I’m through Leviticus and Numbers and getting excited about seeing the Israelites enter the Promised Land. I love reading the victories of Joshua. I’m excited about reading about Rahab and the fall of Jericho.
But then I started thinking about what comes next. The Book of Judges is really awful to read. To see the Israelites so quickly succumb to disgusting acts, and sin, and everyone “do what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6 ESV).
And then we go on, and see Saul’s reign, his downfall, some good parts as David becomes king (much to Saul’s chagrin, of course).
There is always beauty, glimpses of godliness, but mostly the Old Testament is a lot of God’s people flopping on their faces and turning away from him. At a point 2 Chronicles, the people had totally lost the Mosaic Law and didn’t even know what they were doing! The Prophets were continually abused, imprisoned, and so forth for telling the truth.
It’s easy to sink completely in depression thinking about reading all of this, about this abuse of God’s name and glory, especially given all He’s done for the stupid Israelites in leading them out of Egypt. He travels with them in a cloud and in fire! He actually rests there in Tabernacle, waiting to meet with them!
But you know what? I think that’s kind of the point.
God had the redemption of mankind through His Son Jesus planned from the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:19-20). He knew man would fail OVER and OVER and OVER again – and keep on failing long after the Bible was complete, after the redemption. He had it written down so we would know why He had planned it, how it came to be, and how He foreshadowed the redemption in almost every story written in its books.
God pointed to Jesus in Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, in Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers, in Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute. He foretells of the Savior’s birth flat-out in many books. He wanted – if I can be so presumptuous as to think I know what God wants – to make His grand story known as much as possible. I think because of all the Old Testament sacrifices, the people would recognize Jesus as the Ultimate Sacrifice.
The One whose sacrifice was finally enough.
The Bible is the whole story – the Sacred Romance, Eldredge calls it. It can be painful to read, wonderful to consider, but so important. God’s Story. The Story. The end. And the beginning.