Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The OT

We started the Old Testmant on June 1st, and we finished this weekend. I've got to tell you, I highly recommend this uber-paced Bible read through. There's no in-depth study involved, of course, but it is making us consider everything differently. Here are some more random Bible ramblings based on our experience thus far. (Not sure how quickly we'll finish the NT, we only have 2 weeks left for our 90-day quest, but we'll see what happens.)
  • Jonah suddenly makes sense. He always seemed like such a curmudgeonly old racist, what with hoping the Assyrians would not be saved but would rather be crushed. But now I can understand it somewhat better from a Jewish perspective. (You've been promising us for generations that you'll save us from the oppressive Assyrians, God, and now you want to save them?!)
  • God really cares about justice. And mercy. And the poor, the widow, the alien. I know that's super hip to say in the current spiritual climate, but hey, it's in there. (A bunch.)

New Testament Ramblings

Reading Matthew is having such a different effect on us now in the context of hundreds of years of Jewish history and ancient culture.

  • Suddenly what Jesus says seems so radical. He says of the Centurion, a Roman that he hasn't seen any in Israel with such faith as his. Many will come from east and west--other nations--to be in the Kingdom of heaven like Jonah's Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba, whereas many Israelites will be thrown out. That seems so much more extreme considering all the promises to the Israelites we just read. But God shows again and again that what he cares about is the heart, not who your daddy is.
  • Jesus' teachings are so in depth, compared to the fairly basic commands of the Old Testament. He raises the bar to a much more difficult level.
  • Jesus' teachings are so beautiful and radical. One small example Mike and I were talking about tonight is how Jesus said the only valid reason to give a divorce certificate to a wife was unfaithfulness. The Jews had developed rules, such as a man could divorce his wife for burning the food. Today some cultures have similar rules. For example, in some parts of India during a trial period at the beginning of the marriage, the husband evaluates his wife. If he's not pleased with her, for whatever reason, he can chuck her. This leaves the woman with virtually no options; she's no longer a virgin and is dishonored. In making these strict laws of divorce, Jesus protects a woman from unfair desertion and ostracizing.


Mike V. said...

Yay, comment comments comments! You so smart. You read Bible good.

Mike V. said...

I do agree that the New Testament seems more shocking and revolutionary (though fitting) after reading the OT. It's crazy stuff, and you can see why it was hard for the people to accept. You can also see the story of how God brought the Jews to this point, bit by bit, and how long it took just to get them where they were ready for it.

Mike V. said...

Another comment... Dropping your wife because she burned the cooking seems a little unfair. A little. It's a little disappointing to think of any guy being that much of a jerk. Imagine if women could do that, just drop you because your back is getting a little hairy. I'd certainly be out on my butt. Luckily my wife is pretty generous-minded. She's still with me, even though I'm a ding-bat.

Elizabeth Messer said...

Mike, you are not a ding-bat.

Amber, great thoughts! I have thought about doing the plan...but due to my infinite laziness, I am just not sure of commiting to another thing and not finishing it ( like my vow to get up at 6..instead I get up at seven. Purpose Driven Life, not finished...and lots of other things.) Still, "forgeting what is behind...and pressing on" would be good for me!

Love you guys!

Michael Jonathan Van Schooneveld said...

I think a good book about God and how he works would be: "Unworthily Chosen: Seeing God's power in his choice of poor materials"

God chooses to use people who really don't seem to have much going on. And it's crazy. He accomplishes so much through people who aren't merely unimpressive from a worldly standpoint, but aren't impressive from any standpoint. But God chooses them and does great things with them. In some cases he makes great people out of them. Look at the Jews. The most stubborn of people, always rebelling in the most awful ways, born from a family of such misfits they probably would be be under discipline and kicked out of the church today. Look at Jonah, completely against God's mission for him, but the city of Nineveh was brought to repentance. Look at husbands. We're chosen as heads of our families, but let's be honest...we're awful. We're not even close to being like Christ is to the church. It seems like a terrible choice. Look at Jimmy, the Kenyan we had staying with us; a poor, undernourished kid from the slum with bulging belly hanging out by the dump, but God picked him and chose him and now he's going to change the world. Jimmy told me several times that the question he really wanted to ask his sponsor was, "Why me?"

The only reason I can think of is that God likes to show his power through what he can accomplish, even when it looks like there's nothing there in our own eyes. as for those of us who are chosen to be used, there's nothing to boast about. We can get confused and think we're pretty great to get to be God's people or our wives' leaders or God's messengers. Most of us don't deserve it. We certainly don't deserve to lord it about like we're some sort of special chosen people who are oh-so-awesome. God could raise up a people from the stones themselves if he wanted. As for myself, I find what little position I have as leader or messenger to be somewhat humiliating. Because I don't deserve it..not at all. But what I have isn't mine to give up, even as it wasn't mine to take. And that's the craziness of God.

sarahbri said...

Trudat Mike. That God, he must be crazy.