I only recently began reading the Old Testament in its entirety. It isn’t easy for me to read. It’s written in a story-telling style that is foreign, and the names and places are hard to pronounce and often unfamiliar. There is much genealogy. For decades I had believed it had nothing to say to me. I believed the New Testament could stand on its own. What a blunder.
The Old Testament has survived thousands of years for a reason. It is divinely inspired: It is the story of God and humanity’s earliest relationship to Him. It is a factual, historical account of God’s people — along with prophecies of things to happen. Many prophecies have already happened; some have yet to occur. It is a written truth; a truth that weaves in and out of the fabric that binds our modern times to the ancient past. Only when read together with the New Testament do we have a complete and more meaningful understanding of God. Without learning about God by reading the Bible, it is like having a relationship with the “love of your life” without showing interest in their past or fully knowing who they are.
Although God’s relationship with humanity evolves from the Old Testament through the New Testament, God does not change. People’s perception of God does. God’s directives do as well. But God remains constant, including His love for humanity, His generosity, and His compassion. It’s the greatest love story ever written; a love story involving a Heavenly Father’s love for wayward children and His passionate desire that we will find our way home.
Originally a love story between God and the Jewish people, through Jesus, God extended an invitation to all who seek to believe in God and who choose to have a meaningful relationship with Him. But knowledge of God is required to have a meaningful relationship. Not simply the knowledge that “there is a higher power,” but the knowledge that there is only one God — and who He is. Without it we cannot find our way to Him for we don’t know how to recognize Him or what to believe: “My people are destroyed because they don’t know me… .” (Hosea 4:6)
I used to think that knowledge was to be found primarily in universities and in the great writings of ancient and modern scholars. There is much to be learned from the intellectual leaders of our times, but human knowledge is at best a reflection of the divinely-inspired knowledge that can be found in the Old and New Testaments, when read together. The pages of the Bible are a symphony of eternal truth, at times both tragic and triumphant depending on our exercise of free will. A symphony that is still being written within the general outline prophesied thousands of years ago.
As my faith and love of God has grown, so has my desire to read the Bible. Or perhaps it was the other way around.