Long before Christianity was defined as a religion, like Buddhism or Hinduism, it was simply a group of people who gave up the way their old religion told them to behave and do and think, and they started following a God who was man, Jesus, who opened the doors and raised the rafters on what religion does to a heart, and caused ordinary people to leave their old ways behind and follow His way of living life.
The history of Christianity has some really high points and some really low points. There are some things that make us followers of Christ cringe to know what was done for the sake of Christianity, and then there are other things that have happened throughout history which make one honored to be called a follower of Christ.
One of the many things which humbles me to know is that Christianity started among Jewish people. I won't get into those differences here, but for the followers of Christ who aren't Jewish, who don't have Jewish ancestry in our blood, who are what the Bible calls Gentiles, it's pretty amazing to me that God has included us in his story.
What does all this mean? Well, to me it means that the God of the Torah, the Old Testament, the Psalm writers, the Kings, the prophets, this God is now my God. It means to me as I read the Old Testament that if God spoke comfort to His ancient people then, because I am His child now, the words of the Old Testament speak comfort to me.
I'm not simply a New Testament Christian with no need for the words of the Old Testament. I am a follower of Christ who now has the full story - both the back story and the finished work - to take into consideration as I come to know Christ and His relevance for my life.
Christ fulfilled the law of the Old Testament and left us free, including, and not limiting to or excluding of, the Jewish people. AND the character of God and His love for all people, not simply the Jewish line, is described and painted in brilliant colors all across the Old Testament. The New Testament simply washes out the dividing lines Christ erased and fulfilled by living a perfect life no one on earth can live and dying the death the Hebrews or us Gentiles could never give.
It's fascinating really, simply fascinating.
Have you read the Old Testament? Do you realize what Christ put an end to?
Once He died, once He was the ultimate sacrifice, there were no more sacrifices necessary. The Jewish people, history records this, had to sacrifice animals and birds to make peace with God. Not only did they have to do their own sacrificing, but they had to do it multiple times over and over each time they broke a command of God.
We don't have to do that anymore. The Jewish people don't have to do that anymore, because Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice.
So, you say "the Old Testament is so hard to understand, so hard to grasp." Well, then you haven't read it with fresh eyes lately. Open it up. Right now, get your Bible or open up your App or open up your browser and type in the book of Joshua. Start reading it. Go ahead, I'll wait.
If you want to try something in smaller bites open up the book of Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. (now there's a good book for today's trying times.)
Want an adventure story with wars and sex and heroes and villains? Start reading the books of Samuel and the Kings and Chronicles.
Want a woman's liberation story? Read Esther.
You see, if you don't know about any of those types of stories then you really haven't bitten into the Old Testament. And if you haven't taken a bite of the Old Testament then you really haven't fully come to understand all that Christ has done for you. You can read the New Testament version of the story and believe it, but long before He became a man and lived on this planet, He was a warrior and a king and a gentle breeze and sea and river divider.
His story didn't just start on December 25th. His story started long before any of us and our descendent's descendant's descendants ever walked the earth.
You want scandal and revenge and resurrection? Turn off your TV and open up the Old Testament! There's your show.
God isn't who you've been told He is. He's more! Even to the believer He's more than we can ever imagine Him to be.
And if you read the Old Testament and think as you read, "this God is the God who ended up dying for me," your world and your view of Him in it, is going to be changed radically.
Open it up, do you have Joshua opened? As you read it, tell yourself this: This God who is speaking to Joshua is the same God who is speaking to me as I face_______________. The circumstances may be a lot different, but it's the same God.
Do the same when you read Esther, or Ecclesiastes or Samuel. This God, this OLD Testament God, is my God. He went by Jesus when He walked the planet, but He was Yahweh through and through.
And He loves you. Yes, you!