Hi there to all my friends,
I have already learned so much in the past four weeks. The bible is a collection of 66 books, written by a variety of authors over a period of about 2000 years. It is probably the biggest best-seller in literary history and is widely regarded as the 'inspired Word of God'. Sadly, however, it is often relegated to bookshelves instead of being used as a manual for life. As I study this incredible book, it's as if God is slowly revealing Himself to me. His story is not anything I ever imagined...it is simply profound. I would encourage anyone to take the time to study the Scriptures - you will embark on an incredible journey, this I promise you!
The text that follows is my personal 'summary' of what I have learned in the past month. It is, by no means, fully-inclusive. Please understand, that this is a novice's point-of-view. I am a child of God and am sharing my journey here, in the hope that it may inspire others to read the Bible fully and commit themselves to the abundant life that Christ offers.
---xXx---At this point, I have only dealt with the following books:
GENESIS, EXODUS, LEVITICUS, NUMBERS, DEUTERONOMY, JOSHUA:
This is what I have learned...
God's creation was utterly magnificent. His Spirit 'fluttering' over the waters and the presence of the Trinity in those early moments of our precious creation is revealing.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning"
Out of this "Divine dance" came our beautiful planet, our animals, our environment and the hope of a lasting relationship between God and Man.
I am immensely moved by God's creation and often think back to my childhood and life on the farm.
Man's inadequacy to live alone and his sinful state is reflected in the first chapters of Genesis - as he comes face-to-face with his own sin. We read how Cane kills Abel...etc...etc.
Then we come across the story of God's intervention in this rapidly deteriorating world. We see God's preparation of Noah, his family and all the animals before the big flood. The Rainbow, ironically was the story's silver lining - a promise for us all to hold on to; both man and animals.
Then follows the story of the incredible faith of one man - Abram (later 'Abraham') - who was called from his home into an unfamiliar land to follow God, by faith. God gave him the promise that he would become the father of many nations...and he did. (Somewhere along the line, I think I am part of this heritage.)
In the generations that follow, we see a distinct chasm forming between those human beings who are obedient to God and those who are not. The consequences of sin and God's wrath on those who do not follow his ways is frightening (Sodom and Gomorrah). It is within this era that God allowed a particular tribe to grow. He shaped them, moulded them and referred to them as His chosen people.
In the 500 years that follow, sin and faith live side-by-side. Both are strengthened simultaneously as God 'hardens the hearts' of the Egyptians and the Canaanites. But, out of this all, Moses rises up to take his God-ordained leadership. His preparation for this important task is amazing. He is schooled in Pharoah's court to become both literate and also a military strategist, but he is also humbled by his 40 years as a shepherd in the region of Mt Sinai. He is shaped and moulded to lead God's people out of Egypt. The Lord intervenes and supports this mammoth task in a BIG, merciful way. Miracles abound: The parting of the Red sea, manna, quails, food, water - for the 600 000 people who follow Moses into the desert.
And then follows the commandments from God to introduce basic religious rituals into the gathered people in order for them to remember who their God is and what He has done: the Passover, the festival of unleavened bread, the festival of weeks, etc, etc. Moses leads the people to the foot of Mt Sinai (with the help of his brother Aaron). A brand new Jewish calendar is also introduced. In the culture of the time. This group of people definitely stands out as 'different' - like a sore thumb amongst the pagan people of the times.
It is here, in this setting , that Moses receives the 10 commandments and the instructions on how to worship and sacrifice. God, too, reveals that He wants to live with his people and makes a way by giving instructions for the building of His Tabernacle.
The tribe of Levi (Levites) are appointed as God's ordained priesthood to look after His earthly dwelling place.
It is here that we notice God's plan start to take shape as He prepares a 'set apart' people to become his Holy nation. Everything is planned out in minute detail. Instructions for sacrifice, atonement and day-to-day living are prescribed by God. (In my humble opinion, this was an almost impossible task for the people - ie to make atonement for their sins and make themselves 'right' with God. Disobedience was dealt with harshly - often in death. Blood sacrifices were called for...and the poor animals took on all the people's 'sin'. Scapegoats abounded!)
I really battled with this section of the bible - Leviticus - particularly because of my fondness for animals. It is a book of blood and gore; God's wrath and judgement is evident. The tension of trying to fulfil God's immaculate standards of living within a fallen world is extreme. Desert living (Wilderness) was harsh and unforgiving too. People had to rely totally on God's grace and provision. I, personally, would not have survived. My own death - either from sin or other - would have been imminent.
In Numbers and Deuteronomy, God eventually leads his people to the Promised land although it takes a further 40 years. Sadly, the Israelite's lack of trust in God necessitated that they spent a lot longer in the desert before entering their much awaited 'Promised land', Even Moses and Aaron weren't immune to God's judgement. Only two individuals from that generation survived - Joshua and Caleb.
Joshua took on the anointed leadership of the Israelites into Canaan. It was a period of battles and shedding of blood as the Israelites overthrew the various "Wicked" kingdoms in the land. They eventually did occupy their "Promised" land, but they failed in one thing - the total annihilation of sin. (This is almost an echo of Noah's time)
Even at this stage, It is obvious that sin is here to stay and there is a clear need for salvation and a brand new covenant. How wonderful it is to be privy to this story...in retrospect.
"Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy"
(Leviticus 19:2 NIV)