Practical Application of the Word of God
Many people who claim to be Christians dismiss the Old Testament as physical and being null and void with the first coming of Jesus Christ and the new covenant being instituted.
To underscore this erroneous idea, they often ignore the Old Testament completely to the point of having Bibles that contain only the New Testament, the Psalms, and the Proverbs.
On the other hand, the minority of Christians who claim to believe that the Old Testament is as relevant to following Christ (recognizing that Jesus Christ is the I AM and the Lord of the Old Testament and the Covenant Maker in both testaments) as the New Testament is tend to have an “us” and “them” relationship with the two testaments.
The Old Testament applies to “them” (those carnal, rebellious physical Israelites) while the New Testament applies to “us” (we who are spiritually reborn and have the gift of God’s spirit).
So when these Christians look at the Old Testament, they embrace the idea of the laws, but they miss the other equally, if not more, important aspects of the mirror we should see ourselves in and the lessons that are as much for us – because indeed we are them in so many ways on the inside and outside – as it was for them.
Paul reminds all of us Christians of this in I Corinthians 10. But do we really believe it?
I don’t see much evidence that we really do.
As I’ve briefly skimmed social media the past couple of days, I see behavior from people who claim to belong to the minority of Christians I described above that looks very much like the Israelites with the Midianites.
I’ve discussed the appearance of evil by flirting with or around worldly holidays, customs, and times, and as each worldly holiday comes and goes, I see more evidence that we who claim to believe and follow the entire word of God, in fact are so disconnected from the Old Testament that we do not see how our own behavior mirrors that of Israel in eagerly conforming to the world around them instead of conforming to – and being faithful to – the holy standard of conduct that God spells out for them time and again throughout the Old Testament.
In Deuteronomy 12:29-32, God plainly says to us – you and me – as well as the Israelites who were there then:
29 “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.
We, like the Israelites, over and over again ignore this plain directive from God.
A brief look at social media the last couple of days confirms this. Christians who claim to follow the whole word of God – the Old Testament and the New Testament – repeatedly refer to today (January 1, 2016) as the beginning of a new year, when God plainly tells us the new year doesn’t start on this day. They also involve themselves, sometimes to the degree of mimicking the customs and rituals of the world, in blessing and proclaiming this day as the beginning of a new year.
It’s disappointing and makes me mourn as I see how we all – and that includes me at times – do not really connect to and live by the entire word of God, but instead we mix and match (syncretism) according to our own desires, often incorporating the profane, the unclean, and the unholy into what is supposed to be sanctified, clean and holy, defiling ourselves before God as the Israelites defiled themselves before God.
Like them, we whom claim to be Christians also have the tendency to do what’s right in our own eyes, instead of clinging to God, being careful to remember, and doing and being what God says is right in His eyes.
I just completed a study of the book of Leviticus.
This book, along with all the genealogies, numberings, and detailed dimensions and design scriptures of various structures that God specifically commissions or is describing in the Bible, has, until a couple of years ago, been a book that I kind of skimmed over except for a few chapters.
That was my loss, which hopefully I have begun to rectify.
One of the lessons I have learned about God’s attention to details is that God is intimately involved in and aware of, to a mind-boggling, but very reassuring, degree, every detail of my life, your life, and all lives.
This is confirmed by David in Psalm 147:4 and by Jesus Christ in Luke 12:7 (I think about this often: we lose and grow hair constantly throughout the day; there are 7.5+ billion people on this planet right now and God knows at any given time, for each one of us 7.5+ billion people, how many hairs are on each of our heads) and Matthew 10:29.
But, because God’s word is living, this time when I studied the book of Leviticus, I was struck by how much of God’s emphasis is on us, His children, knowing the difference between what is profane and sanctified, unclean and clean, and unholy and holy as He defines these for us in explicit detail with the continued admonition that we are to be holy because God is holy.
It saddens me that we, who claim to follow God and Jesus Christ, don’t seem to really care whether we are holy or not, although the book of Leviticus demonstrates to us continually that this is of extreme importance to God and should be of extreme importance to us.
It’s as though we see God’s word through an intellectual lens (knowledge) and we give lip service to it, but it doesn’t penetrate into our hearts, our souls, our minds so that we think about it, apply it, and live by it in every nook and cranny of our lives continually and continuously.
That was the downfall of Israel. That will be the downfall of us as well if we don’t repent.
That is the mirror and those are the lessons that are for each on one of us who claims to be a Christian in the Old Testament.
And that is why it is so important for us to study in the context of our own lives, to understand that their story and our story are the same, but we have the opportunity, through repentance and overcoming with the help of God’s spirit to have a different ending to our story.
What will we choose?