“I literally hate the Old Testament. I refuse to read it.”
This statement did not roll off the tongue of an atheist. It boldly spilled out of the mouth of our young music minister. I don’t recall the young man’s name, however, I do remember the deafening silence in the room. I look back now and wonder why no one followed up with a question, why no one refuted or agreed openly with his statement. None of us seemed to know how to respond to him.
It is when my memories flash like this I wish I could go back and continue the dialogue. He wasn’t a bad guy, I just believe he had some bad logic. However, I think many think on these lines and its time we try to understand a book that is often misunderstood. (Warning: It will require effort…like you might actually have to study.)
I remember growing up and hearing lessons about the Old Testament stories in Sunday School. I remember marching around the room of my Sunday School room and singing about the Walls of Jericho and how they came tumbling down. I vaguely recall the mentioning of some pretty horrendous events that God seemed to ordain, sometimes wiping out entire nations, sparing not even the children. The God of the Old Testament was depicted in such a frightening light I was afraid to question anything I read. He was always so angry with everyone. I just wanted to stay off His radar. I read what happened when someone didn’t, so I decided to retire that section of the Bible and focus on the good part where Jesus showed up. BUT…..
So like God often does, He invited me to reread the pages of the Old Testament with a new pair of lens last year. And I felt compelled to make the reading of the OT as my family’s bible study time. (Really Lord? Do you want them afraid and totally turned off to you so soon?!)
Oh how the pages drew us in and whispered truths I had never understood before! Instead of seeing a tyrant, disconnected deity, I saw a God who truly loved His children. I no longer saw a dictator who slaughter anyone who disagreed, but a righteous Father who extended grace time and time again to protect His children.
And as I continue to study the 39 books so many of us misunderstand, myself included, I am introduced, again and again, to some beautiful truths tucked away in the threads of the Old Testament.
Even in times where He appears to be harsh in His punishments, His heart is always to protect and set His children apart. I look at the story of Adam and Eve and no longer see a God who was so angry He threw them out of the garden, but took them out so He could redeem them. If they had stayed inside and partook of the Tree of Life, they would never die and would be forever encased in their sin without any hope. (Genesis 3:22) Our sin kept us from being able to fulfill His plan and because His heart was always for us, He made a way through Jesus.
It is a beautiful masterpiece woven piece by piece. The coming Messiah was not kept a secret, but a repeated revelation of God spoken to His people throughout the Old Testament. The prophecies of Jesus’ arrival were not scattered throughout the OT and they were definitely not random.
Here are some of the definite clues about this coming that God gave in the Old Testament: (article referencing scripture can be found here)
- The Messiah would be the seed/offspring of a woman and would crush the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15).
- He would come from the seed/offspring of Abraham and would bless all the nations on earth (Genesis 12:3).
- He would be a “prophet like Moses” to whom God said we must listen (Deuteronomy 18:15).
- He would be born in Bethlehem of Judah (Micah 5:2).
- He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14).
- He would have a throne, a kingdom and a dynasty, or house, starting with King David, that will last forever (2 Samuel 7:16).
- He would be called “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Everlasting Father,” “Prince of Peace,” and would possess an everlasting kingdom (Isaiah 9:6-7).
- He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, righteous and having salvation, coming with gentleness (Zechariah 9:9-10).
- He would be pierced for our transgression and crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5).
- He would die among the wicked ones but be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9).
- He would be resurrected from the grave, for God would not allow His Holy One to suffer decay (Psalm 16:10).
- He would come again from the clouds of heaven as the Son of Man (Daniel 7:13-14).
- He would be the “Sun of Righteousness” for all who revere Him and look for His coming again (Malachi 4:2).
- He is the One whom Israel will one day recognize as the One they pierced, causing bitter grief (Zechariah 12:10).
God worked to reveal His plan throughout history! This is only scratching the surface of the beauty of God’s Word. But until we understand His nature we will always misunderstand His ways.
Let me encourage you to go take another look at Old Testament scripture. A great book I have found helpful is listed here: