When’s the last time you read the Old Testament?
Many Christians don’t pay much attention to the older books of the Bible. After all, Jesus didn’t live during that time. Paul didn’t make his travels in that era. Who cares about the times before the Apostles spread the word?
Because there were no Christians in the Old Testament, that shouldn’t mean we just ignore that part of the Good Book. So much of what became Christianity is built on those older books and chapters.
Start with Genesis, not just the stories of the Creation and Adam and Eve but of Abraham, the man revered by three major religions for their formation. Isaac and Jacob and Joseph followed.
Moses enters the scene in Exodus, bringing the ancient Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. The entire early history of the Jewish people is displayed – and remember, Jesus was Jewish.
All the great stories of the Old Testament are told, the ones you learned in Sunday School or summer Vacation Bible School. Joshua and Samson, David and Solomon, Ruth and Esther. The fall of the ancient kingdoms, their return to Jerusalem, all the building blocks of the faith are there.
Remember all of the prophecies pointing to Jesus from the Old Testament? It’s a considerable list.
Three books are tied to Solomon, revered by some as the wisest man ever. Ecclesiastes is worth a read as a lament of a man who had everything and yet felt as if he had nothing. That sounds like many people today looking for fulfillment in their lives and coming up empty.
And the Song of Solomon, sometimes called the Song of Songs, is just, well…rather racy. If you like pulp romance novels you’ll love the Song of Songs. Have a fan running when you read it.
At least one book, though, has advice for anyone looking for positive direction. And it’s as applicable today as it was over 2,500 years ago.
The Book of Proverbs is a treasure trove of sayings and guides to help you on life’s journey. Ever checked it out?
Proverbs is perfect for today. We’re told people have shorter attention spans these days. No problem, most of the wisdom of Proverbs is in quick two line segments. Anyone can read and understand.
And the wisdom begins right from the start…
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7 NIV
Those know-it-alls who have their own answers for everything? Bet they’ve never read Proverbs.
A total of 31 chapters features advice for nearly every topic of life. Let’s pick a few verses…
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1 NIV
We’ve always had difficult people, and we always will. These are folks you see on cable TV or hear on wild radio or online talk shows. Or those people who post just about anything on social media, usually under some alias so you don’t know who they really are.
Politicians would be wise to read the Book of Proverbs – maybe we could actually start solving public problems instead of just enflaming the rhetoric.
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. – Proverbs 12:15 NIV
No one has all the answers. Even when you think you have something right, when another possibility comes up it’s worth a look.
And the very next verse…
Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. – Proverbs 12:16 NIV
So often today people just launch into a tirade as soon as they hear something that goes against their grain or agenda. Ever do that and then realize later, “I should have kept my mouth shut?” Yep, should have read Proverbs.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. – Proverbs 31:8 NIV
In this age of social media when seemingly anyone can make a big noise online, there still remains a large number of people who are silent. Yet their issues are real and need attention. If their cause is just perhaps you can be their voice.
You can randomly choose any chapter of Proverbs and get some great advice for your life today. Let’s pick Chapter 19…
Wealth attracts many friends, but even the closest friend of the poor person deserts them. – Proverbs 19:4 NIV
Very sad…and still very true.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. – Proverbs 19:17 NIV
Another old line – “you can’t take it with you.” Earthly rewards will stay right here. Heavenly rewards never expire. We are always called to help those in need so…help.
A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty; rescue them, and you will have to do it again. – Proverbs 19:19 NIV
Ouch, that one seems a little harsh. You want to help others but we probably all know someone who just can’t cool their temper. And then you get roped in to rescuing them again…and again…and again…
Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge. – Proverbs 19:25 NIV
We never said these would be easy. There’s no place for mocking, anywhere, yet so many can’t help themselves today. Patience is indeed a virtue, just hold your tongue or your typing fingers. And those with prudence can learn from anything, even when someone feels the need to slam them.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. – Proverbs 19:21 NIV
And there’s the culmination of all of Proverbs and perhaps of the entire Bible. The Lord’s purpose is above all others – you can be the richest person on Earth or the most powerful or the most conniving. Your plans mean nothing next to those of God.
As you go through your travels this week and forever, always keep that in mind.
Perhaps read through the above verses again. But better yet, grab your Bible or open that Bible app on your gadget or gizmo, and find the Book of Proverbs. Thirty one chapters may sound like a lot but the wisdom in short bites goes by quickly.
A project? Find those verses that directly affect you right now, that speak to some problems you are currently having. And EVERYONE has some. Perhaps write them down or print them out and post them some place that you’ll see them regularly. The fridge door is always a popular spot.
In these crazy times God’s wisdom still prevails. And never forget…
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…
Always serve Him and you’ll never go wrong. Riches await.
From George Churchgoer