The Acts of God, Repeated

I think it was called Encounter, a 4 inch tall devotional magazine for teens. It has a short passage of Scripture to read everyday and a small devotional thought written by someone in the SBC.

This is how I read the Bible growing up. Today I don’t recommend that people read the Bible this way.

  • It chops up the Bible too much
  • Which makes it hard to see the overall story
  • Which makes it hard to stay away from moralism
  • Which is not good, precious.

Today I would encourage people to read consecutively. Read through books of the Bible. Read through sections of books, read through a Testament. Read Both Testaments together. Just don’t chop it up.

One good reason?

Let me quote from Francis Foulkes:

…we find in the Old Testament the hope and the conviction, not only that the past acts of God will be repeated, but that in the future they will be repeated on a scale greater and more wonderful than that of the past.

Foulkes was lecturing on the nature of God’s Acts in the Old Testament, setting up an argument for the use of typology for interpretation. (those of you that I just lost, just keep reading. It will be fine. I promise it won’t hurt too much.)

Just read his quote again:

Not only that the past acts of God will be repeated.

God has acted similarly in every generation. For example:

  • He rescued Adam and Eve from certain death because God himself provided a sacrifice to cover their sin.
  • He rescued Noah and his family, from certain death by providing both a safe haven and a sacrifice of the wicked people of the earth.
  • He rescued Isaac from certain death because God himself provided a sacrifice fit to take Isaac’s place.
  • He rescued Israel from bondage to Egypt as he himself provided the blood sacrifice through the lives of the Egyptians.
  • He rescued Israel from sure destruction, as God by his anointed king, takes the head of Goliath, the enemy of God’s people.
  • He rescued Hezekiah and Israel as God himself offers a blood sacrifice of the Assyrians and sets his people free.
  • And in Christ Jesus, God rescued his people by himself, providing the perfect sacrifice for the sin of his people, so that they might be set free. While Jesus destroyed both the work of the devil and the wisdom of men.

God’s acts will be repeated. But it is that last half of that quote that is most significant.

in the future they will be repeated on a scale greater and more wonderful than that of the past.

Christ is the fulfillment of the acts of God, so to understand any act in the Old Testament I need to look through the lens of Christ, the gospel and the massive rescue God has secured for us in Christ.

So that means we should not read the Bible chopped up. But read it consecutively. I am sure that is more to that, but at least this we should do.

Reading the Old Testament

Christians, take up the Old Testament and read it.

Too many Christians fail to read the Old Testament. For some reason, they find it foreign, unusual, or even distasteful.

But what many fail to realize is that every time Jesus said something to the effect of, “it is written” he was speaking of the Old Testament.

There was one famous pastor who recently made the claim that the early Christians didn’t have a Bible. While that is true in the sense that Crossway didn’t have a market in Jerusalem selling calf-leather bound printed copies of the 66 books of the protestant Bible, his statement is complete absurd and betrays a distaste or perhaps a disrespect for the Old Testament.

Luke 24:44-49 says this:

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Here the modern Christian’s bias against the Old Testament is rebuked, outlawed, and displayed as plain silly for 3 reasons.

  1. Jesus himself used, read, trusted, depended on, and relished in the Old Testament. Here after his own death and resurrection he is concerned not with recounting the events of the Old Testament, but he focuses in on what was written in the Old Testament.
  2. Jesus is also using the Old Testament to explain recent events. His own death and resurrection needed clarification and definition. He gave those things by teaching from the Old Testament. He could have just easily said, ” This is what it means I declare.” But instead he had already declared and he was sharing that declaration with these disciples.
  3. Jesus it he center of the Old Testament. We can’t overlook the fact that Jesus says, “everything written about me.” Jesus understood that the Old Testament was valuable, but it was valuable not simply because it could explain human condition, but because it centered on the person of Christ.

Christians, take up the Old Testament and read it. Read it with a view to helping you understand what happened in Jesus’ Life, but use the New Testament to help you properly interpret the Old Testament. But please read it.