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Struggling with the Old Testament (Christian and Jewish content)


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I decided to read the Bible this fall, all the way through in (roughly) 90 days. This is the first time I have read the entire Bible.

 

I'm almost finished with Ezekiel, and I find myself really struggling to see how to use the Old Testament as a moral guide in a modern, multi-cultural society. There are versus here and there that speak to me, but I find myself struggling with the portrayal of God, and the Us versus Them attitude just doesn't seem to relate to my life at all.

 

Have any of you had similar thoughts and feelings? I'm interested in hearing from both Christians (or former Christians) and Jews.

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sure. yes. of course. there is a lot in the OT that makes jerry springer look G rated & the real housewives seem tame. i am currently taking a bible study called "disciple". it's 36 weeks and we meet 2 hours a week. we're going through the entire bible, and i can honestly say, everyone in our group has echoed your opinion. the OT of course has so much to offer, but there will always be parts of it that are incredibly difficult to discern & apply, etc. i also think since you're reading it alone for the first time & have no one to reflect on the verses with, it could make you extra:confused: i can say going through it with a group & my pastor leading us helps tremendously! we can ask tough questions & each person offers a perspective we may not have considered on our own.

 

i'd recommend taking notes as you read & then looking at an online commentary to follow up (or simply purchase one). i have matthew henry's commentary....but there are many online for free or other good ones to purchase. or if you attend church, present your pastor with whatever questions you have. i know my pastor's seminary education is getting it's money's worth each week, lol.

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I decided to read the Bible this fall, all the way through in (roughly) 90 days. This is the first time I have read the entire Bible.

 

I'm almost finished with Ezekiel, and I find myself really struggling to see how to use the Old Testament as a moral guide in a modern, multi-cultural society. There are versus here and there that speak to me, but I find myself struggling with the portrayal of God, and the Us versus Them attitude just doesn't seem to relate to my life at all.

 

Have any of you had similar thoughts and feelings? I'm interested in hearing from both Christians (or former Christians) and Jews.

 

I don't understand the Us vs Them. Please explain. Do you mean Gentiles vs. Jews? May it never be. As a Gentile who is involved in exploring the Jewish roots of my faith, I love Israel (land and people).

 

The Jewish people "gave US (Gentiles)" Jesus/Yeshua. Now we are to "give Him BACK to Them". This applies to the Jews who are not believers, yet.

 

God calls us to live as "one new man". A Messianic Rabbi I know uses this phrase quite often to illustrate we are ONE!

 

HTH. Sheryl <><

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Hi. I'm also reading the Bible from cover to cover and have realized a couple of things...

 

- you can't just remove verses from scripture and use them. You really, REALLY have to look at the context and time in which it was written.

 

- the greatest part of the Bible is The Sermon on the Mount and also any passage where Jesus talks. Especially when he goes, "You! Back there! Are you listening to me?" :D It's almost like he's coming through the page and speaking to the reader. I had an absolute newfound respect for Jesus after reading through Matthew, Luke and John, especially. It's excellent that the things Jesus said was actually included in the Books, instead of it being a narration of his life (without his speech).

 

So, if you're still trudging through the Old Testament, it gets much, much better in the New Testament. And much more applicable...

 

Keep reading. Don't give up. If the OT gets to be too much, just start fresh with Matthew.

 

Our adult sunday school is in the midst of Solomon right now. WHEW!! :tongue_smilie: That's some crazy reading right there...especially all the descriptions/measurements of the architecture.

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I don't understand the Us vs Them. Please explain. Do you mean Gentiles vs. Jews? May it never be. As a Gentile who is involved in exploring the Jewish roots of my faith, I love Israel (land and people).

 

The Jewish people "gave US (Gentiles)" Jesus/Yeshua. Now we are to "give Him BACK to Them". This applies to the Jews who are not believers, yet.

 

God calls us to live as "one new man". A Messianic Rabbi I know uses this phrase quite often to illustrate we are ONE!

 

HTH. Sheryl <><

 

Well, I was thinking mostly of the Psalms when I was talking about Us versus Them. The Psalmist talks a lot about enemies, and I just can't really relate. (Not to say that everyone loves me :lol:, but there's no one with whom I have enough of a conflict to want God to crush them, kwim?)

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Well, I was thinking mostly of the Psalms when I was talking about Us versus Them. The Psalmist talks a lot about enemies, and I just can't really relate. (Not to say that everyone loves me :lol:, but there's no one with whom I have enough of a conflict to want God to crush them, kwim?)

 

But you have got to remember that David was living in war. People were out to kill him. In western countries, we live in a very peaceable time. There are other people in warring countries, now and throughout history, that can very much adhere to what David is saying.

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I decided to read the Bible this fall, all the way through in (roughly) 90 days. This is the first time I have read the entire Bible.

 

I'm almost finished with Ezekiel, and I find myself really struggling to see how to use the Old Testament as a moral guide in a modern, multi-cultural society. There are versus here and there that speak to me, but I find myself struggling with the portrayal of God, and the Us versus Them attitude just doesn't seem to relate to my life at all.

 

Have any of you had similar thoughts and feelings? I'm interested in hearing from both Christians (or former Christians) and Jews.

 

I recently read a book entitled How to Read the Scriptures: Then and Now. It is written by a Jewish professor of Hebrew at Harvard. He goes through the history of the Old Testament writings and compares the modern teachings about them with archaeological finds and other traditional writings. It was very enlightening, and shook up some of my preconceived ideas about scripture.

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another thought is a study bible. it has "cliff notes" (for lack of a better description) that will give you the inside scoop to that place & time regarding culture and background, etc. my study bible also covers tons of topics, with scripture references for more in depth looking. very helpful!

 

ETA - david was also a king, so his problems, enemies, issues, etc. even today would be difficult to fully relate too ...ykwim?

Edited by mytwomonkeys
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I think approaching the Bible with a "how can I relate" attitude is entirely the wrong perspective to take, but one that is very common in modern-day Christian culture. The Scriptures give us a view into the character of God, and can be taken to understand more fully what kind of God He is. When I think of the OT, I am amazed by the extreme patience of God, the faithfulness of God, and the sovereign power of God.

 

As far as the Us vs. Them attitude...I think you need to consider the Psalms in the context in which they were written. We may not have enemies such as David had, but his enemies were real. They were treacherous, and really did desire to kill him. Yet we see David crying out to God, that He might save him from his enemies and that He might bring His just wrath upon them. We see that David, despite his position as king, relies on the strength of God and trusts Him as sovereign and most-powerful. We also see that God defends, upholds, and strengthens His servant, David time and time again.

 

The OT reinforces man's utter wickedness and desperate need for a Savior. It points clearly to the Savior of the NT. It also makes very clear God's unmeasurable patience with His people. He is a mighty, powerful God who is very long-suffering.

 

2Timothy 3:16 tells us: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;" So when we read any Scripture we should ask ourselves, "What is this Scripture teaching about the character of God? Is this Scripture reproving me in any way? If I have been convicted of sin in my life, does this Scripture teach me the right way? How does this Scripture point me in the direction of righteousness, either by pointing me to the righteous attributes of God or by setting a negative example to warn me?"

 

When we approach Scripture openly with a desire to learn about God, He is faithful to do just that. When we approach Scripture with a "what can you do for me" attitude, we will usually be disappointed. (I am not trying to condemn you here, just speaking to a problem that I see frequently in the church. I have no idea how you are really approaching Scripture.)

 

One last thing: Scripture must be meditated on, prayed over, and discussed to truly be understood and ingested. Many are quick to read their Bible every morning so that they can cross it off the list - but they never consider what they've read or even remember it throughout their day. I like to keep my Bible open on my kitchen counter to the page that was most recently read. It helps to remind me that I am to chew on what I've read all day.

 

HTH,

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I recently read a book entitled How to Read the Scriptures: Then and Now. It is written by a Jewish professor of Hebrew at Harvard. He goes through the history of the Old Testament writings and compares the modern teachings about them with archaeological finds and other traditional writings. It was very enlightening, and shook up some of my preconceived ideas about scripture.

 

Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out.

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I think approaching the Bible with a "how can I relate" attitude is entirely the wrong perspective to take, but one that is very common in modern-day Christian culture. The Scriptures give us a view into the character of God, and can be taken to understand more fully what kind of God He is. When I think of the OT, I am amazed by the extreme patience of God, the faithfulness of God, and the sovereign power of God.

 

Thanks for your response.

 

My goal for this reading is actually just to become more familiar with the broad strokes. I've studied sections of it before, but there were other books that I hadn't touched at all. I expect to go back to more in-depth studies after this.

 

I wish that reading the OT caused me to be "amazed by the extreme patience of God, the faithfulness of God, and the sovereign power of God." I confess that all too often, reading the OT leads me to view God as vindictive, selfish, and childish.

 

It's not the impression I wanted to get.

 

As for relating it to myself, I kind of understand what you are saying, but I'm not entirely sure I agree. My hope was that reading the Bible would give me a better understanding of God and that that improved understanding would guide the choices I make.

 

God spends quite a bit of time in the OT talking about the Jewish people's relationship to the other religions of the time and place. The only correct relationship seems to be rooting the other religions out of the land. That doesn't seem to translate well to America in the 21st century. (Or to my own sense of right and wrong, to be honest.) So, how do I reconcile the difference? Was the OT guidance only for those specific religions? Only for that specific time and place?

 

I'm not sure if that's any clearer or not. I'll continue to think about your post.

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I taught a year-long class for adults on the Psalms, so this certainly came up.

 

One way of thinking about it is this: all of us, at one time or another, have nasty feelings. At least the psalmist is offering those up to God ("God, please kill them!") instead of killing them him (or her?) self. At their best, the psalms illustrate what to do with vile feelings: turn them over to God instead of seeking revenge.

 

Sometimes I am persuaded by the above paragraph, sometimes I'm not.

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I wish that reading the OT caused me to be "amazed by the extreme patience of God, the faithfulness of God, and the sovereign power of God." I confess that all too often, reading the OT leads me to view God as vindictive, selfish, and childish.

 

oh. i totally misunderstood your first post. i thought you were struggling with all of the insanity & immorality that took place among family members and such in the OT and seemingly strange laws. there was a whole lotta crazy taking place, lol.

 

i'm not sure what parts you're reading that make God seem selfish, vindictive, or childish???

Edited by mytwomonkeys
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Melinda,

 

If you're interested, here's an article written by a leader in the Orthodox Church (an ancient church with physical roots in the New Testament), Bishop KALLISTOS Ware, about how to approach and read Scripture. Here's a section on how we see the Scriptures as a whole, with Christ at the center:

The Scriptures constitute a coherent whole because they all are Christ-centered. Salvation through the Messiah is their central and unifying topic. He is as a "thread" that runs through all of Holy Scripture, from the first sentence to the last. We have already mentioned the way in which Christ may be seen foreshadowed on the pages of the Old Testament.

 

Much modern critical study of Scripture in the West has adopted an analytical approach, breaking up each book into different sources. The connecting links are unraveled, and the Bible is reduced to a series of bare primary units. There is certainly value in this. But we need to see the unity as well as the diversity of Scripture, the all-embracing end as well as the scattered beginnings. Orthodoxy prefers on the whole a synthetic rather than an analytical approach, seeing Scripture as an integrated whole, with Christ everywhere as the bond of union.

 

Always we seek for the point of convergence between the Old Testament and the New, and this we find in Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy assigns particular significance to the "typological" method of interpretation, whereby "types" of Christ, signs and symbols of His work, are discerned throughout the Old Testament. A notable example of this is Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem, who offered bread and wine to Abraham (Genesis 14:18), and who is seen as a type of Christ not only by the Fathers but even in the New Testament itself (Hebrews 5:6; 7:l). Another instance is the way in which, as we have seen, the Old Passover foreshadows the New; Israel's deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red Sea anticipates our deliverance from sin through the death and Resurrection of the Savior. This is the method of interpretation that we are to apply throughout the Bible. Why, for instance, in the second half of Lent are the Old Testament readings from Genesis dominated by the figure of Joseph? Why in Holy Week do we read from the book of Job? Because Joseph and Job are innocent sufferers, and as such they are types or foreshadowings of Jesus Christ, whose innocent suffering upon the Cross the Church is at the point of celebrating. It all ties up.

 

A Biblical Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, on every page of Scripture, finds everywhere Christ.

 

The rest of the article is in the link above.

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Thanks for your response.

 

My goal for this reading is actually just to become more familiar with the broad strokes. I've studied sections of it before, but there were other books that I hadn't touched at all. I expect to go back to more in-depth studies after this.

 

I wish that reading the OT caused me to be "amazed by the extreme patience of God, the faithfulness of God, and the sovereign power of God." I confess that all too often, reading the OT leads me to view God as vindictive, selfish, and childish.

 

It's not the impression I wanted to get.

 

As for relating it to myself, I kind of understand what you are saying, but I'm not entirely sure I agree. My hope was that reading the Bible would give me a better understanding of God and that that improved understanding would guide the choices I make.

 

God spends quite a bit of time in the OT talking about the Jewish people's relationship to the other religions of the time and place. The only correct relationship seems to be rooting the other religions out of the land. That doesn't seem to translate well to America in the 21st century. (Or to my own sense of right and wrong, to be honest.) So, how do I reconcile the difference? Was the OT guidance only for those specific religions? Only for that specific time and place?

 

I'm not sure if that's any clearer or not. I'll continue to think about your post.

 

A lot of what you come away with has to do with how you approach scripture. Do you believe that every single word is transferred from the mind of God to the hand of the writer? Or do you believe that the writer is a flawed human being who, in spite of a personal relationship with God, reflects the perceptions and prejudices of his own time?

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oh. i totally misunderstood your first post. i thought you were struggling with all of the insanity & immorality that took place among family members and such in the OT. there was a whole lotta crazy taking place, lol.

 

i'm not sure what parts you're reading that make God seem selfish, vindictive, or childish???

 

For example, God seems very concerned about exactly *how* the Jews are to worship him. Right down to the size of the tent and the fabric. Does it really matter? And if so, why? I'm not overly impressed with people who want to be worshiped, and I find it not overly appealing in a deity either.

 

As for vindictive, the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel are full of God outlining exactly how he will destroy various countries and groups.

 

I'm much less concerned with the bad behavior of people in the OT. I can accept that God meets us where we are.

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For example, God seems very concerned about exactly *how* the Jews are to worship him. Right down to the size of the tent and the fabric. Does it really matter? And if so, why? I'm not overly impressed with people who want to be worshiped, and I find it not overly appealing in a deity either.

 

I hear you here! I understand. I think something to remember is that God wanting us to worship Him isn't for HIS benefit, but for ours. He's not stroking his ego; it's that He knows that us becoming Christ-like is the path to our salvation, and so us worshiping Him (i.e., loving deeply who He is, so much that we give everything we have to become who we were made to be -- little Christ-ones made in His image) causes us to press into that.

 

To me the detail of how he wants them to worship him makes sense in that if everyone was just left up to themselves in figuring out how to worship (i.e., if it was all just spontaneous and according to one's own understanding, interpretation or feeling), there will eventually be a lot of infighting and disagreement on how it should look. As a result instead of one Jewish people, there would be a lot of division -- people meeting in different groups to worship according to their own understanding. If there's ONE way, and that way just is (i.e., accepted), then the people can move from trying to figure out what to do to doing it. Their relationship with God will become a living faith that involves everything they have, rather than a cerebral one where they're constantly trying to figure Him out.

Edited by milovaný
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For example, God seems very concerned about exactly *how* the Jews are to worship him. Right down to the size of the tent and the fabric. Does it really matter? And if so, why? I'm not overly impressed with people who want to be worshiped, and I find it not overly appealing in a deity either.

 

As for vindictive, the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel are full of God outlining exactly how he will destroy various countries and groups.

 

I'm much less concerned with the bad behavior of people in the OT. I can accept that God meets us where we are.

 

 

those are great questions! our small group is filled with these types of discussions. the explicit instructions that God gives to the Hebrews time and time again regarding many things (not just about the tabernacle) are imho to set the hebrews apart from the rest of the world. i believe it is also about obedience, which we see is foundational through the bible.

 

as for His wrath, i agree with you. those passages can be hard to understand, but if they're looked at in context of the whole, it can be easier to understand. my commentary really helps with passages like those. i'd recommend getting one for sure.

Edited by mytwomonkeys
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I hear you here! I understand. I think something to remember is that God wanting us to worship Him isn't for HIS benefit, but for ours. He's not stroking his ego; it's that He knows that us becoming Christ-like is the path to our salvation, and so us worshiping Him (i.e., loving deeply who He is, so much that we give everything we have to become who we were made to be -- little Christ-ones made in His image) causes us to press into that.

 

To me the detail of how he wants them to worship him makes sense in that if everyone was just left up to themselves in figuring out how to worship (i.e., if it was all just spontaneous and according to one's own understanding, interpretation or feeling), there will eventually be a lot of infighting and disagreement on how it should look. As a result instead of one Jewish people, there would be a lot of division -- people meeting in different groups to worship according to their own understanding. If there's ONE way, and that way just is (i.e., accepted), then the people can move from trying to figure out what to do to doing it. They're relationship with God will become a living faith that involves everything they have, rather than a cerebral one where they're constantly trying to figure Him out.

 

Thank you for this. This is very helpful.

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those are great questions! our small group is filled with these types of discussions. the explicit instructions that God gives to the Hebrews time and time again regarding many things (not just about the tabernacle) are imho to set the hebrews apart from the rest of the world. i believe it is also about obedience, which we see is foundational through the bible.

 

as for His wrath, i agree with you. those passages can be hard to understand, but if they're looked at in context of the whole, it can be easier to understand. my commentary really helps with passages like those. i'd recommend getting one for sure.

 

I would love a small study group. It's just not logistically possible right at the moment.

 

I do intend to purchase some books to aid in more in-depth study once I'm done with this read-through.

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Not every verse will apply to YOU...

 

This is GOD'S story--and He has invited us to be a part of it.

 

The story of David and Goliath is not there to 'help' us (or to encourage us even though it 'can' and 'might' at times)--it is there to DEMONSTRATE how God took a young and insignificant but WILLING person and used them to defeat the enemy...to me it is a foreshadowing of Jesus.

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I would love a small study group. It's just not logistically possible right at the moment.

 

I do intend to purchase some books to aid in more in-depth study once I'm done with this read-through.

 

If you're interested, I would recommend the Orthodox Study Bible -- its study notes are from the ancient perspective of the patristics/church fathers (the ones through whom the Holy Spirit worked to put the letters/books together into the Bible we have). The article I mentioned above, by Bishop KALLISTOS Ware, is one of several articles within its pages. It's been an amazing study tool for our family (keeping in mind we'd never studied church history before and hadn't realized the relevance it has on our faith today; you may already have familiarity with that).

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I think approaching the Bible with a "how can I relate" attitude is entirely the wrong perspective to take, but one that is very common in modern-day Christian culture. The Scriptures give us a view into the character of God, and can be taken to understand more fully what kind of God He is. When I think of the OT, I am amazed by the extreme patience of God, the faithfulness of God, and the sovereign power of God.

 

Beautiful. :001_smile:

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My hope was that reading the Bible would give me a better understanding of God and that that improved understanding would guide the choices I make.

 

(Or to my own sense of right and wrong, to be honest.)

 

Those two statements aren't really compatible. You are either reading it to honestly learn from God, or you are reading it, already knowing the "right answers" and looking to see if God agrees with you. Before you continue reading, I think it would be good to examine your motives. These are two different approaches, and I think using one approach and expecting the results of the other will continue to frustrate you.

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For example, God seems very concerned about exactly *how* the Jews are to worship him. Right down to the size of the tent and the fabric. Does it really matter? And if so, why? I'm not overly impressed with people who want to be worshiped, and I find it not overly appealing in a deity either.

 

As for vindictive, the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel are full of God outlining exactly how he will destroy various countries and groups.

 

I'm much less concerned with the bad behavior of people in the OT. I can accept that God meets us where we are.

 

My best advise is to ask these very questions directly of God. You can write them in a prayer journal or just ask him. He will answer.

 

When I was a child, growing up in a nonChristian home (though my parents dropped me off at church for cultural reasons, neither believed) I prayed this: "God, are you a god I should be scared of or a God who loves me?" I, too, was confused by the OT/NT and the apparent (to my eyes then) contrast.

God did answer that prayer in a way that eventually led to my conversion and my heart is very satisfied with his answer.

 

Secondly, find someone IRL who is open to answering questions and doesn't need to keep their faith in a box and never look at hard questions.

 

Thirdly, a few responses to your very good questions:

 

It is hard for you to relate to instructing people to worship you because you should not be worshipped. If you were doing the same thing, it would be wrong because you are not the kind of being who should be worshipped.

God on the other hand, is. It's not a conceit on his part. It is good and right for God to be worshipped. (Perhaps a human analogy might be that parents often have to teach their children to respect them--not because of our egos, but because it is good for children to respect their parents and they don't always naturally do that.) God is a humble being in many respects---repeatedly attempting to woo people to him who keep rejecting him. Jesus was willing to (Phil 2) set aside his place in heaven, and be born from a regular old woman--not in a castle, but in a stable. He was willing to put on the limitations of a human being in order that we might see what God is like through seeing God in human flesh--so we can relate. He was willing to be subjected to death on a cross on our behalf. That is not a vain, conceited God.

 

As far as his attitude toward sin, it is very hard for most of us to relate in our culture. We are so used to it, that it seems kind of common and normal. Probably only in our reaction to a person who has severely harmed a child do we get a taste of what God's reaction to sin is. The Canaanites, as part of their religion, practiced horrific child sacrifice. The time for them to repent of that had passed and judgment was at hand through the conquest of the land.

 

As for the Psalms, we are looking into the prayer journal of David and others. We may express our feelings to God without hiding them, even if they aren't lovely at that moment. We don't have to try to pretend.

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Do you have a study Bible? I use the NLT Study Bible, and it has notes focused on understanding the Scriptures in their original context. It's been very helpful to me.

 

The Old Testament is very hard to read. It was written to a cultural situation extremely different from ours. To begin with, the Hebrews and the other cultures around them were collectivist cultures -- life revolved around the *community* and if one person did something wrong it affected the whole community. This is why, for example, entire families are punished for something one person did -- because according to this way of looking at things, they all shared the guilt. We live in an individualist culture, where individuals are the center. Yes, we have community, but if one person does something wrong it's on them. This is a rather bad explanation, I'm afraid..you could probably find better info on this elsewhere. :)

 

The Hebrews had all the specific rules and laws in order to set them apart from the people around them, who worshiped very differently than they did. By following God's rules they would avoid getting sucked into the cultures of the people around them. God's holiness is also a huge theme in the OT. In the NT Jesus' death provides a way for people to approach God's holiness. This wasn't present in the OT.

 

The NT is a lot easier to read and makes more sense, in my experience. But both are important and both reveal God. A study Bible would probably be very helpful, along with some books about the OT. "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" is a book I've found helpful.

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Melinda,

 

If you're interested, here's an article written by a leader in the Orthodox Church (an ancient church with physical roots in the New Testament), Bishop KALLISTOS Ware, about how to approach and read Scripture. Here's a section on how we see the Scriptures as a whole, with Christ at the center:

 

The Scriptures constitute a coherent whole because they all are Christ-centered. Salvation through the Messiah is their central and unifying topic. He is as a "thread" that runs through all of Holy Scripture, from the first sentence to the last. We have already mentioned the way in which Christ may be seen foreshadowed on the pages of the Old Testament.

 

Much modern critical study of Scripture in the West has adopted an analytical approach, breaking up each book into different sources. The connecting links are unraveled, and the Bible is reduced to a series of bare primary units. There is certainly value in this. But we need to see the unity as well as the diversity of Scripture, the all-embracing end as well as the scattered beginnings. Orthodoxy prefers on the whole a synthetic rather than an analytical approach, seeing Scripture as an integrated whole, with Christ everywhere as the bond of union.

 

Always we seek for the point of convergence between the Old Testament and the New, and this we find in Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy assigns particular significance to the "typological" method of interpretation, whereby "types" of Christ, signs and symbols of His work, are discerned throughout the Old Testament. A notable example of this is Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem, who offered bread and wine to Abraham (Genesis 14:18), and who is seen as a type of Christ not only by the Fathers but even in the New Testament itself (Hebrews 5:6; 7:l). Another instance is the way in which, as we have seen, the Old Passover foreshadows the New; Israel's deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red Sea anticipates our deliverance from sin through the death and Resurrection of the Savior. This is the method of interpretation that we are to apply throughout the Bible. Why, for instance, in the second half of Lent are the Old Testament readings from Genesis dominated by the figure of Joseph? Why in Holy Week do we read from the book of Job? Because Joseph and Job are innocent sufferers, and as such they are types or foreshadowings of Jesus Christ, whose innocent suffering upon the Cross the Church is at the point of celebrating. It all ties up.

 

A Biblical Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, on every page of Scripture, finds everywhere Christ.

 

The rest of the article is in the link above.

 

 

Wow, very nice! This is something I have felt myself but never heard articulated. Thank you!

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For example, God seems very concerned about exactly *how* the Jews are to worship him. Right down to the size of the tent and the fabric. Does it really matter? And if so, why? I'm not overly impressed with people who want to be worshiped, and I find it not overly appealing in a deity either.

 

As for vindictive, the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel are full of God outlining exactly how he will destroy various countries and groups.

 

I'm much less concerned with the bad behavior of people in the OT. I can accept that God meets us where we are.

 

I've always thought of this criticism of God as very strange. Although I suppose it is natural to not like the idea of us owing any kind of debt to anyone. In this country, I think we have a hard time comprehending royalty and sovereigns. We have never lived under that system. I suppose we tend to think of demanding entities as childish. Those of us who have ever raised a toddler can fully appreciate someone stamping his foot and demanding something. A toddler is self-centered but has absolutely no right or power to demand anything. They are completely dependent upon us for their survival. However, if an entity is totally and completely perfect and has created us, it isn't childish to demand perfection from his creation. He created us perfectly and we screwed it up. He has every right to demand whatever he wants. If something has the power to create a universe and is perfectly good, holy and just, why is it a stretch to think we owe him our worship? I think the main purpose of the OT is to show how far we come from perfection. It doesn't matter what we do, we can never attain it. We always fall short. That is why the NT is so wonderful. It explains how we DON'T have to fulfill every aspect of the Law. Christ did that for us and his sacrifice is sufficient how ever far we have fallen.

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The only correct relationship is to love, honor, serve, and worship the One True God. He is a jealous God...He has said so Himself:

 

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me" Exodus 20:4-5

 

We should be turned off by people seeking worship from others, because they are sinful, frail, weak human beings who deserve nothing but death and hell. God created everything with a word, created each of us and knew us from before the foundations of the world, and sustains all that He has created. He also sent His only sinless Son to take on the sins of the world, that we (those who put their faith in Him) might be reconciled to Him. He deserves nothing less that our complete and utter devotion in all things. We should be much less concerned with our thoughts of right and wrong and instead be fastidiously learning about what He (the author of right and wrong) thinks and teaches.

 

It may seem as though all He wanted to do was uproot those of other religions. What He was actually doing was handing down due punishment to those who had willfully turned their back on Him, their Creator. He was also purifying the area so that His chosen people would not be tempted and led astray by those who were living in idolatry and wickedness.

 

It all translates to 21st C. America. We (as a nation) have turned our collective backs on the Lord of the Universe to follow the idols that we have created for ourselves, and even though God isn't currently bringing a nation here to snuff us out, His patience will expire someday.

 

Your questions are genuine, but I think you need to really ask yourself what you desire from your read-through of the Bible. Are you looking to feel good and accomplish something impressive? Are you looking for Scripture to back up your ideas of right and wrong? Or are you seeking the will of God with a genuine desire to obey the inspired words of God?

 

I pray that the Lord would direct your steps in this matter. May you be blessed in your desire to know Him more.

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I've always thought of this criticism of God as very strange. Although I suppose it is natural to not like the idea of us owing any kind of debt to anyone. In this country, I think we have a hard time comprehending royalty and sovereigns. We have never lived under that system. I suppose we tend to think of demanding entities as childish. Those of us who have ever raised a toddler can fully appreciate someone stamping his foot and demanding something. A toddler is self-centered but has absolutely no right or power to demand anything. They are completely dependent upon us for their survival. However, if an entity is totally and completely perfect and has created us, it isn't childish to demand perfection from his creation. He created us perfectly and we screwed it up. He has every right to demand whatever he wants. If something has the power to create a universe and is perfectly good, holy and just, why is it a stretch to think we owe him our worship? I think the main purpose of the OT is to show how far we come from perfection. It doesn't matter what we do, we can never attain it. We always fall short. That is why the NT is so wonderful. It explains how we DON'T have to fulfill every aspect of the Law. Christ did that for us and his sacrifice is sufficient how ever far we have fallen.

 

:confused: Really? By "us" do you mean as individuals or as a species? Because none of us are born perfect.

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:confused: Really? By "us" do you mean as individuals or as a species? Because none of us are born perfect.

 

I'm guessing she's referring to how man was created originally (before "the fall").

 

Here's an interesting article, if you're interested, about how the western and the eastern Church approach "original sin" differently. I liked it anyway. It shows that it's not guilt that we inherited from Adam & Eve, but a condition/disease. We don't need a Savior to "take our punishment for us" (thereby taking away our guilt), but a Savior who heals us from the condition of being imperfect/diseased (thereby taking away death). I don't know if that makes sense? Side trail to your question, and not a trail that you have to take of course!

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I'm guessing she's referring to how man was created originally (before "the fall").

 

Here's an interesting article, if you're interested, about how the western and the eastern Church approach "original sin" differently. I liked it anyway. It shows that it's not guilt that we inherited from Adam & Eve, but a condition/disease. We don't need a Savior to "take our punishment for us" (thereby taking away our guilt), but a Savior who heals us from the condition of being imperfect/diseased (thereby taking away death). I don't know if that makes sense? Side trail to your question, and not a trail that you have to take of course!

 

Thanks!

 

I love hearing about the Eastern Orthodox views. I never would have guessed how many of the ideas resonate with me.

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Thanks!

 

I love hearing about the Eastern Orthodox views. I never would have guessed how many of the ideas resonate with me.

 

Yeah, my husband and I joke that we've been Orthodox for a long time -- we just didn't know it before. But for us it was more practical than theological (although there were some theological aspects as well). Things like we'd always kept our kids in church with us for the most part, we'd always worn our wedding rings on our right hands (which isn't like a requirement, just traditional for many Orthodox people), I'd been wearing a head scarf to service (again, not a requirement, but a tradition for some congregations), we'd been wanting to celebrate feasts, etc. Theologically, we're learning the traditional teachings of the church and now we're going "Wow, hmmm, imagine that, cool." I think that this will go on for a very long time -- all our lives. But we're loving the Orthodox church.

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The Old Testament is the setting up of the characters and the motives for the whole play with the final act still to come.

 

There is a lot of character development, a lot of foreshadowing of the type of relationship that will come to fruition at the end of the courtship.

 

It's the bridgroom explaining who he is and why he's coming.

 

I learn new things about Him every time I read. Isaiah is probably my favorite.

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Well, I was thinking mostly of the Psalms when I was talking about Us versus Them. The Psalmist talks a lot about enemies, and I just can't really relate. (Not to say that everyone loves me :lol:, but there's no one with whom I have enough of a conflict to want God to crush them, kwim?)

 

The anger and depression and calls for revenge in some of the psalms have been of incredible comfort to me.

 

My dh was stationed at the Pentagon on September 11th. He had just returned from a morning meeting when the conference room the meeting was in was destroyed, killing nearly everyone he had just left. It was hours before I knew if he was alive or not.

 

There were weeks when these psalms of desperation were the closest that I could come to talking to God. It was actually comforting to think that there had been others before me who had also been in places of incredible sorrow and pain and still looked to God for solace. It was comforting to read of men and women after God's heart who had still had terrible things happen to them and who had done stupid, foolish things, but still returned to God.

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I think approaching the Bible with a "how can I relate" attitude is entirely the wrong perspective to take, but one that is very common in modern-day Christian culture. The Scriptures give us a view into the character of God, and can be taken to understand more fully what kind of God He is. When I think of the OT, I am amazed by the extreme patience of God, the faithfulness of God, and the sovereign power of God.

 

As far as the Us vs. Them attitude...I think you need to consider the Psalms in the context in which they were written. We may not have enemies such as David had, but his enemies were real. They were treacherous, and really did desire to kill him. Yet we see David crying out to God, that He might save him from his enemies and that He might bring His just wrath upon them. We see that David, despite his position as king, relies on the strength of God and trusts Him as sovereign and most-powerful. We also see that God defends, upholds, and strengthens His servant, David time and time again.

 

The OT reinforces man's utter wickedness and desperate need for a Savior. It points clearly to the Savior of the NT. It also makes very clear God's unmeasurable patience with His people. He is a mighty, powerful God who is very long-suffering.

 

2Timothy 3:16 tells us: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;" So when we read any Scripture we should ask ourselves, "What is this Scripture teaching about the character of God? Is this Scripture reproving me in any way? If I have been convicted of sin in my life, does this Scripture teach me the right way? How does this Scripture point me in the direction of righteousness, either by pointing me to the righteous attributes of God or by setting a negative example to warn me?"

 

When we approach Scripture openly with a desire to learn about God, He is faithful to do just that. When we approach Scripture with a "what can you do for me" attitude, we will usually be disappointed. (I am not trying to condemn you here, just speaking to a problem that I see frequently in the church. I have no idea how you are really approaching Scripture.)

 

One last thing: Scripture must be meditated on, prayed over, and discussed to truly be understood and ingested. Many are quick to read their Bible every morning so that they can cross it off the list - but they never consider what they've read or even remember it throughout their day. I like to keep my Bible open on my kitchen counter to the page that was most recently read. It helps to remind me that I am to chew on what I've read all day.

 

HTH,

 

:iagree: Well-done. I enjoyed reading your post.

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Not every verse will apply to YOU...

 

This is GOD'S story--and He has invited us to be a part of it.

 

The story of David and Goliath is not there to 'help' us (or to encourage us even though it 'can' and 'might' at times)--it is there to DEMONSTRATE how God took a young and insignificant but WILLING person and used them to defeat the enemy...to me it is a foreshadowing of Jesus.

 

What she said. It is not meant to be a moral guide, except for the ten commandments, perhaps.

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M:

 

Read the Old Testament through the eyes of the New Testament. Hebrews in the New Testament is a special help, Christ being the central theme: this is really important.

 

This is also why many Bible reading plans suggest reading both Old and New Testament passages together.

:iagree::iagree:

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For example, God seems very concerned about exactly *how* the Jews are to worship him. Right down to the size of the tent and the fabric. Does it really matter? And if so, why? I'm not overly impressed with people who want to be worshiped, and I find it not overly appealing in a deity either.

 

As for vindictive, the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel are full of God outlining exactly how he will destroy various countries and groups.

 

I'm much less concerned with the bad behavior of people in the OT. I can accept that God meets us where we are.

 

Discipline. Patton once said:

“It is absurd to believe that soldiers who cannot be made to wear the proper uniform can be induced to move forward in battle. Officers who fail to perform their duty by correcting small violations and in enforcing proper conduct are incapable of leading.â€

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Well, I was thinking mostly of the Psalms when I was talking about Us versus Them. The Psalmist talks a lot about enemies, and I just can't really relate. (Not to say that everyone loves me :lol:, but there's no one with whom I have enough of a conflict to want God to crush them, kwim?)

Well, in some of the Psalms written by David, he is in the process of being hunted down because King Saul wants to kill him.

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Those two statements aren't really compatible. You are either reading it to honestly learn from God, or you are reading it, already knowing the "right answers" and looking to see if God agrees with you. Before you continue reading, I think it would be good to examine your motives. These are two different approaches, and I think using one approach and expecting the results of the other will continue to frustrate you.

:iagree:

Also, I would like to add that scripture was written with the presupposition that God IS sovereign and we are NOT, and WE are to honor and adore Him because He is worthy of our praise and adoration. We are NOT worthy, but God in His great mercy has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. Scripture is about revealing to us God's character and revealing His Son to us and to show us how we are to live to please and honor God.

Unless the reader of scripture comes with an attitude of praise and adoration for the author of God's Word they will not "hear" the message of God's Word. God's word will only grow and produce fruit if it is planted in the right kind of soil. There's nothing wrong with God's Word. The soil it is planted in is often not the right type for it to grow and produce fruit. But when it is planted in the right type of soil it will produce a beautiful bountiful crop.

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