Do you ever come across a passage of Scripture that you memorized or a story in the Bible in its context and realize your memories of it were rather twisted, different or even superficial because you heard it out of its context?
Context makes such a difference doesn’t it?
Watching a mother grab her child and quickly throw water all over the child looks like she is a terrible mother…until you learn that she was trying to quickly rid the child of something toxic the child had just gotten into… that for the sake of the story, was water soluble.
Or think of the mother who is forcing her child to drink something her child hates and makes the child cry. To the onlooker, she looks like an awful mom. But she has just been told that in order to save her child’s life, she must give her child ipecac to make her throw up because the child ate something poinsonous and must get it out of her system!
In these examples, if we look at the short part of the story, out of context, the mother looks mean and uncaring. We wonder why she would treat her child in such harsh ways…until we hear the rest of the story.
There are some who dislike reading the Old Testament.
- It is too violent.
- There are too many wars.
- The O.T. GOD is too harsh.
- There is no grace.
- There are too many rules.
And I say, you aren’t reading the same Old Testament I am reading. The Old Testment that is actually there! You are remembering bits and pieces of something you have heard about.
It does have gore for sure. It tells things as they truly are in a world that is broken. There was no pretense. People were much more concerned about surviving.
GOD is telling His story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration
In the middle of that world, GOD was telling His story…a story of Creation, the Fall, how He was preparing to Redeem His world and eventually Restore it. It’s important to know the final outcome! Justice and Righteousness is going to win out in the end when the whole world will be restored…even better than Eden!
In order to redeem us, He needed to have a people to call His own in the middle of all that idolatry, debauchery and self-centerdness. He found a man named Abram. A man who trusted Him…not perfectly by a long shot! Abram didn’t just pick up and follow GOD, He puttered around waiting for his father to die, but He did follow GOD. Along the way, He failed plenty of times, even after GOD promised him a child, Abram muddled it up more than once…a truth that is not lost on me!
GOD knows we all are a mess. He is never shocked when we fail Him…ever. When I hear people say, “Oh my, I let GOD down.” I want to laugh. When we fail, it helps us understand who we truly are. GOD already knew! (cf. Deuteronomy 8:2-5) If we weren’t a mess, we wouldn’t need redemption in the first place. The cross wouldn’t have been necessary. It is easy to live in denial about that, but it isn’t the case! We sin because we want to. We don’t like to believe it, but it is true…just as it was for them…and our two year olds!
But back to the history of Israel. We read it through, thinking it is simply about them, not us. Really? It is about all of us as humans. GOD gives us a standard to live by and we say, “Yes, I’ll do it!” And we try…For about five minutes!
Then we go on our merry way! It happened over and over. We watch it in our children and are so shocked. We try it ourselves and get horribly frustrated.
It is human nature, pure and simple. Some are sneakier about it, others more blatant, but it is human nature just the same.
GOD’s grace: the great interruption in our lives!
When GOD’s grace interrupts our lives, it is a mercy and a shock! Neither of which do we realize at the time because His interruptions of grace don’t always feel like grace or mercy just as they didn’t to Israel. His testing of them so they would be humbled, know what was in their hearts, know whether they would obey Him? I’m sure it didn’t feel like grace! But it was.
In the same way a diagnostic test that shows there is a malignant tumor growing that needs treatment. It is a grace! It feels anything but gracious, but at least we know what has to be done. Where the treatment needs to be that is sapping our energy and strength needs to go…or we will die!
Hopefully, at some point we realize we need the grace of GOD to save us. We can’t do it on our own. Only GOD can open our eyes to the fact that we need Him. That we don’t have the ability to do His will on our own.
The days when we are exceedingly weak are actually the good days, because He takes that weakness and makes us strong…in the power of His might.
GOD’s economy is so backward and upside down! He makes weak people strong. He makes the fool wise. He often has to make the strong man weak and the wise man (in his eyes) a fool before He can use them for His glory. It is an upside down economy for sure!
I haven’t said all I planned today, but I think I have said enough.
Blessings ladies…and the few men of you who are reading. We’re glad you’re visiting too.
Have you read the Old Testament lately?
If not, plan to read an Old Testament book. Deuteronomy is a great one as Moses recounts for Israel their history as they get ready to enter the Promised Land…and he prepares to die.
When you read the Old Testament, here are things to look for.
- What do you learn about GOD’s character?
- Where do you see Jesus or Jesus figures?
- Where do you see GOD’s grace?
- Where do you see GOD’s justice/judgement?
- Where do you see yourself in these characters?
- Not all these things will be in every passage, but when you hunt, you will find more of them than you anticipated.