Reading the Bible in a Year chronologically continues! I have kept up with the reading although I haven’t spent as much time over here reflecting on it (I’m going to write some reflections based on my Bible journaling pages I think!). The first five books are known as the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and we’ve done all of those now! Charting God’s people and their walks with God through many things.
I’m familiar enough with the beginning of God’s people and those stories from the Old Testament as Adam and Eve (and all of Israel) turn from living life God’s way, turn from his love and abundant blessing to doing things their way- over and over again. The characters who are famous on the Old Testament, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph – so many people who were flawed and tried their best to walk in God’s plans for their lives but often fell down and had to return to God in humility.
Despite their imperfections God uses them all, uses his chosen people and uses us. He directs their path, goes before them and puts people and situations before them that are for His good plan. Through all the things that happen through Genesis and Exodus, we learn that God is almighty- he is faithful, he is perfect, he is jealous when his people turn his back on Him and start worshipping idols and forgetting the amazing things he has done for them, rescuing them from Egypt, moving the Red Sea, providing food where there was none, protecting them from their enemies, giving them a new land.
When they turn from him, they suffer the consequences (things do not go well for them, they lack the abundance and life and love that a relationship with God gives us). But God remains faithful to them. He doesn’t forget Israel when they forget him. He lets them wander their own way when they choose to – but then they realise and come back and he is always there to welcome them with open arms. Just like the prodigal son and the father waiting – God is that same Father through all Israel’s wandering off.
I love that God has plans for his people. And he has plans for us. I love that he his people who are afraid and weak and not the most amazing on their own- because it’s only through Him that they can do the amazing things. I’m so glad that he goes before us and can see things we can’t. I love that he uses flawed people and that he forgives and relents and loves us, all of us who forget and turn our own way day by day. God leads the way- we just need to be looking for him, looking at Him. He walks with us through deep waters and wants to be with us, for us to know and love him more than anything.
And as for all the laws and details and ways that Israel could try to work their way back out of the messes they made- I am so glad that Jesus made a final, ultimate sacrifice so we don’t have to make any more sacrifices- the final atonement so that we don’t have to pick through laws that highlight all our failings. God is holy, he is pure and wonderful and he loves us enough to make us the same, so that despite our turning from his love we can be with him. We can talk to him, pour out to him, follow him, confess to him, sit with him and ask him to show us what is next.
Following the story of his steadfast love towards his people, his continued strength and power given to people who feel incapable and seeing both his justice and mercy is such a gift. I love that we can get to know the history of all that happened to the Israelites before Jesus, and see exactly why we need him, exactly how fallible we are, turning away from him again and again often in the most ridiculous and silly ways. We fail to trust him even though we have seen him doing incredible things in our lives (like the parting of the Red Sea). We worry about him providing for us even though he has always done so and always will. We see shiny golden objects, make things to make our lives fun and interesting and forget who created the whole world, out of love for little old us. Whilst sometimes reading the Old Testament can seem hard work and each sentance doesn’t always thrill, it’s the historical narrative that shaped the identity of God’s people, and we can learn so much from the way they interact with God and him with them.
I am so thankful that he stuck with them and with us despite the fact we always want to go our own way and our sinfulness takes over often. I’m so thankful for his grace and mercy and for his ultimate rescue in Jesus, freeing us from the need to try to work our way into a good place, any need to follow rules or ‘be good’ to earn our way into his favour. He gives us his love and grace and eternal life freely, loving us because as he sees us he sees the holiness of Jesus, covering anything we have ever done to get in the way. He gave us Jesus so that we could live with him as we were meant to and shed the shame and guilt and just love him for all He has done.