The Bible for Grown-Ups

Day 4 of 5 • This day’s reading

Devotional

PRAYER:


Pray that God will help you to have an open mind and an open heart as you explore the story of the Bible. Ask him to help you to grow in knowledge and love of His word.


READING:


The Old Testament


We already know that when the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people, became enamored with a particular Jew, Jesus, they immediately became enamored with the sacred text of the Jews, the Hebrew Bible, which they called the Law and the Prophets. However, the first- and second-century Gentile Christians did not embrace the Hebrew Bible as Jewish Scripture. They embraced the texts as Christian Scripture because while Gentiles were interested in the Jewish Scripture, they were not interested in the Jewish religion, history, and culture. Let’s explore why.


First, the Jewish temple had been destroyed and the Jewish people, leaders, priests, rabbis, and scholars were all trying to figure out how to practice their religion with no temple. Second, Judaism and the Jewish leaders periodically would side with Rome against Christians. There was a conflict between Christians who were using the Jewish Scriptures and the Jews who were claiming that those were not their Scriptures because they didn’t want to ruin their relationship with the Empire. Third, the Gentiles didn’t want to be Jewish and abide by their numerous laws and customs. Additionally, the Jewish communities were very exclusive and they wanted to obey the Hebrew Bible laws. It was difficult for them to be good Jews and mix with Gentiles. As a result, the church (the Christians) embraced the Hebrew Bible, the Law and the Prophets, as the Old Testament but didn’t embrace the Jewish religion, history, and culture. 


By the second century, the Gospels had been written and were circulating, and the Gentile church, which still did not have a Bible of its own, quickly adopted the Jewish texts as Christian Scripture and began using it in Christian worship. Eventually, they gave it a new name—the Old Covenant. Later, the Latin term “testament” would be used. And why “old?” Because Gentile Christians recognized that God, through Christ, had done something new. God had fulfilled his Old Covenant promises to his nation and to his people and had established a new covenant with the nation of Israel and with all the nations of the world, a covenant that Jesus would say would be instituted and inaugurated in his blood. 


But at this point in history, there’s still no Bible. Just Hebrew text, some stories of the accounts of the life of Jesus, and some correspondence by a very famous church planter named Paul to his Gentile congregations around the Mediterranean Rim.


In summary, the story of the Old Testament, or the story of the Jewish people, is not a spiritual guidebook. It’s the story of God preparing the world for his Messiah, for your Savior. The Old Testament chronicles God’s redemptive sequential activity to bring redemption to the world.


REFLECTION:


Isaiah was a prophet that predicted (with remarkable accuracy) details about Christ that would be fulfilled about 600 years later. Read Isaiah 53 and see if you can find Jesus in this Old Testament text.