Today’s post is part 9 of our Spiritual Disciplines of a Leader series. Previous posts in the series include Spiritual Disciplines of a Leader, Eliminating Hurry, Sabbath, Solitude, Prayer, Community, Simplicity, and Worship.
“As it is written…“
We find Jesus and Paul use this language A LOT (i.e. Mark 7:6, Romans 8:36, 1 Corinthians 1:31). Here’s what’s interesting though… Did you know that every time this is written in the New Testament, it refers back to a verse or a passage in the Old Testament, or what the Hebrews just would have called their “Scriptures?”
Now, this may or may not be common knowledge to you, but when I learned this, it helped me to better understand how to read the Bible.
And what you may be asking yourself is, “Okay? So? What does that matter to me or why is it even important?”
First, in the time of Jesus, there was no “New Testament”. That didn’t exist yet. When Jesus read His “Bible,” what He would have been reading would have been what we call our “Old Testament.” It would have been a bit weird for Jesus to pull out the book of John and start teaching on a book written about Himself, right? You may say, “Wasn’t that what He WAS doing? He was God after all!” True, but let’s remember that not everybody believed that Jesus was God. So, when Jesus read, He was reading Genesis, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Joel! Books like Matthew, John, and Galatians were written after He ascended to Heaven.
I grew up with the thinking that the Old Testament was nothing more than a history book. For me, I would have been as excited about reading the Old Testament as I would have been reading a high school textbook. But when I came to the realization that it was not only a history book, but also, a part of God’s story, something changed for me. Jesus was referring to passages in our Old Testament about Himself and He was a part of God’s redemption story all along. From Genesis to Revelation, we are reading a unified story, written by over 40 different authors, that ultimately points to Jesus as the Savior and King of the world He so dearly loves.
So we ask ourselves, “Okay. Still, why does this matter to me?” Because, as Christians, we are called to imitate the life of Jesus.
Why do spend time alone with the Lord? To be with him, but also because Christ modeled that for us. Why do we reach out to those who don’t yet believe with the love of God? Because Jesus modeled it for us.
So, why spend time reading our whole Bible? Because that’s what Jesus did and it’s part of His bigger story. Many people in the Church have come to believe that since Jesus is our Savior and if we believe in Him, we will be saved, so why do any of the books (other than the first three chapters of Genesis, Psalms, and Proverbs) before Jesus matter? BECAUSE JESUS READ THEM!
When Paul wrote, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness,” he was talking about our Old Testament. Yes, the New Testament is God-breathed and Holy Spirit-inspired as well, but the Old Testament is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training” as well. I feel like so often we see the Old Testament as scary or irrelevant or we tell ourselves that we’re not smart enough to understand what is going on.
The Bible is a rich gift from God. It is how we know Him. It is in large part how He teaches us. He is writing us into that 66-book story, not just the last 27 books.
So here is my encouragement: get into it! Soak it up.
Jesus studied the “Old Testament”, why don’t we? Let’s get away from the belief that it isn’t relevant anymore. If you’re unsure of how to attack it or where to start or how to dissect it, ask for help. Read commentaries. Remember: this is God’s gift to us!
Isaiah 40:8 says that “The word of our God endures forever!” I imagine that we’ll be learning from God and His Word for all of eternity. I also imagine that it won’t just be the New Testament.