“Men simple in wit can be well built up to heavenly living by the reading and knowing of the old testament.
For in the beginning of Genesis they can know, how God made heaven and earth and all creatures out of nothing, and made man to his own image and likeness, and to have bliss in body and soul without end.” From Chapter 3 of Wycliffe’s prologue to the bible.
In the Sunday morning services at TRINITY we have been studying the book of Revelation. One thing that has been plainly obvious is that it is a book that is impossible to understand without a thorough grasp and knowledge of the Old Testament. In fact, one Old Testament scholar, JA Motyer would start his lectures by telling us to open our bibles and tear out the separating pages between the Old and New Testaments. There are 933 quotes and allusions to the Old Testament within the New Testament.
Many people’s idea of the God of the Old Testament is as a vengeful God of hell fire and the God of the New Testament as the gentle Jesus full of love, this just proves they have never really read or understood the bible at all. If you do a bible search for “hell fire” you only get three hits; all in the gospels, from the mouth of Jesus. As Christians we aspire to love and grow more like Jesus as we live our Christian lives. So how do get to know love and understand Yahweh (Jehovah), the great I am of the old testament. As always Jesus is a good starting point. Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the father. John 14:9
In the Old Testament, we see the Fathers heart in the tender love that Yahweh has for the people that He has called, even when they are continually sinning and turning away to other gods. He sends His prophets to call them back, only if they refuse to repent, and turn back to Him are they finally sent into exile so they can learn that total love and dependence on Him is the only way to live. This is particularly seen in books like Hosea: Hosea 2 and Isaiah: Isaiah 40.
So how do we get into the enormous body of writings of the Bible? One good place to start is the Daily bible Readings that we are following as a community at TRINITY. They also have a section where you can read through the bible in a year, reading two chapters on the old testament and one of the new. This is a tremendous way of getting a feel for the whole bible and how the books relate to each other.
At New wine this year I discovered a new way, that is using Bible hub. This is a tremendous resource, for instance, look up Micah 6:8 click on Interlinear and you find some key old testament words “hesed” (meaning: covenant love, mercy and kindness) and “Mishpat” (meaning justice and right standing before God), click on the words and you get a concordance with a link to every other occurrence of these words.
Remember that when Paul said that all scripture is inspired by God 2 Timothy 3:16 he was talking about his bible!