Three Reflections from Reading the Old Testament for ~1.5 Years

Hi, friends. Click this post if you want to read about the good, bad, and ugly (or more like the strange, inexplicable, and wonderful) things about reading the Old Testament. 😉

In this time frame, I’ve read:

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Numbers
  4. Deuteronomy
  5. Leviticus
  6. Joshua
  7. Judges
  8. Ruth
  9. I & II Samuel
  10. I & II Kings
  11. I & II Chronicles
  12. Esther
  13. Ecclesiastes
  14. Job
  15. Some Psalms & Proverbs
  16. Some of the minor prophets
  17. Isaiah (currently reading)

I embarked on this journey for a couple big reasons:

  1. I wanted to pursue God and learn more about my religion (Christianity).
  2. Most criticism or misunderstandings about the Bible stem from the OT, so I wanted to dive into it for myself.

Below, I share three of my takeaways from my experience so far (still have a few books to chip away).

The OT is the predecessor of the NT

I’m stating the obvious here, but I think a lot of modern Christians (like me for most of my life) don’t understand the story of our faith. Jesus was not just a great moral teacher who randomly popped up in the middle of history; His timing, His message, His ministry, and everything about Him finds its source and meaning in the narrative of God’s chosen people that leads to Him. I now understand Christianity in an comprehensive, “A to Z” way I never did in the past.

The Delivery of Israel out of Egypt, Francis Danby, 1825

God promised Abraham he would eventually bless ALL nations, which happened when Jesus came to earth. In significant ways, the exodus mirrors the mission of Jesus (God releasing “His people” from an outside, oppressive, evil force…first, freeing the Hebrews from the Egyptians…later, freeing all people from sin and death). The propensity of the Hebrews to stray from God throughout the OT echoes humanity’s gravitation to pride/selfishness/rebellion (which is also illustrated through Adam and Eve) and demonstrates the need for Jesus to come and do exactly what He did (and, if analyzed deeply, reveals why Jesus subverted messianic expectations). Reading “the beginning” of this epic story brings “the ending” into full perspective.

Pursuing God leads to wrestling with God

Balaam and the Angel, Gustav Jaeger, 1836

To be absolutely blunt, there is so much in the OT that unsettles me…some (many) of the laws of Moses, a talking donkey in Numbers, the mass murdering in Joshua, the story of the virgin from Judges, extreme wrath in the prophets’ books, and the list goes on. [Granted, there are a few disconcerting things in the NT (not a big fan of the Ananias and Sapphira story), but still.] The margins of my Bible contain plenty of confused question marks and shocked exclamation marks. This is when it’s easier to be the Christian whose knowledge of the OT is limited to the creation, flood, and exodus…or, better yet, the Christian who just inherited their parents’ religion, never chewing on the meat, content with milk.

I don’t have a million justifications to plaster over every questionable story or rule; I could rebut some but certainly not all of a skeptic’s criticism on certain passages. I’ll let you in on a secret, though: wrestling with God lines up more with the Bible’s overarching message of loving humility than arrogantly believing you have all the answers. Hey, at least I’m pursuing Him hard enough to have questions and concerns at all! 😉

God & Jesus & the Holy Spirit have the same heart

This statement may initially seem redundant, but I find it extremely necessary, if not urgent, to clarify this. Many people–Christian and non-Christian–believe an over-simplified misconception that God is “the strict one” and Jesus is “the compassionate one.” Gah, the cognitive dissonance! But I discovered as I read the entire history of God and the Hebrews for myself that God exhibits the same heart for the poor/oppressed/helpless, the same mercy, etc. as Jesus does in the gospels.

Baptism of Christ, David Zalenka, 2005

While the law of Moses contains a loooot of tedium (and musings on the purpose of those rules is better suited for a separate post), God also mandates the Hebrews to care for the lowly (especially in Leviticus 19). I mentioned how the Hebrews repeatedly stray from the path in the OT, and neglecting care for the lowly plays a major role in that. In fact, most of the coming wrath displayed in the books from prophets is directed towards greedy, powerful people who exploit and neglect the lowly, while refuge is promised to the poor and needy.

So God sent His son Jesus, who has the heart of His Father, to reiterate the spirit of the law and extend it. The Holy Spirit is simply the spirit of God and Jesus, which guides us and stirs our hearts. If the three members of the trinity aren’t united in grace and truth, the whole concept makes no sense. As my blogging buddy Mel once said so profoundly, Jesus is the lens through which we should view God.


Reading the Old Testament full-force has somehow simultaneously challenged and strengthened my faith. Despite all the things I don’t comprehend and that stumble me up, I’ve felt God working on me through this process.

Thanks for reading! How much of the OT have you read? What’s your two cents? Let me know in the comments.

12 comments

  1. Love this post, Lily, and believe it’s something all people of faith should do from time to time – go back to the beginning and start over. I’ve learned something new each and every time that helps me grow in my faith walk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE the Old Testament despite some of those unsettling parts. The scarlet cord of redemption that starts right at the beginning makes Jesus and his ministry so much more meaningful. I really loved discovering how Jesus is basically the embodiment of the Temple in the old testament. A lot of the many rules seem crazy but then some really make sense the more you understand the history of the times — which I’m slowly beginning to explore. Also most of the rules have to do with the priestly class which then makes Jesus as the High Priest even that much more interesting. Teddy Roosevelt was right when he said a good understanding of the Bible was worth more than any college degree. It’s so rich on so many levels!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. …and maybe requires more commitment and work than a college degree, haha! Glad to hear from you, Adrienne. Do you have any resources you recommend? I’d like to start exploring those things, too!

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      1. I look in all different directions. Some really interesting perspectives come from the Messianic Jewish community. I guy I found really interesting was Ryan White and his series on culture and the temple: https://www.myrevivetv.com/programs/culture-context and for a different view there’s a book by Sonja Corbitt (a Catholic) called Fulfilled which makes the case that the traditional Catholic Mass is the true embodiment of everything looked forward in the OT. 🙂 I’d be curious to see what you uncover in your studies too!

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  3. Hi Lily, Enjoyed the reading. I can’t say too much about the OT. I have read some but not indepth or near all of it. But I am intrigged, to start the reading again. The Bible is a very interesting book of facts about what we believe in, lots of unanswered questions and answered questions. I have a question for you, I have ask this question to many pastors over the years, Sunday School teachers ect. Adam and Eve were made by God, the first humans made. They had children to populate the earth. When the children became of age they sought Husbands or Wives. Where did they find them? I have been told I don’t know, they married their siblings. What is your answer? I know you study the Bible more than most young people ans some older adults. Something to ponder on! Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, lots of answered AND unanswered questions! Speaking of questions, yours is a good one. I googled it and noticed that a popular argument is that Noah had lots of sons and daughters while he lived for about 900 years, so the sons had several girls they could marry. I will have to get a Genesis commentary. There are other things in Genesis that also throw me for a loop.

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  4. Excellent post Lily. I agree that having a good understanding of the OT helps us grasp the magnitude of the New Testament. I’m glad you’re reading through the OT. T and I are actually working our way through the New Testament. Blessings.

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