The excitement around our #KnowTheWord challenge has been unmistakable. Genesis is filled with some of the most memorable stories and historical characters. For many of us, these opening weeks may have felt like drinking from a fire hydrant. Hang in there!! As I read, I have begun to notice how I often place MYSELF at the center of each story. I realize the story isn’t literally about me, but I tend to place myself as the primary character looking for a specific takeaway. This works well in some passages like Adam’s sin in the garden, but it doesn’t work as well when I read about Lot after God destroyed Sodom. So how should we rightly read these passages?
George Guthrie, who developed the reading plan we use, asked Bruce Waltke to provide some principles for reading Old Testament stories. I think they’ll help us all:
God is the Main Hero of the Old Testament stories
As we’re tempted to celebrate the accomplishments of Abraham or Noah, we cannot forget that their stories are part of one larger story orchestrated by God pointing us ultimately toward Jesus. It’s all about Him.
The Old Testament Stories Parallel Our lives
It’s not about us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t identify with the tension and struggles of characters. Abraham struggled to trust God at times, and so do we. Don’t completely detach yourself from the story, rather find the parallels and learn from the characters.
Old Testament Stories Reinforce the Covenant
The Old Testament progresses through covenants (divine agreements) God establishes with individuals and with the nation of Israel. When we read, we must take note of the terms of each covenant and discern how rightly or wrongly the characters live their lives in light of the present covenant(s).
Old Testament Stories Were Written as Art
The biblical authors were masters of their craft. Much like modern movie directors, the authors structure their writings in specific ways so as to lead readers on a journey and effectively communicate their desired message. As you read, take time to appreciate how the Holy Spirit used these writers and their talents to perfectly articulate the story of redemption in the Bible.