Read The Whole Book
I love chapter 9, in which Bilbo frees the dwarves from the elven-king’s prison.
My favourite quote is at the end when Gandalf says, “Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”
Ah yes, I love The Hobbit.
I’ve never actually read the whole book though. I just keep reading the parts I like over and over again.
Ok, that’s not true. But what if it was? Wouldn’t that be a really stupid way to read a book?! How could I understand what’s truly happening in the story if I ignored everything that came before my favourite parts.
The sad thing is that this is exactly the way many Christians read their Bibles! They focus on their favourite parts (usually in the New Testament), or their favourite character (Jesus), and in doing so miss much of God’s redemptive story.
“In our times, says one church historian, the social liberals have sought to recover the Gospels, the Pentecostals the book of Acts, and the evangelicals the Epistles. Perhaps we should join together ecumenically to recover the Biblical books that preceded all of those. How easily we forget that the Bible’s sweeping statements on divine inspiration [2 Tim. 3:16]…were written about the Old Testament, the only Bible those authors had.” (Philip Yancey in The Bible Jesus Read.)
Why should we read the Old Testament? To learn about Jesus!
When the Lord was on earth, he used the Old Testament to teach his disciples about who he was.
-“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27 )
-“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39)
-“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44, 45)
We need to recover this practice of using the Old Testament to testify about Jesus. In fact, I would argue that you cannot fully understand who Jesus is or what he taught without the Old Testament. You can call yourself a “Red Letter Christian” and devote yourself to “first and foremost doing what Jesus said.” (from redletterchristians.org), but if you ignore the Old Testament’s teaching on the life and ministry of the Messiah, you’ll be in danger of misinterpreting what Jesus actually taught. If he came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17), then you need to understand what the Old Testament says in order to understand what Jesus’ very purpose on earth was.
So when was the last time you read the Old Testament? I don’t mean your favourite Psalm or Proverb…I mean, when was the last time you read the WHOLE Old Testament? Try it and you’ll find you understand Jesus (and the rest of the New Testament) in a more complete way.
For the record…
I highly recommend reading, The Scriptures Testify About Me (Jesus and the Gospel in the Old Testament), edited by D.A. Carson
I’ve found that having a good Bible Reading Plan helps me stay organized (something I never thought would happen!). Here’s a site that has several different options to help you read the entire Bible through in a year: http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/