May 22nd 2010

Something To Keep In Mind

“Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.”
1 Corinthians 10:6 (NKJV)

“Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it,” so wrote the Spanish-born philosopher and poet, George Santayana, around the turn of the last century. He knew a thing or two, did professor George, who spent 40 years learning and then teaching philosophy at Harvard University in the USA. 

Of all the religious writings, the Christian Bible is a longer book than any other. Three-quarters of it is shared with the Jewish Bible (the Christian’s Old Testament). So many Christians today ignore the Old Testament as unnecessary, apart from the Book of Psalms, which they see as making it a much more manageable volume. 

This, however, has to be a mistake. It used to be said that you had to know the Old Testament to understand the New. Actually, the reverse is true—you have to know the New fully to understand the intent of the Old. 

But Paul certainly agreed with our George. There is indeed a modern-day profitable purpose for studying the Old Testament. He tells Timothy, “…and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation…” (2 Timothy 3:15). The young Timothy lived at a time when the New Testament in the main had yet to be written—or at least finalised. 

On the other hand, there is no doubt that often the Old Testament is written in indistinct and obscure terms for today’s Christian. As the writer in Hebrews puts it, speaking of Christ’s present-day High Priesthood-role through its Old Testament model: “…who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things…” (Hebrews 8:5, KJV). Very often we need to study the Old Testament, not in order now to learn what to do in physical terms—though that is how its contents read—rather, in order to learn what we are to be or become in spiritual terms. In other words, to imbibe of the Spiritual mind which equally inspired both testaments. Often we find spiritual concepts elaborated in physical examples in the Old Testament—the better for human beings to grasp the indistinct or the obscure. 

It has been said,  “The Old Testament is the Gospel in bud; the New Testament is the Gospel in full bloom.”

Most merciful Father, thank you for your Bible, Old and New Testaments. So often in our limited and, at times, prejudiced viewpoints, we can miss the vital lessons you are trying to impart to us. Help us to read and study with care, with thoughtfulness, in humility and, above all, with a willingness to listen to what we hear. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford 

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