Friday, April 3, 2009

Nothing New

In reading through the Bible, I am almost done with the Old Testament. The stories I have read over the past several months have served as a reminder of how everything changes, but everything stays the same. God does miraculous things, people do stupid things, rulers abuse their power, and prophets tell the people to turn back to God.

At times while reading the Old Testament, I couldn't wait to get to the New Testament. So many of the stories in the Old Testament are violent and hard to understand, I was eager to go back to the familiar.

But now that I am almost there, I am nervous about what will happen when I read the New Testament. Will it all just be too weird and make me reject Christianity as a whole? Or will this be the reading that makes me go all Jesus-y and give all my possessions to the poor? Or worse, will I stay exactly the same?

These thoughts were going through my head a few days ago as I read a few chapters in Zechariah. Then I read this:
Well, the message hasn't changed. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said then and says now:

"Treat one another justly.
Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other.
Don't take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor.
Don't plot and scheme against one another—that's evil." (Zechariah 7:9-10).
It's true, God says the same things over and over. And we need to hear them every time.

I know the New Testament well enough to know that these lessons will come up again. I don't know what my response to the New Testament will be this time, but I am ready to start reading and see where it leads me.


  1. That's the best way to approach it. Keep telling us all what you find!

  2. Wow, good for you to get through the Old Testament like that. I'm doing the One Year Bible plan where each day's reading dips into four sections. I don't know if I would have had the fortitude to get through some of the more technical parts of the Old Testament every day if I didn't have the relatively fast-paced Jesus plot line.

    But yes, the core of the story doesn't really change. And I would say it still hasn't changed.

  3. Something we did at Plainfield Friends a few years ago was "The Bible in 90 Days." We had 25 people who managed to read the whole Bible in 90 days. And most of them indicated they really enjoyed it.

  4. I suppose what you find in the Bible has much to do with the context in which you read it. In other words, I guess it all depends on what you are seeking. My reactions to and understanding of the message and/or meaning of the text continues to change and develop over time as I learn about the context and history of the text itself. I find that my relationship to the text is therefore never exactly the same twice.

  5. Thanks for the post. What I find true is that each time I read the Bible I find something new there, a "new" me. As I continue to grow (older) in my understanding and recognition of the Spirit, I find more experiences and memories that converge to a further growth in the WORD and the scriptures.

  6. needs you!

    I joined a few years ago, lost the former members of the blog, and have been barely dragging out an occasional post.

    But a lot of the value of the Bible is in open-mind study (like you've been doing) with a group. Torah study at a good synagogue in Philadelphia (and the New Testament classes at Pendle Hill when I was there) got me a strong appetite for it, which I'm having a hard time satisfying hereabouts.

    Not to worry about what is to be revealed about Christianity. I was thinking about Job, how he says "I know that my redeemer lives," some long time before Jesus. And it came to me that redeeming is, for human beings, God's primary activity. In OT times, it meant redemption from slavery, literal (as in the Exodus story) or in a more general sense. What we experience in life, whether or not we love it at the time, is God at work in the (not always straightforward) process of redeeming us from slavery...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.