Friday, October 29, 2010

I thought we just finished the OT

Through the Bible in 90 Days: Day 68

Read Zechariah 11:1-14:21; Malachi; Matthew 1:1-4:25

Verse that stood out:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them - Matthew 5:17

Around my church, excitement has been really building for this day, the day our reading moves from the Old Testament into the New Testament. Relief. Joy. A sense of homecoming. All of these and more are probably being experienced today. It's not that most of my church members disliked the OT. They liked it, or at least, respected it. But without a doubt, much of the OT appears bizarre to modern men and women. There are large sections of the prophets or the history books that are so foreign to modern life that they can be difficult to read through, much less find a significant word from the Lord in them. This is mostly our own fault, being so out of practice when it comes to reading these parts of the Bible. Our devotional life tends to focus on only a few of our favorite passages in either Testament.

A fair warning, though. The OT isn't going anywhere even though we're turning our attention to the New. We've just read four chapters of Matthew and already references have been made to Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea. The New Testament doesn't replace the Old, but builds upon it. One cannot fully understand the story of Jesus and the church without understanding the story of Israel. Jesus said as plainly as he could, "I've not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them." The hopes of Israel, the desires of the prophets, the demands of the Law, they are met in Jesus Christ.

His words, when we pay attention to them, sound much more like the prophets than they do of the self-help preaching that so dominates modern, western Christianity. In Jesus' teaching we find no "Three steps to a better life" kind of message. His main sermon? Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.

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