Reading the Old Testament – Part 4

old testamentIn my last two posts, I discussed what not to do when reading the Old Testament, what to do, and different Bible reading plans. Today I want to give two examples of some OT passages and why I have them marked in my Bible.

Numbers 32:6-27

We all know the story of the Israelites coming to the promised land and then not trusting in God to deliver it into their hands as He had promised, the result of which was wandering in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation had completely died off, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua. In Numbers 32, we see a similar situation occur where the tribes of Gad and Reuben balk at going against certain cities and kings. They are happy with what they have and don’t want to fight alongside the other tribes. But when God warns them that they are about to make the same mistake as their fathers did before them, they repent immediately and go to fight. As a result of their obedience, God gave the cities into their hands.

I like this passage for several reasons:

  1. God gives them a chance to repent. He reminds them of the past and warns them of what will happen if they don’t obey.
  2. They actually do change their minds! So often in the OT you want to pull your hair out reading about the Israelites’ decisions but here is an example of them doing what was right.
  3. Verses 20-22 “If you will do this…cross over the Jordan before the LORD until He has driven His enemies out before Him, and the land is subdued before the LORD…” (emphasis mine). I just love passages that speak to God’s absolute control over situations here on earth. Israel was about to go out and fight but the passage speaks of God being the one to drive out the enemies and subdue the land.

So what can I extrapolate from this chapter? A few things:

  1. God is a sovereign God with complete control over every outcome.
  2. God is patient.
  3. Repentance is good!

This is in no way an exhaustive list but is only what came to mind as I was reading this passage earlier this week. Do you see how simple it can be to take a narrative passage and pull some truths about God from it? And which of us does not benefit from reminders and examples of God’s sovereignty and patience and constant calls to repentance? I know I do.

Job 27:1-6 (this one is shorter so I’ll include it here for you)

“Then Job continued his discourse and said,

‘As God lives, who has taken away my right,

And the Almighty, who has embittered my soul,

For as long as life is in me,

And the breath of God is in my nostrils,

My lips certainly will not speak unjustly,

Nor will my tongue mutter deceit.

Far be it from me that I should declare you right;

Til I die I will not put away my integrity from me.

I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go.

My heart does not reproach any of my days.'”

I like the book of Job because he has suffered more than most of us probably ever will. Most of us will never know the pain of losing all of our possessions and all of our children in one day. Most of us will never be afflicted with the same kind of physical pain as Job. Most of us will never be surrounded by unhelpful, critical ‘friends’ as we navigate through the worst trial of our lives. This makes Job a powerful reminder of the immense blessings I have even in the midst of a trial.

This passage speaks directly to Job’s bearing up under his suffering. Who doesn’t feel for his pain? Who can read of his rejection of speaking unjustly or deceitfully and his desire to hold fast his integrity and righteousness even in the midst of his pain and not feel the twinge of conviction and encouragement to do the same? It can be easy for us while in a trial to speak unjustly about the situation, others involved, or even God Himself. As my mom used to say “It is an opportunity for sin but not an excuse.”

It is also a great example of a man speaking truth to himself in the midst of suffering. So much of the fight against sin and the effects of sin takes place in our minds where we declare truth to ourselves and resolve to continue to acting in such a way as to bring glory to God. 

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