Five things… (One story)
So I’m what you could call a story teller. I have been from the time I was little (a gift it seems I have passed to my oldest daughter), I would constantly hear my dad tell me to get to the point as I would be describing in detail so many things he wearied of waiting for the action. I’m still guilty of it, my wife likes to make fun of the fact that when asked by my last church’s search committee to briefly describe how I ended up in Arkansas and I mentioned the color of the station wagon that I rode in from California to Florida when I was five. For the record it was blue. As it turns out God is the master story teller, His Word recounts the history and emotions of the story mankind has been engaged in from the beginning, and all of it is amazing. I didn’t use to think this. I mean, I knew the Bible was important and I loved the stories especially the ones in the Old Testament, you know like when Jael nails Sisera to the ground with a tent spike through the temple while he took a nap, but I had a hard time understanding why, aside from just knowing the history, I should care. Then God showed me.
I’m sure most of you reading this are far more knowledgeable than I am and so this will be extremely shocking to you that I didn’t know this but I didn’t know that the whole Bible wasn’t just about history and understanding facts but was rather one giant love story of redemption. I had no clue that you could see Christ in every story in the Old Testament. I had intentionally not taught some of my favorite OT stories and stayed strictly on the Gospels, so I could teach about Jesus, but as it turns out the whole Bible is story about us and Jesus.
The story opens with the greatness of God who’s words speak things into being and sweet intimate fellowship with the humans in the cool of the day. Then we tanked it. From Genesis three on it’s the story of God bringing about redemption through Jesus. I’ll give you an example; in Numbers 16 we see a group of leaders attempt to lead a rebellion and basically try and get Moses and Aaron fired. God distinguishes between His leaders and the dissenters by causing the ground to open up and swallow those who oppose His leaders. The following day this is what takes place:
“41 But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.”42 And when the congregation had assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting. And behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared.43 And Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting,44 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,45 ”Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces.46 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, and put fire on it from off the altar and lay incense on it and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the Lord; the plague has begun.”47 So Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he put on the incense and made atonement for the people.48 And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped.49 Now those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides those who died in the affair of Korah.50 And Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, when the plague was stopped.” – Numbers 16:41-50
So we see the people of Israel not learn the lesson from the previous day and return to gripe at Moses and Aaron (and by proxy God), and this time God has had enough and a plague breaks out among the people. Moses recognizes it and tells Aaron to hurry and grab his censer and get some fire off the altar and then lay incense on and take it to the people to offer atonement for their sin and hopefully spare their lives. So Aaron runs into the middle of the crowd and literally stands in between those dying of the plague and those who are still alive. He’s standing there saying that in order to kill anyone else the plague will have to sweep through me. He’s waving his censer crying out for the forgiveness of their sin. What we see here is a beautiful Old Testament picture of the truth of our condition before a holy God we have challenged His leadership in our lives countless times as is evident by our sin. But because our God loves us with an unfathomable love He sent his Son to run into our midst and make atonement for us with His very life. He stood as our mediator, our rescuer and now stands between the living and the dead.
This is just one example of the great overarching story that our God has given us. It’s one of my five things that your students need to know before they graduate because these young people need to see that all of God’s Word is full of life and substance beyond so and so killed so and so. They need to realize that God has always and will always chase them with His love and He’s been telling us that from the very beginning.
What’s your favorite Old Testament story? Have you been able to relate the truth of God’s redeeming love through the Old Testament? Have any great stories to share?
This is part four of Five Things your students need to know before they graduate. You can find the previous ones here: Part 1 (The Gospel), Part 2 (Religion isn’t from God), and Part 3 (God doesn’t want your best).