by Richard Mansel
There are three ways we can read the history of Israel in the Old Testament. We can read with disinterest, arrogance or humility. Only one of these is acceptable to God.
We read with disinterest because we don’t care about what happened to them. Moreover, we likely don’t see any real value in the Old Testament. In doing so, we set ourselves at odds with God.
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4, NKJV).
Arrogance means that we read the Israelite saga and smugly say that Israel got what they deserved. We’re like the foolish scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day (Matthew 23:29-31).
The only healthy option is to read the Old Testament with great humility and fear. We must realize that God gave us the story of his people for a good reason, and we must trust him completely (Hebrews 11:6).
We must read the Old Testament and look for ourselves because people never change (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Every trait of mankind can be found in the pages of the Bible, and each of them is weighed by God.
As we study the story of Israel, we cannot miss their lessons.
In Ezekiel 14-16, Israel is told that they will be taken into captivity regardless of what they do. Their sins were so atrocious that God’s patience was exhausted. They had taken idols as their fathers, and they must suffer the consequences (Ezekiel 16:3).
Reading with humility, we see that Israel didn’t reach this point in one moment. Incrementally, God’s people made poor spiritual decisions and became enamored with the world around them. Their apostasy was not a single leap, but a lengthy series of stumbles.
We leave God one decision at a time and before long, we’ve closed the door forever (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31). Each simple, seemingly harmless decision turns the prow of the ship and soon we are in dangerous waters.
While we have security as long as we’re living for Christ (Romans 8:1), we can choose to take another path (Hebrews 2:1).
We must be consciously righteous, or we will be unconsciously unrighteous. We must remain alert to the dangers around us. We cannot live the Christian life on auto-pilot because Satan is always a threat (1 Peter 5:8).
Be awake and alert. We don’t know if we’re better than Israel and whether severe judgment is around the corner. Only God knows, and we must follow him completely.