Wednesday, August 26, 2020

OT-2 Boring Parts by Design?!!


If you assembled the Bible what would you include?

This week, a post by Pastor John Piper got stuck in my head and I could not shake it. It is called, "How do I feed my soul in the hard books of the Old Testament." Writers often do a literature review. I like reading what others say about what I'm researching. The audio/article is worth checking out. If you do, you will see I am echoing a lot of what he says.

As a teen I decided to read the Bible from front to back. Genesis was pretty exciting. There were familiar stories from Sunday School. Exodus was also great about Moses raised in a palace, his wild rebellion, the burning bush, the plagues of Egypt… But then I got to Leviticus. That was so dry. Yawn. I wondered why so many details from an ancient culture were put in there?


For starters the Bible was orchestrated and inspired by God the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:15-16, Hebrews 4:12-14, 2 Peter 1:21). Individuals of many different backgrounds wrote the different books with writing implements. But God was in the workings of it all. The Bible is His master creation, His Word to us. And it is for all who have ever existed or will come to be.

There are 66 books total, written over a thousand year+ time span by writers of various backgrounds. Realize it is inspired by God with one central message throughout. God who created mankind loves and wants a relationship with every person if they sincerely, earnestly seek Him. He wants to bring immense value to our life. He wants to delight in us and we in Him. In the odd, hard-to-get-through passages of the Bible, know it is the story of Almighty God desiring an amazing relationship with each of us.


Try wrapping your head around this. God was interested in a relationship with people of every culture, every nation, during every century of the Bible times. Now think of the spread of the early church. Same thing. It was not just for Israel. His desire was for every culture of every nation in every century through the first one thousand years A.D. For the second thousand years A.D. too. In fact, for every culture, every nation on the face of this earth today too. Hard to fathom, but it is true!

Let me back this up with choice Scripture. We see here an interest on God's part for people from all nations to be blessed and have a relationship with Him. Let's start with what God tells Abraham when He calls him.

 The Lord had said to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3 NLT)

From the Psalms we read…

The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him. (Psalm 22:27 NLT)

Here is Jesus speaking to Nicodemus,

 For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NLT)


Check out some examples in the Bible and Early Church history demonstrating God loves and accepts people of all nations who want Him. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Old Testament

Abraham and Sarah were called to follow God from an area near modern Iraq (Genesis 12).

Rahab was a Canannite who was of a tribe God ordered purged from the land. But she declared adoration for God and she was saved from Jericho's destruction. She ended up being an ancestor of Jesus (Joshua 2:9-14, Matthew 1:5)

 The Queen of Sheba (thought to be from Ethiopia) visited King Solomon. She declared the goodness of God (2 Chronicles 9: 1-8). The early church of Ethiopia harkens their faith to the Queen of Sheba.

New Testament

The Apostle Paul went as a missionary to many places far and wide. Here is a sampling of a few countries familiar to us today. He spent time in Ephesus which is modern Turkey. He started churches in several other places in Turkey. He preached in Athens Greece (Acts 17:22) and many other places in Greece. He ministered in Rome (Italy). He died in Rome. A great longing before he died was to go preach the gospel in Spain.

Paul sent those he trained as pastors to new regions to work. The most notable is Titus, to whom he wrote the book named Titus. He sent Titus to the island of Crete to begin churches there. Later he sent Titus to  Dalmatia which is called Croatia today.

Early Church History

72 A.D. Thomas (one of the twelve, "doubting Thomas") was killed by spear in India. It is thought he brought Christianity there. By 300 A.D. there was a growing population of Christians in India, but the latter 300s has such ferocious persecution many left (many went to Syria, some to Bahrain, Dubai other places such as France).

160- c240 A.D. Tertullian, an early church father and writer, was from Carthage, which is still today a part of Tunis, Tunisia. There was a huge Biblical library of written works there. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) was also from Tunisia.

150-215 A.D. Clement of Alexandria. He was Greek but he taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria, Egypt which was a huge theological studies center. Many other well know church fathers spoke or taught there as well, such as Origin, Jerome and many more.

347-420 A.D. Jerome. Quite widely travelled. He was from an area we call Bosnia. He spent some time in France, teaching in Trier, Germany, and also some time near Bulgaria. He died in Bethlehem. A very interesting Biblical scholar.

Gallaus Oratory
600s - St. Patrick. He was from Britain and went as a missionary to Ireland. He has an amazing life story.

In the history of Christianity in China/Mongolia, Genghis Kahn reigned from 1206-1227. A grandson who became the Khan, Möngke Khan, listened carefully to Christians and protected their rights.

Today there are Christians in or from every corner of the Globe. Many Christians in America are concerned Christianity as they’ve known it is having less and less impact in America. However, rapid, even massive, church growth has shifted to the southern hemisphere especially in Latin America and Africa.


So let us get back to the original question? If you assembled the Bible what would you include? Remember it is not just for you and your corner of the world. It is for every century there ever was or will be, for every person.

When a Bible passage doesn't thrill you, seems boring or irrelevant, remember it is put there by God for a reason. It is for someone, for a people group, for some time frame. There just may something there for you too. Ask God what insight He might have for you. I will have tips for how you can work through some of those passages in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned! But let me pass on a final story Pastor John Piper recounted. I was so tickled by it I researched this Bible translation story from Papua New Guinea for myself.


It seems a young missionary and his wife (Des and Jenny Oatridge) worked on Bible Translation in Papua New Guinea with a very small tribal group. Over the years, many from that people group were wiped out by war and displacement. They were decimated from 3,000 to 111 people when the translation work began.

When Des finished the book of Matthew he had left the first 17 verses out, which were the genealogy of Christ. He realized he needed to include it to say the book was complete. His language helper sailed through helping translate this section. He then insisted they absolutely must read it at a village meeting that night. Why the urgency, Des wondered.

As Des read the passage that night, more and more people arrived and pressed in to hear. The room got so quiet it seemed even the night insects were silent.
 He wondered if they are angry. Had he broken some taboo?

"Why have you not told us this before?" they urgently demanded.

They explained no one records the ancestry of a spirit or a make believe tale. This Jesus must be a real person!  The whole room chattered as it dawned on them that Jesus and the stories about Him in Matthew were real. They had to be true. "What the mission has taught us is real," they said.

Who knew? Who knew that one of the more boring parts of the Bible to us would be the key that would unlock the reality of the Son of God made flesh for the sake of a small isolated people group on the other side of the world.

Don't disrespect the boring parts of the Bible! They are part of God's master plan. Ask God to speak to your heart, what you need today, from God's Word.

Up Next: Old Testament: Poetry, Legalese and History Lessons

Previous Post: Jesus Loved the Old Testament

For Reflection:

1. What part of the Bible do you have a hard time reading or accepting?

2. What do you love about the Bible? Has an unusual story or verse in the Bible grabbed your attention in a special way that might be odd to someone else? 

3. Do you have that personal connection with God? Do you delight in Him as He delights in you?

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