3 Lessons from the Old Testament

I’m all the way in Zechariah now, one book away from making it to the New Testament, so it’s time to collate the information I’ve gained.

  1. God cares for the poor, weak, and oppressed. There are repeated calls to protect the weak, execute justice for the oppressed, and provide for the poor. This is in keeping with Jesus’ attitude in the New Testament.

    Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked – Psalm 82: 3, 4

    “This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” – Jer 22:3

  2. God does not care for phony religion. The religious requirements in the old testament were many: Fasting, feast days, tithes, rules on what you could eat, what you could wear, who you could associate with. Rules about hygiene and what kinds of animals could plough together. But there was little point keeping those rules if you didn’t care about the things that were important to God: justice, mercy and faithfulness. This is why the list of commands has been replaced with the most important two: Love God and Love Your Neighbor. If you’re not doing these things, your fasting and prayer and church attendance is phony. Jesus too had this attitude in dealing with Pharisees, chastising them for their slavish adherence to rite while they neglected the important things.

    Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. – Matt 23: 23, 24

    This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!’ If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave to your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
    Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe’– safe to do all these detestable things? – Jeremiah 7: 3 – 10

    This is not to say that you can or should do whatever you want so long as you donate a suitable portion of your income to the poor and don’t oppress anyone. The first command, after all is to love God. And as Jesus said, loving God involves keeping his commandments (John 14: 15). The Israelites were condemned for their worship of other gods and desecration of the Sabbath as well as for their oppression and injustice. The key is not to assume that adherence to rite is a substitute for love.

  3. God cares for all people. The mercy shown to Nineveh, the call to treat foreigners well, the promises that all nations of the world would someday worship God all proclaimed that God’s care went beyond just the Jews before Paul ever declared “There is neither Jew nor Greek”. God’s care for all people is present in his justice as well as his mercy. The prophets record his promise to punish both treacherous Israel and her corrupt neighbors and oppressors.
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Midweek Praise – Hands of the Healer

Blood flows down
Blood flows down
Flowing from the hands of the Healer
Death is bound
Death is bound
It’s broken in the hands of the Healer

So beautiful oh so beautiful
So beautiful Your love

Glory to the King who gave His life
Glory to the Lamb of sacrifice
Beautiful and broken
Holiness and love
Glorious the wounded hands of God

Risen life
Risen life

Purchased by the hands of the Healer

Sanctified
Sanctified
How precious are the hands of the Healer

So beautiful oh so beautiful
So beautiful Your love

Glory to the King who gave His life
Glory to the Lamb of sacrifice
Beautiful and broken
Holiness and love
Glorious the wounded hands of God

So beautiful oh so beautiful
So beautiful the hands of love
So powerful oh so powerful
So powerful the hands of love

Checking In

I just want to point out that I really am still alive. I just haven’t gotten around to working on any of the things on my list of topics to write about. Currently on the list are:

  1. Justification: Faith or Works (or Why Did God Choose Abraham?). This also pertains to the issue why God chooses one person for a certain role and not another. Is it because they have certain qualities that makes them more likely to succeed? It is arbitrary? Does God prefer people who keep his laws, or is he just as likely to choose a lawless person? Could God have chosen King Ahab or Queen Jezebel? If not, then could we get on his good side by doing the right things?
  2. Marriage in the New Testament: I have talked about why a society should prefer some idea of marriage to another but I’m also trying to understand what God’s plan and ideas about the issue. Is it better to marry or not to marry? What should be the aim of marriage? How do children fit into a marriage?

There were other things on the list, but someone deleted my sticky note, so I can’t recall them.

Midweek Praise -The Lord Our God

(Chorus)
The Lord our God is ever faithful
Never changing through the ages
From this darkness
You will lead us 
And forever we will say 
You’re the Lord our God 

Promise maker, promise keeper
You finish what You begin
Our provision through the desert 
You see it through ‘til the end 
You see it through ‘til the end

I Believe
(Chorus)

In the silence, in the waiting
Still we can know You are good
All Your plans are for Your glory
Yes, we can know You are good
Yes, we can know You are good 

(Chorus)

We won’t move without You
We won’t move without You 
You’re the light of all 
And all that we need

(Chorus)

Midweek Praise – Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.

God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Midweek Praise – Great I Am

This is late, but what can I do?

I want to be close
Close to Your Side
So Heaven is real
And death is a lie
I want to hear voices of angels above
Singing as one

(Chorus)
Hallelujah, holy, holy
God Almighty, the great I Am
Who is worthy, none beside Thee
God Almighty, the great I Am

I want to be near
Near to Your heart
Loving the world and hating the dark
I want to see dry bones living again
Singing as one

Chorus

The mountains shake before You
The demons run and flee
At the mention of the name King of majesty
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the great I Am
The great I am, the great I Am

Chorus x2

Reading Update on the Psalms

I haven’t written a lot on the psalms. Maybe it’s because they’re more meditative, or maybe I just don’t see the things I need to see. Or maybe I’m too lazy. But it’s a good experience. I’m only 20 chapters in, but it’s bringing back a desire to know and serve God as well as reminding me that I can trust him. It’s all about how God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked, so the righteous can always call on him in times of trouble. It’s all about righteousness, God faithfulness and constant cries for help.

Of course, there’s all the talk about God defeating one’s enemies, but I don’t have any enemies – besides that one adversary the Bible keeps talking about, that is. The message is clear: serve God and trust him.