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  • Pastor Jacob Marchitell

How to read the Old Testament

Expanding on the week prior, Pastor Marchitell helps us understand how to read the Old Testament.



We have a few announcements this morning before letting the younger kids go to the Fun Sunday, snacks and movies time instead of boring preacher Old Testament time.


First---- this Saturday is Halloween, so if you want to help hand out Grilled hotdogs, or if you're trick or treating and want some grilled hotdogs-----or if you're not trick or treating and you still want a hotdog, you're welcome to come on down and get as many as can fit in your belly.


If you want to fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, they're are tags in the back pew, please no War related toys, and they are due back by: NOVEMBER 8th


Also on November 8th, we’ll be having another Baptism after Service. A few members of the Spanish Bible Study that meets here on Fridays, have had their eyes opened and their hearts brought to life by our God, and they wish to let everyone know.

Lake Ontario may be a little cold in November, but the Holy Spirit is hotter and nothing can prevent the will of God from pouring out on His children.


Were going to be having a “Fall Clean up Day” on Saturday NOVEMBER 14th at 8am. We’ll also be bribing you with Pizza and Drinks.

Fall clean up day Nov 14th


Next Sunday is the 1st Sunday of the Month, which means Communion.

And because of Covid, were asking everyone to bring their own Bread and Drink.


With that...the younger kids are dismissed to snacks and movies, sorry to the older kids who have to stay and listen to me preach.


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Our Bible verse this morning is going to be the same one as last week, because today could be considered PART II of last week’s Message.

2nd Timothy 3:16-17

“16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”


( → → Opening Prayer ← ← )


As a quick refresher, last week we talked about the foundation that we need to stand on when we approach the Bible, which is:

Let the Bible speak for itself.


Let the Bible speak for itself


As in---------when we approach the Bible, New or Old Testament, the very first thing we should actually, literally with our mouth say:


“God, help me see you in the text”


Say: “God I want to know you more, I want to see you, I want to learn about you, I want to hear from you, I love you God, and I am reading your words to get to know you more.”


When we go to the text with an open mind and heart, not going to support what we already believe----in a good way or a bad way. Because then we are using OURSELVES as the measuring rod of the Bible, and not the other way around.


If you already think of yourself as stupid idiot, then the first time you come across a big word, you'll get angry and give up.

If you already believe that a certain action or act is acceptable, the first time you come across something that says otherwise, you'll get angry and give up.


Let the Bible speak for itself----and change your own thinking based on it, not the other way around.


This is the foundation for any Bible reading.


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Now-----as we move on to the OT------ we need to understand that it is just as much of God’s word as the New Testament.


It isnt some old collection of stories that don't have any meaning


It isn't some weird add on that we don't have to pay attention to anymore


We should not be thinking that the Old Testament doesn't matter because we now have the New Testament


We should not be “unhitching” ourselves from the Old Testament like its some weight that is dragging us down.


Our Verses this morning, apply to every word from Genesis to Revelation ----- and its a verse you guys have heard me use and talk about a million times.


All of Scripture is “Theopneustos” - Breathed out by God. they are His words written down by human hands.


And that includes the Old Testament as well.

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So Im going to give you guys 4 tips to keep in mind when reading the Old Testament.

By the time im done, all of you will be Biblical Scholars


First thing to have in mind while reading the OT:


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#1 The Old Testament is leading up to something


One of the biggest things that we need to understand about reading the Old Testament, is that it is “unfinished” so to speak.


Not that God got cut off----

Not that there's some hidden book out there somewhere that us common folk don't know about----


But that when the Old Testament ends-----God’s not done telling the story.

There is more to come.


------------ it is just the beginning of the story before we turn the page to the first words of Matthew-----and start to read the rest of the story.


The Bible is one continually story, from Genesis to Revelation.


So when we start to read the Old Testament, we need to be aware that there is a

Continual “looking forward” ------------ to Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.


All the prophets and kings and priests knew this, and told people about it and mentioned and warned and yelled it form the tops of mountains----

------and in fact, if we wanted to, we could find references, allusions, and prophecies about Christ through every single book of the entire Old Testament.


Everyone was pointing forward-----


Everything in the The Old Testament is leading to something----- And not only something, but to someONE.


To the Birth, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ


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So that's the first thing we need to build on our foundation of letting the Bible speak for itself:


The Old Testament is leading to and pointing to Jesus


But, don't forget the “reading styles” we talked about earlier. The Mining for Gold, the Panning for Gold, and the Accidental Gold


There were more than just moral laws given.


This is a big one------ this one, is one that I think has led to most of the confusion and attacks that have come against Scripture.


There are more laws given than just the ones that state what is moral and what isnt.


No eating shellfish

No wearing clothing of two different materials

Killing animals to make up for your sins

There are dozens of laws that we see in the OT, a lot of them are in Leviticus.


So when we encounter all these strange rules and laws and regulations that seem to be over the top or strange or weird or old fashion-----we have to remember that there were different types of laws back then-----not just moral ones-



Just like today, there are laws for things that aren't inherently moral issues.


Not wearing your seat belt….is not an inherently moral issue.


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You see, when God handed down all of these laws, He was establishing a nation that never existed before.


America has the benefit of hundreds of years of laws and lawmakers arguing and debating and writing and enforcing laws.


We have 200 years of living with laws, and ordering our society and functioning and thriving


Israel didn't have that.


For 430 years they were slaves in Egypt.


They were enslaved for twice as long as America has been a nation.


Then, almost overnight, they were free.

About 2.4million of them were free

That's 2.4 million people, who never knew anything except slavery and chains-----with no system of government, no economy, no regulations, nothing.


So, God established them as a nation.

He gave them all the laws that a nation needs in order to function, ----- and not only that-----but laws to set them up as an example for other nations to know Him-----which means there were civil laws, ceremonial laws, and moral laws.


So when we read something like:

Don't wear a piece of clothing made from two different materials


OR

Don't murder, don't kidnap, and don't have sex with someone of the same gender


OR

Sacrifice a bull to God to atone for your sins…...


We have to remember that there are moral laws and there are civil laws, and ceremonial laws


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Civil laws are used to govern society - debt, restitution, how criminals are dealt with, how business is to be dealt with.


Ceremonial laws were used to separate Israel from other nations - the construction of the tabernacle, passover, feasts, circumcision.


Moral laws Are an explanation of what is moral and what is immoral.


That last category, (the moral law) is where a lot of disagreement with people is born. Because what is moral and what is immoral----- applies to everyone, everywhere, and every when


Regardless of where someone lives, what year they live in, what gender they are, how they were born, or anything else


The moral law of God transcends time and culture


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So before we get on to the last few tips for reading the Old Testament, we need to spend a few minutes here.


If there are multiple kinds of laws, given to people a long time ago…...how do we determine if its a moral law or not?


How can we determine if a certain law is one that applies to us, here and now, or not?


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If we are going to claim that the moral law of God, is not only the sole perfect indivisible law of what is moral and true-----but that it transcends time and culture, how can we determine which laws are which?


How do I determine if a law given in 1300 B.C. is one that applies to people who lived all throughout our history? Regardless of their own laws?


If a society in 1200 A.D. creates a law that contradicts God’s, who do we listen to?


If a society thrives and expands and builds and revolutionizes the planet for hundreds of years------


If a country even founded on Biblical principles-----and gives and grants more freedom than have ever been given to humanity since countries were a thing----


---------but begins passing laws in contradiction to God------ what do we do? Who do we listen to?


Do we rely on fallen people, no matter how honorable or despicable they may seem?


Do we lean on our government and our politician to teach us what is right and wrong?


Do we put our faith in the Courts of men?


Do we listen to the people of a nation and allow them to determine right and wrong?


Do we hand out a survey, take a vote, and if a certain subject or topic or action-------- has a 51% approval rate, do we then make a law and say this thing is now ok and moral and right?


If we do...do we then impose that law on the 49% who disagree?

If they resist, what do we do then?

Do we force man made laws of right and wrong on to people who claim otherwise? And imprison or kill them into compliance?


And with the tremendous amount of interconnectedness that our world has….what should we do about OTHER countries and OTHER cultures.

Do we listen to the biggest strongest country and what their courts and their laws say is moral….and then go to war with the other countries until they listen to us?

And then say whoever wins decides what is moral or not?


Does one country recruit a bunch of other ones that agree with them, to impose their man-made sense of morality onto anyone else?



I want to tell you this morning….that if your faith is in the courts and politics of men, to make things better-----


If you trust the right or you trust the left----


If you trust anyone other than the Son of Man Jesus Christ, to enact perfect justice, right every wrong, and establish a Kingdom of eternal morality and love-----then you will be sorely let down.


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Well then…..how do we know if the laws mentioned the Old Testament…..apply to us?


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First, we look at the context.

Who is the author speaking to?

Where are they?

What is going on in the rest of the Chapter?

The rest of the Book?

The rest of the Bible?


Is the Author talking about a specific person? A specific city? A specific event?


Is the Author talking about people wandering a desert and establishing a government?


Or is he talking about humanity in general?


Then we look at what the law applies to.


Is he talking about how people BEHAVE in their regular day to day lives?


Is he talking about how people act while they are worshiping or sacrificing or doing business?


Is he talking about the intimacy of sexuality?



And finally, look at the BIG PICTURE of all of Scripture.


Is the law mentioned in other places in the Bible?

What's the context of those other places in Scripture where we see this law?

Is there any overlap for all the places it’s mentioned?

Is the law given to differing kinds of people----or the same people over and over again?

Is the law given within one single generation? Or do we see it over multiple generations?


Here's a good one------

Does the law show up in the NEW TESTAMENT?

Yes, we can better understand the laws of the Old Testament, if they appear in the New Testament.

This shows us, that it is a moral law that applies to all people for all times, not just back then.


Did JESUS Himself, mention it?


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So before we move on to the last few tips to remember when reading the Old Testament, ill recap how do we determine if a law applies to us or not:

Look at the context it was given in---

Look at the subject matter it was talking about---

Look at the BIG PICTURE of all of Scripture---


When we do this, we are engaging in that first type of Bible Reading I mentioned Last week ----------- Mining for Gold.


We are digging in to what the Bible says-----and as a result, we are learning more about God.

We are seeing His character----His nature----

We are learning that He is reliable and dependable----

We are learning that for thousands upon thousands of years-----God has had a plan in place that He is continually unfolding


However-----like I've said before----while all of us should undertake this kind of reading----not all of us have brains and hearts that can do this.


All of us should dive as deep as we can…..even though some of us can dive deeper than others.


So dont be intimidated by someone who can dive deeper----

Dont be intimidated by the big words and the complicated stories----


If you have reached the end of your own ability to reason and understand-----ask for help.

Either from a Commentary

Or a different Commentary

Or a different Commentary----- there are hundreds of books written about hundred of topics in Scripture

Or ask your Pastor


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So….a little recap:


Tips for reading the Old Testament:

We start with the foundation of Letting the Bible speak for itself


The Old Testament is leading to and pointing to Jesus --- Look for Him

There are multiple types of laws given


And #3 - There are multiple GENRES in Scripture.

There are whole books of poetry

There are huge sections of allegory

There's hyperbole and symbolism

Theres first person narratives

Theres prophetic visions and instructions given to specific people

Theres prophecies given to all of humanity

There are law books and wisdom books


There are multiple GENRES or STYLES through Scripture.

So how do we determine what the genre is of what were reading?


“Should I take what is written as literal-----or poetic?”


How do we answer that?

By going through the same process we went through with the laws.

Look at the context

Look for Jesus

Look at the subject matter

And look at the Big Picture of Scripture

And if all of that cant help----look to someone else who can dive deeper than you can.


Because once we understand that there are multiple genres-----we can better understand what it is that God is communicating.


Is it a poem?

Is it allegory?

Are they talking about literal dragons?


Is the devil an actual snake? What kind of snake? A rattlesnake? A viper?

Or is it symbolic of him being devious?


Understanding the GENRE of what you're reading will help you better understand the text, and thusly help clear up confusion when it comes to knowing your God.


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Now the last tip #4

Do you remember the first 3?


Tips for reading the Old Testament:


We start with the foundation of letting the Bible speak for itself


The Old Testament is leading to and pointing to Jesus --- Look for Him

There are multiple types of laws given

There are multiple GENRES


Jesus had not yet died for people’s sins, but justice was still due.


The people who lived prior to Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, were living under law-----while we are living under grace.


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Why did God flood the entire world, and hit the reset button on humanity?

Because evil had spread and filled the world, and He is a just God who punishes and destroys evil


Why did God rain fire on Sodom and Gomorrah?

Because He is a just God who punishes and destroys evil


Why was their death and destruction and cities falling and entire people groups dying?

Because He is a just God, who punishes and destroys evil



The forgiveness that is open for all who believe that we all experience and live in every single moment of every single day--------hadn't happened yet.


Each and every single person and nation took the penalty for their own sins, either by dying themselves, or offering up a sacrifice to die in their place.


Yes there was still grace----

Yes God gave every single person and every single nation----all the time they needed to repent and turn-----


But when they didn't, they themselves suffered the consequences of their own actions----


Was God to harsh in destroying entire civilizations? How many chances did they have to repent?

Did they continually ignore Him ---- for generation after generation after generations?

Did they laugh in the face of believers and acted however they wanted, whenever they wanted----and passed laws to allow them to do so legally?


Did they condone and endorse and encourage all manner of sexuality, despite what God says?


Did they kill their children by the tens of thousands to be able to live the life they wanted?


How long should God wait before judging a nation?

How many warnings should He give them?


How much evil must be done in order for a person or a nation to reach the evilest they will be?


How many chances should God give a nation that has shaped and changed and molded the planet---- to turn from their evil before He brings chaos and destruction upon them?


How long should God wait before judging a person?


Praise be to God -------- that we can rely upon the perfect life and atoning death of Jesus Christ---- who took the punishment for all who believe in Him!!


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When we read the Old Testament, the foundation that we stand on:


Is---- let the Bible speak for itself.

Not what we want it to say

Not what our beliefs already are before we get to it

Let the Bible speak for itself


When we do that, we can move and build on it with three things:


The Old Testament is leading to and pointing to Jesus --- Look for Him

There are multiple types of laws given

There are multiple GENRES

And we need to look at the context, the author, the audience, the subject matter, and the Big Picture of all of Scripture

Jesus had not yet died for people’s sins, but justice was still due.


Reading the Old Testament can be:

Scary

Intimidating

Confusing

Anger inducing

Frustrating


But it is the Word of God


So don't be afraid of reading Leviticus or Numbers

Don't be afraid of reading Judges or 2nd Chronicles


Look for help when you need it, rely on people who have climbed the mountain, and follow their footsteps.


Don't be afraid or complacent when it comes to reading the Old Testament----and


Look for Jesus in every Book because it is all pointing to Him.


( → → Closing Prayer ← ← )


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