Saturday, March 5, 2016

Neat Scripture finds.

I admit that I don't read the Old Testament as much as I should, but I have been again for awhile now and it's so cool. There are some parts that are tough to get through, like genealogy lists, but there have been some moments where I've had goosebumps reading because I was so touched or found connections to the New Testament or connections between Old Testament books that I had forgotten about.

Recently, I read Nehemiah 9, where the Israelites are confessing their sins after hearing Ezra read from the Book of the Law from Moses. In response to hearing the Word, they confessed their sins and praised God. Then there is a long list of the Israelites past history, basically summing up how many times they have turned away from God and came back.

Today I read Psalm 106, where there is another summary of the Israelites' past of rebelling from God and coming back. I love how God works, in that He had me read those two passages from very different books, so close together. I wasn't even intending to read Psalm 106, but happened to flip open to that page on my way to read what I was planning to read.

I have a love/hate relationship with reading passages like that. When I initially read about Israel's continuous rebellion (there are many times where God calls them stiff-necked), my prideful heart unfortunately shines and I think of how foolish they are and how I am better than them.

Then I am washed over with shame as I realize that I am the Israelites. They are a picture of all believers, because we are all stiff-necked, hard-hearted, rebellious, and bent on our own will sometimes. It feels shocking to read how many times that God delivered them and took care of them, yet they continue to turn away. But how many times do I do the exact same thing?

There are times in the Old Testament where if you would read the passage in isolation, without gaining the whole picture, it would seem that God was very harsh. I was surprised at some of the violent things I read, but all in all in this journey through the Old Testament, I have fallen in love all over again with how perfect God is. Yes, there were times God executed His wrath, but there were also lots of times where He displayed His love and mercy. He is the perfect summation of just and judging, merciful and loving.

Psalm 106:43-48 says, "Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin. But he took note of their distress when he heard their cry; for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented. He caused them to be pitied by all who held them captive. Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, "Amen!" Praise the Lord."

Reading these passages makes me swell with thankfulness at how faithful He is to me and how thankful I am for continued undeserved forgiveness.

(Also, today in Zechariah 11 I read about the shepherd pasturing the flock marked for slaughter, and how they got rid of him and counted his worth at 30 pieces of silver. That's the same amount that Judas sold Jesus out for. I never made that connection before- so cool!)

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