The introductions in the ESV study Bible seem a little like the trailers before a film at the cinema! Anticipation is building and I find I’m almost halfway through my popcorn! (Will definitely need another Pepsi from the counter before the actual film starts)
“The following trailers have been specially selected for this film”
This introduction gave less of an overview of the Old Testament, and more of an overview of it’s themes and style. Rather that trying to identify a single over-arching theme for the whole Old Testament and in so doing over-simplify and miss other themes! It suggested a better approach would be to see it as an ‘Unfolding Story’, with the various parts (law, prophets, history etc) all contributing to this story in different ways.
I think my notes above, are comprehensive enough to grasp without my spelling it all out again. So I wanted to share the three things that stood out to me.
1) Monotheism doesn’t just mean there is One God. Monotheism in the Old Testament means that as followers of God, we need to have an exclusive loyalty and devotion to One God. This is a move from comprehension towards application. It’s not enough to know that there is One God, we must also follow One God. This is easier than it sounds, especially when you consider Keller’s list of “counterfeit gods” (dreams, relationships, money, success, power and glory). Jesus reiterates this in the gospel when He says that you cannot serve two masters! And so the Old Testament reminds us that there is only One God who is worthy of our worship and devotion.
2) One of the ways the OT communicates this Grand Unfolding Story, is through the repeated Eschatology (which I understand to mean something to do with the future). Over and over again, the OT story is pointing towards a glorious future for God’s people, one that is brought about by a Messiah – aka Jesus! This was important to me because, it reminds me that Scripture is all about Jesus. And likewise, my life, as I read Scripture and immerse myself in the Bible, should also mirror this pattern. My prayer after reading this introduction was that I could say like John ‘He must increase, I must decrease’. Let everything I do point towards Him.
Even my social media presence should point towards Jesus, Tony Reinke said: “my social media feed must glorify someone because my life must glorify someone. So who is getting glorified in my feed? That’s the humongous questions we all face as image bearers in the digital age”.
3) God wants to restore humanity to it’s original purpose, He wants to rescue us from sin, and this is what He will do (has done) in Jesus.
As a heads up, we’ve got two more introductions before Genesis 1:1. One an introduction to the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), and the other is an introduction to Genesis. Then we begin. So far I’ve not got to use the commentary on Genesis, but will start that when I start reading. Thanks for reading this, and I would appreciate any feedback via ‘comments’ as to what works well and what doesn’t about these posts.
Finally, I want to end by Returning to the Question (as my History teacher would say)…why am I studying the Bible? Why am a I taking hours out of my morning, that could be given to sleep, reading, exercise or writing? It is because I want to have a dynamic relationship with God, I want to grow into a posture of receptivity and learning. And I want the number one teacher – in my life – to be God’s word (Not Piper, Keller, Willard, Ferris or twitter). May His true, perfect, good and transformational Word transform me. I want my life to be all about Jesus, and so I am going to devote my time to sitting at His feet and listening!
To Him be the Glory!