrifice. Otherwise, their sin remained on them.
The GOOD NEWS of the New Testament is with the life and death of Jesus, everything changed.
Jesus is our sacrifice, one who is pure and good, and pleasing to the Lord. Through Jesus, all our sins are forgiven and we will join Him one day in the next world. But you know what also happened with the sacrifice of Jesus? The Old Testament became a history, and the New Testament became our gospel. And it’s confusing when scripture from the Old Testament is used to prove a point, especially when used out of context, when Jesus changed all of that. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty in the Old Testament that I read and get insight from. The suffering of Job, I learn from his continued faith though everything was stripped from him. The wisdom in Proverbs, though I take some and leave some. The beauty in Psalms, some of which could have been written in my soul. But then there comes Leviticus, with some very clear cut rules and guidelines, and ways to atone for sins and making oneself pure and clean again. First off, many of these guidelines must have been in place to keep these people alive. Diseases were very easy to come by, and there were clear guidelines on how one must deal with things such as leprosy, childbirth, etc. To touch an open sore would mean one would be unclean. If one is unclean, they are not to be touched or to touch others, and anything they touch is deemed unclean and was to be destroyed. This must have been in place to prevent the spread of this disease, as well as to keep the dwelling place of the Lord clean and holy. But there are other rules as well. To name a few….
“Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” Lev. 19:27
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” Lev. 19:28
2,000+ years ago, everything changed. A child was conceived in an unwed mother, who was told by an angel that this was to be the son of God. This child grew to be a man who preached on God’s love, and that we were God’s children. Through Jesus, God became known not for His anger at human’s shortcomings, but for LOVE of His creation. Jesus taught us true holiness, best shown by how He lived His life. Jesus was a true example of how one looks when the spirit resides in them. His life was created to allow us to model our lives after Him. And His life was created so He would lose it for OUR sins and shortcomings. Through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, we are saved. And through Jesus, we no longer have to be PERFECT to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Through Jesus, the Old Testament became a history, and the New Testament became gospel.
I wrote a blog entry one day back in November in frustration at my anger over Christianity, and my hatred of the Old Testament, how God was portrayed as an angry God that I could not understand. I was at odds with myself over my life and how it should look for God’s sake, and was in misery. It was a very hard time in my life where I felt alone in this world, angry at the way it seemed holiness was only achieved by following a bunch of rules, and I felt almost abandoned by God. In this particular entry I wrote: “There are times when I am so angry at God, at how his judgement will never find me, or the rest of the world, holy. I hate how big he is, and how invisible I feel at times. I hate the whole old testament, and what man has made of it. I hate how confusing the whole thing is.” For this entry, and especially for this statement, my name was used in several circles by people who were appalled that I would dare write, much less feel, such a thing. I have since come to terms with the Old Testament, seeing it for what it is: a book that records our history, where we came from, possesses beauty and wisdom, and lets us in on a time before Jesus existed, when humans had many hoops to go through to be accepted by God.
Because of Jesus, we are accepted by God because He created us. No hoops. No rituals. No silly laws to keep us clean and make us holy. We belong to God as we are. Because of Jesus, we get a personal relationship with God, a God of love and not of wrath. And even in these trying times where war and suffering and poverty seem to surround us at every corner, because of Jesus we have a hope in, a trust in, and a connection to God that many of the ordinary people in the Old Testament could not fathom. Through Jesus, we have a New Testament for our lives.