Bean Soup: Day 1
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us; so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.
Several years ago now, our little neighborhood Bible study piled in our cars and drove an hour to a nearby city. Our destination was a day-long conference led by a woman who for over forty years had been a world-impacting teacher and author of Bible studies.
The theme of the day centered around the present culture in our nation and how we, as Christians, should view it. Much of what she said I cannot call to mind without looking over the notes (that I have packed away somewhere); but one statement she made that day has imprinted itself indelibly in my mind: “The church in America will never experience revival because it is too weak. It is too weak because it does not know the Old Testament.”
Did you see that coming? I didn’t; but I have thought about her remark a lot.
Look around and let’s be honest. Beyond the “heroes of the Old Testament” Bible character stories, most people know little of the narrative in which these characters are contained. Many churches today prefer to concentrate on the promises, the “good life” that Jesus purchased for us by His death. To them, the Old Testament is yesterday’s news. It is both archaic and arcane, unhelpful in most cases, and best left to the theologians.
A theologian I am certainly not, but I have always been drawn to the Old Testament. It is not always easy to follow and, outside the timeless comfort of select Psalms, it doesn’t always jump out to meet the felt need of our immediate circumstances. It is what the apostle Paul called, “meat.” As you know, grown-ups eat meat. And even for grown-ups, meat must be thoroughly chewed.
The Old Testament is big and it is deep and sometimes there is murkiness in those depths. But it was written for us. And, as the above verse states, it was written that we might endure (chew, chew, chew)--and through that endurance, we would find encouragement and, ultimately, unfading, gospel-shaped hope.