Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reading the whole Bible: HISTORY, Joshua to Esther

Artist's rendition of the Ark of the Covenant.
Reading the Bible is difficult. We can't just delve in and read it the way we would open a novel and relax into the story. It requires prayer, an open heart to receive the message and an open mind to study it and receive wisdom from its words. If reading it is hard, I find it even more difficult to write about my experience in reading it! Context is important, and we must first learn of the circumstances and historical setting of the events in the book we are reading. So, I will just write about the people and events that I found memorable.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites (God's chosen people) have famously rebelled to God again and again. Instead of following God's will, they still followed their own wants and rebelled against God by worshiping false idols. After Moses died and Joshua replaced him as the leader, there did come a time when they have forgotten God's law and everything was in chaos. God did punish the sins of Israel.

But what I've realized in reading is that God only wants the best for his people. Sin and disobeying God leads to self-destruction, and the people have forgotten him save for a few. God had shown them miracles, but they still worshipped false idols.

Events and people I found memorable:

Joshua and capturing the city of Jericho. Joshua is a book of courage. After years of wandering, Israel is ready to enter the promised land. A book of miracles, this is where God divided a river to let them pass. They conquered the city of Jericho by marching around the walls for seven days and destroyed it with a mighty shout on the seventh day.

Kings: Saul, David, Solomon. We see Israel clamoring for their own king, and God warned them the dangers of having one. Due to popular demand, God instructed the prophet Samuel to anoint a King, Saul. We see that these kings have their own shortcomings. Saul was soon jealous of David. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and planned to have her husband killed in battle so he can have her for himself. Solomon was famous for his wisdom, but in the end he was seduced to the other gods of his many wives. Even if they were kings chosen by God, none of them were perfect.

David and Jonathan's friendship is unforgettable. Jonathan was Saul's son, but he sacrificed himself for the good of his friend and to save David's life.

Hezekiah and Josiah. These are the only Kings who remembered God and tried their best to conform their people into following God again. Even the law God sent to Moses was forgotten, if not for a priest who found the scroll (in Josiah's time) and they realized how much they have sinned and diverted from God's will.

Ruth. The book of Ruth is a good example to follow regarding love and marriage. Ruth, though a widow, decided to stay and take care of Naomi, her mother-in-law. Her faith won the admiration of Boaz, who later became her husband.

The story of Elisha and Elijah, the two prophets, is also a favorite.

I'm only writing my experience in reading the Old Testament for the first time. This is not meant to be an in-depth study. This first reading is just my first 'scan' before deeper reading. I understand that a lifetime is not enough to study the Bible, and what's more important is to do and practice what it says!

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