Friday, December 22, 2006


I've been reading through a survey of the Old Testament the last few days, one with general outlines and then summaries for each of the books. It's quick reading, and not really the best written in some ways. I probably wouldn't recommend this particular survey to other people to read; I'm certain there are better ones out there (I just need to go find them!). What's been really interesting, though, is to see how history unfolds in God's overarching plan for His people Israel. While the author rather high-handedly and forcibly points this out, I find the simple documentation of the history of Israel itself much more compelling than his commentary, for the simple reason that it's so very clear what God was doing. He was preparing His people - and the world around them - for the coming of the Messiah. He was building the elements of the symphony together in ever-increasing crescendos until that first triumphant moment two millennia ago.

The farther along in history one goes, the more clear it becomes how utterly hopeless man is; how utterly consumed by his fallenness and corruption he is; how utterly depravity consumes his heart. Despite repeated demonstration of God's love and power, the people of Israel turned away from Him. Over and over again they fell into sin - the same sins, every time - and walked away from a God who was simply too difficult for them to get, too hard to understand... too impossible to touch. There is, to be certain, something for us to learn in our reading of Israel's history - to see how similar we are, to see how readily we fall back into the same patterns of sin in our own lives. But far more important is to witness God's sovereignty, and to watch Him unfold His plan, unhindered by all the failures of man. Grieved by them, yes, but not hindered. It is far more important to come to understand the difference between God's version of a covenant (an ancient form of binding promise) and man's version. God's covenants with Abraham and David stand out in particular: they are unconditional; no matter what man does in response to Him, He still fulfills His covenant.

The testimony of the Old Testament is to God's perfect sovereignty and to His character of love and care for His people. And all of it points to one "moment" in time: the 33 or so years of the life of Jesus Christ. From the moment He was born, to the moment of His crucifixion, to the moment of His resurrection, to the moment of His triumphant ascent (to the moment of His return!), He was and is the perfect fulfillment of all that the Old Testament had promised. All too often, we lose sight of the continuity of God's workings in history. He was not one God in the Old Testament and another in the New. Rather, He was divinely accomplishing His purposes in preparation for the first triumphant moment in this fantastic symphony He's creating in our history. The first one was infinitely magnificent in its utter tragedy. The second one will be utterly terrible (n the old sense of the word) in its extraordinary splendor and glory. All of it - all time, every event - is ultimately about Him: the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords; the perfect Father, the Redeemer, and the Comforter.

Merry Christmas.

- Chris

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