Saturday, March 20, 2010

Old Testament "Stories"

I am reading through 1 Kings right now and have been struck by how different some of it appears from what I remember and was taught. I am coming to the conclusion that every young adult should go back and reread the Old Testament at a slow rate, digesting everything that they read. Last night I read the story of Solomon asking God for wisdom and tonight I read about David wanting to build God a temple. There are two common childrens' lessons that I have seen from these two stories. We teach children how great it was that Solomon could have anything that he wanted but yet asked God for wisdom and we tell children about how much David loved God and wanted to build a house for him but could not, and we almost paint this picture of "poor David". I will be making posts regarding both of these stories in the near future, so I don't want to go too far in depth right now, but I think that if we look at the story of Solomon we see that he in fact had wisdom before he asked God for it and that his main motive in that dream was not serving God but rather establishing his own kingdom. In the case of David and the temple, if we go back and reread it, we see that God says, "...did I ever say to any leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people, 'Why have you not built me a house of cedar?'" (1 Chronicles 17:6) And what was David's reasoning for wanting to build God a house? "Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent." (1 Chronicles 17:1) Why do we teach our children that David was right in this when it appears that God did not agree? Why do we not teach them that instead David should have lowered his standard of living, that God's house was not the problem but rather it was David's house that was the problem? This would be more inline with other passages, such as Isaiah 5:8-30. I could go on, but you will have to read my post regarding this passage of Scripture.

My main point, however, is this. I think that we need to critically evaluate, according to the rest of Scripture, how we teach our children stories from the Old Testament. Are we teaching them cultural principles, such as freedom and capitalism, or are we teaching them Biblical mandates, such as slavery to Christ and simple living? Are we teaching them what our culture is telling us is right or are we actually looking at the Biblical text and teaching them what the text is actually saying? Where in our own lives are we living against Scripture but using obscure twisted versions of Biblical stories to back up our thoughts and decisions? This does not even have to be conscious, but my desire would be to see the American church as a whole go back and reevaluate the Old Testament and what is actually being taught in the stories that are told, and bring to conscious awareness the wrong things we are currently teaching. I believe that that starts with each of us. That starts with me reading through 1 Kings and seeing what it says so that if I ever teach the 4-5 graders at church I'm teaching truth. So that one day when I have a child, Lord willing, I am teaching them truth.

Also, I want to point out one other thing. I want to point out the Gospel. David wants to build God a house because he wants to do something for God. God comes back and says "I've never needed anything. You always have. I will establish your house." Solomon seems to have ulterior motives and a desire to see his own glory established and seeking God in a way that is displeasing to God (1 Kings 3:3-4) he asks God for wisdom. Despite all of this God still gives Solomon the wisdom he desires. We teach legalism and licentiousness through many of the stories in the Old Testament, God exemplifies the Gospel.

May you have a renewed desire to learn truth. May you read through the Old Testament with eyes set free from the veils of the law through the gospel, seeing Christ on every page, and learning what it means to live wholly devoted to God. May we each learn to love Christ, not as we desire to love him or as our culture tells us to love him, but as he desires to be loved and instructs us in Scripture.

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