What is the Old Testament about? part 2

19 Dec

We are looking at the Old Testament.

What is the Old Testament about?

Obviously you know the Bible is divided into two parts.

The Old and New Testament. 

It wasn’t always called that, by the way, the Old and New Testament. Those were names given to them, I think, around the third century a.d. and some of what we are talking, will help you understand why. 

But. 

One reason understanding the Old Testament is so important is because you won’t understand the New Testament if you don’t. So much of the New Testament is hard to understand, apart from the Old Testament.

Even.

Seemingly simple things. 

Like. 

John the Baptist’s statement, “Behold the Lamb of God” seems pretty strange unless you know something about the Old Testament.

A simple way, to start understanding the Old Testament is by seeing, the Old Testament is telling a story. 

It is not a random collection of materials. You remember. It is not a book of disconnected sayings. It’s telling a story about what God’s doing in this world. 

And.

If you wanted to summarize the main theme of that story, you might say, it’s a story about, the Kingdom of God. 

The reason for the story is the glory of God. 

The hero of the story is the Son of God. 

And the subject of the story.

Is the kingdom of God. 4

Which.

Could be really helpful as you read it.

When you are confused about some of the details, you can go back, and say, ok, but I know what the story is about, and how does this maybe fit into that.  

Knowing what the story is about could be really helpful.

So long.

As you know what the Kingdom of God is. 

Obviously.

And because there are lots of different ideas about what the kingdom of God is, in the previous post, we went all the way back. 

To the very first place.

We get a picture. 

In the Bible.

Of the kingdom of God.

And that’s on the, very first two pages. 

You might remember. 

We said. 

If we wanted to be very broad.

We could define kingdom of God, as God’s rule, and we see that in the opening chapter of the Bible, as God’s making this world, He’s clearly, the One in charge. And yet, we can be more specific, and need to, because most of the Bible, is concerned with, a more specific facet, of God’s kingdom.  

The Bible tells us God is in charge of everything.

Obviously. 

But it doesn’t just tell us God is in charge of everything.It tells us that He is using His power and wisdom to accomplish something specific.

Which is pictured.

In the Garden of Eden. 

The Garden of Eden is like a prototype.

A blueprint of God’s plan for this world.

If someone says, what was God making this world to be, you could say, we get a small picture of what He was making this world to be in the Garden of Eden. 

Because. 

After watching God make everything in the first chapter, the second chapter of Genesis, begins. 

You remember. 

With God resting on the seventh day. 

And God resting seems strange, because a God who makes the universe doesn’t get tired. And yet, that is an important beginning to this chapter, because it helps us understand where God was going with creation. 

He made the world.

He created man. 

He gave a man a job. 

He declared it all, very good. 

And then He rested.

In other words, He enjoyed, and that’s not just a side note to the story, that’s pointing toward the goal of all this creating God’s doing, this is was God’s intention for creation, it was supposed to be so enjoyable, and what does that enjoyment look like?

I think.

We see.

What it was supposed to look in the Garden of Eden. 

God intended the world. 

To become His special dwelling place.

Where we would experience His special presence and serve Him, by exercising authority and rule, on His behalf. 

And.

One cool way to see that. 

Actually. 

Is.

By.

Contrasting, the beginning of the Bible’s story, with the ending. 

A good way to test, if we are right. 

About the story. 

Is by looking at.

How the story ends. 

And. 

I wonder if you’ve noticed. 

As you’ve done so. 

The parallel between the beginning of the Bible and the ending. 

Because. 

In the beginning.

Genesis 1 and 2. 

You have.

God creating the heavens and the earth. 

And you have.

God saying, let there be light.

And you have God giving man the responsibility to rule. 

And you have man experiencing God’s special presence in this garden with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And the tree of life. 

And.

In the end.

You have, a new heavens and a new earth. 

 And you have, God’s light. 

John says, “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” 

And you have God, enabling man to rule. 

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom authority was committed.”

And ultimately.

Revelation 22:5.

“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light and they will reign forever and ever.”

And you have this city, that’s like a garden.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, through the middle of the street of the city, also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month.”

And, I am saying, the beginning and the end of the Bible, come together to give us a pretty clear idea of what God’s plan for the world is. 

Here’s the plan. 

God’s establishing a kingdom.

Where.

Man rules over the earth as His representative.  

And.

Enjoys His presence. 

And blessing as a result. 

 I mean. 

We see that.

At the end of the story. 

And, we see it, way back at the beginning. On the very first couple, pages. We know where this is headed.  God gives us a glimpse, in the Garden. 

Where.

God and man.

Have a perfect relationship. 

Where man and woman.

Have a perfect relationship. 

And where man and the world.

Have a perfect relationship. 

Which of course, isn’t how it is is any longer.

And. 

Again. 

We saw after giving us a picture of the kingdom, God identifies the problem. 

And.

It’s a big one.  

Because. 

In spite of God’s amazing kindness, man turned his back on God, and you can read the story in Genesis 3, and you’ll see, man’s, act of rebellion, had devastating consequences.

Which is pictured in some graphic ways in the story. 

If you look at it. 

As the man and woman. 

Hide from God. 

Genesis 3:8. 

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

And they are hiding, because they are afraid. 

They say. 

“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked and I hid myself.”

And that’s there to say to us. 

Their relationship with God is broken. 

Obviously. 

And so is their relationship with one another. 

And eventually, they are cast out of the Garden. 

Sent into exile. 

In fact. 

One of the saddest lines, in all the Bible has to be, Genesis 2:24, where Moses says.

“God drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and the flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”

And so it’s kind of like. 

The Old Testament.

Opens with a question. 

The question. 

Because. 

Obviously, God’s plan for this world was amazing, but, it doesn’t take man very long, to completely rebel against, that plan, and be judged for it, and so we are asking, as we look at what man’s done, if there’s any way to fix it?

Is the kingdom gone?

Is it over?

Because. 

It might feel that way. 

And. 

Really. 

The next few chapters of Genesis make it clear, man by himself, is not going to be able to fix what he broke, because everything, just gets worse and worse. 

After being cast out of the Garden. 

It’s murder in Genesis 4.

It’s death and judgment in Genesis 5. 

It’s every intention of man’s heart, being only evil continually, by the time we get to chapter 6. 

In fact. 

It’s like we are seeing the opposite of the kingdom. The anti-kingdom, being established. And yet, at the same time, we have hope, because you remember, God made a promise.  

At the very beginning of the Bible.

Genesis 3:15. 

One of the most important verses.

In the Bible. 

In the middle of executing judgment, God preaches the first gospel message. 

As he’s. 

Speaking to the snake. 

And ultimately to Satan. 

He says. 

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.”

And enmity means.

There’s a battle that’s going to go on, between godly people and Satan and his followers, God will put enmity, it’s not just going to be Satan and his followers.

This is a promise.

There are going to be a group of people whom God raises up, who are going to be godly, and who will be engaged in a battle against Satan, and that battle is going to rage on and on, until eventually God says, one of Eve’s descendants, will rise, and defeat Satan.

Through suffering and conflict. 

“He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

And from that point on. 

What do you think godly people were doing?

They were looking for that descendant of Eve to come, and they were trying to figure out how, God was going to use one of Eve’s descendants to overcome Satan, and they were trying to figure out exactly who that descendant was going to be.

I think we might see that in what Eve says at the end of Genesis 4. 

For example. 

She bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring, seed, instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.”

And I think we see. 

That.

In Genesis 5. 

When Lamech fathered a son named Noah. 

He says. 

“Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.”

And.

He’s hoping. 

And.

Godly people have always been hoping, for the descendant of Eve, to come, who would defeat Satan, and they have been wanting to know how He was going to come and what He was going to do and part of the purpose of the rest of the Old Testament, actually.

Is to help you understand exactly who to look for.

And how God’s going to keep the promise He made in Genesis chapter 3 through Him.

And one major way He reveals that, is through something we call covenants. 

Now.

We are getting to it. 

And.

I think, this is cool. 

Because. 

This is a little Bible study. 

And. 

We are working here. 

I know. 

But.

I want us to all understand our Bibles, and, how the Bible works.

And. 

While. 

The kingdom of God is the theme, right?

And. 

While, we kind of got to know a little of what that is in Genesis 1 and 2, why it isn’t like that right now, in Genesis 3, and why’d, we have hope, that God’s going to fix it, in Genesis 3:15.  

There’s. 

A lot. 

We don’t know.

At this point. 

In our Bibles. 

In terms. 

Of. 

Who. 

Exactly. 

And. 

How. 

I mean. 

We know.

One thing about the who. 

It’s going to a descendant of Eve, but that’s pretty broad. 

And we know one thing about the how, it’s going to involve, him crushing the head of the snake as the snake bites his heel, so we know there’s some sort of final victory, through suffering, and conflict.

Which is a lot actually, to know, considering this is just the first three pages of the Bible, we are talking about.

But at the same time, it’s still pretty general. 

If you think about it. 

Which is why.

The rest of the Old Testament slowly but surely reveals, a little more, a little more, and a little more, about how God’s going to accomplish this victory, and one big way, it reveals that, is through these things, we call.

Covenants. 

In fact. 

I once heard someone say the story of the Bible is a story of Kingdom, through covenants. 

Covenant.  

Is a big word. 

In the Bible. 

And. 

Yet it’s also kind of unfamiliar, and so in order to help you understand the story the Old Testament tells, in the next several posts, I want to walk through some of these covenants, and their significance for understanding how God’s going about saving the universe.

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