March 25, 2008

What God Wants Most

I sat in a small group discussion a while back and someone declared, “I think the Old Testament is a fairy tale, a myth like Greek or Roman literature.” While this cast a pall on the conversation, I think this proclamation struck at the heart of what we at times felt about the Old Testament, but didn’t want to confess.

How about you? Does the Old Testament seem like a fable? Do some of the stories (people living for 800 years, great fish, arks, tumbling walls, etc.) seem a bit far-fetched? Does it seem ancient and irrelevant? Do you wonder why the God of the Old Testament seems so angry and wrathful, little resembling the loving, forgiving God we know through Jesus?

I admit I do…or at least I did.

But an amazing thing has happened in the last year or so. I started to read the Old Testament and have discovered insights into God—and Jesus—that have been like unearthing buried treasure. It’s been fascinating.

Recently, our pastor challenged us to read through the first chapter of each book of the Bible, starting at Genesis and going all the way to Revelation. Now, my Bible is pretty well worn, but there were many books in the Bible I had never read. My knowledge of Old Testament stories, history and its important characters was extremely limited.

Well, I accepted the challenge and started reading. (And I know many of you did as well.) During this journey, I discovered a history that while ancient, is incredibly relevant. I met men and women who have so much to teach us today. I found missing pieces to the puzzle of God I’m trying to put together. And most of all I saw that the entire Old Testament, from the first lines in Genesis to the last in Malachi, is a prelude that points directly to Jesus.

I still have lots of questions, but God and His nature are much clearer now. For one thing I see that, God is a jealous god. Much of God’s anger in the Old Testament is a direct result of his children turning away from Him (which they did an awful lot!). Through Moses, God said, “They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols.” (Deut. 32:17)

Throughout the Old Testament all the way through today, what God wants most from us is not our time, our money, our talents, our prayers or our good works. He wants our hearts. He wants us to forsake the idols and false gods around us and choose Him. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he repeated again and again, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2)

Repentance means that we consciously turn from our sins (and idols and false gods) toward God. It is an act of our will.

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Open God’s word. Hear His voice. Choose Him.


Patty said...

Thanks Kelli, I really enjoyed that. I am too finding that the Old Testament has a lot to say to me.

Peggy said...

Dear Kelli,
You have put everything we talked about into great perspective, and you are truly a great writer.
Would you like to write my book????
Blessings and Love,

danregan said...

That "chapter a day" program through the Bible was indeed an eye-opener. (Men - read Ecclesiastes - really puts the dog-eat-dog work world in its place!) I won't kid you...the OT still seems mysterious and dense to me, but I can now also say, "Don't knock it 'til you've tried it." Good topic, Kel!

Scott B said...

I also made it through the Cliff Notes Tour of the Bible (No, not you Cliff) and was struck by some of the relevancy that appeared. As soon as I've completed the New Testament I think I'm finally ready for the Old!

Justin said...

Dear Kelli,

Beautiful! I'm sure this blog entry will eventually become a teaching illustration in some future sermon or Bible study!


Katherine said...

I always had a view of God as a angry God, one that would "get" me if I do anything wrong!

I also find it amazing the correlation between both the old and new testaments. It goes to show you that nothing is ever by accident, and God always have a purpose eventhough we don't always know what it is and assume that God is not on our side. When we look back at the Bible we notice that He always brought the people through.