It is what it is: On reading the Old Testament

IMG_4666I’m trying to read through the Bible in a year this year. Not so I can check it off my “good little Christian” list (mainly because I already earned that gold star in high school, thankyouverymuch), but because I need the Bible. I need to be reading and thinking about the people of God and the mind of God and all of the millions of stories and words that make up a magnificent history and point to a magnificent promise.

So far, I’ve managed to keep up with my reading (17 days baby!!) but that’s largely because I have a friend who holds me accountable and a husband who is good at doing everything that requires discipline so, I can’t tolerate his blasted commitment to reading the Bible while slacking on my own. It kills me when he wins. And he usually does at stuff like this. Not that this is about winning.

What I like the most about these Bible plans is that it gets me in the Old Testament. The good ol’ OT. I admire the Old Testament but I don’t really go there on purpose very often.

I want to share with you my two favorite things about the Old Testament that I’ve seen so far. Granted, I’m only in Genesis so this list may get larger. Stay tuned.

1. Naming all the things – Beginning with Adam in the garden who had the task of naming all the animals, (“Warthog, Tiger, Squid… can I go on my lunch break now?… Chipmunk…” etc), the Old Testament is ripe with people naming other people and significant places and things. ALL THE TIME.

Example: Isaac and his groupies had some conflict with some other people over some wells. So Isaac called the well “Esesk” which means… are you ready for this? contention. ZING! Fast forward a few chapters, Jacob and Laban are having a bit of a spat and decide to make a truce, essentially. (Do not use this as a commentary on Genesis, by the way, this is like the mother of all terrible paraphrases.) Long story short Jacob piles up a heap of stones, him and Laban eat by the heap of stones, in the presence of others, thereby sealing their covenant to never again harm the other. Who wants to guess what they called that? Anybody? The obvious answer is, “Jegar-sahadutha.” Duh. Meaning? – the heap of witness.

The Old Testament gives whole new meaning to the phrase “It is what it is.” Because in the OT? Seriously. It is what it is. Every time.

I’ve decided I like this theme in the Old Testament and will begin to adopt it in my own life. Next time there is unfolded laundry on the bed, “Behold! It shall be called Heap of laundry and it shall stand in testament to my disinterest in household chores.” The possibilities are endless. I didn’t even touch on the names people chose because that’s a whole ‘nother post. Suffice it to say, they were just as creative when it comes to naming their kids.

2. More Drama than your mama can handle. – HBO has NOTHING on the Old Testament, y’all. Incest? Check. Deception? Check. Murdering massive amounts of men after having them all circumcised? CHECK. Manipulation? Check. Sex? Check. A million times, check. Cat fights? Check.  Jerry Springer would have a field day with these characters. Sometimes I re-read parts of stories because I can’t even believe it. What’s even more unbelievable is that God chose to establish his covenant with these same people. And as they all scramble to make bigger fools of themselves, God is so graciously faithful to them.

I know many people have problems with actions God takes in the OT and I understand those problems. Many Christians have the same reaction and it’s hard to discern His purposes in the midst of violence and upheaval. Yet I can’t stop thinking about how God protects and preserves His whiny, bitter, ungrateful people to bring about His plan to reconcile Mankind with Himself. I’ve got lots of questions too when I read the OT. The one bouncing in my brain lately is, “Why in the world did you stick with these guys?” Which basically translates into “Why do you stick with me?”

I can’t really fully answer that question but I am immeasurably grateful that He does. I guess the grace of God, with all of it’s mysteries, can be summed up in one way: It is what it is.

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