How the Old Testament Drew Me Closer to God - By Maggie Guthrie

How the Old Testament Drew Me Closer to God - By Maggie Guthrie

Ever since I was young, Scripture has captivated me. I can remember locking myself in my room as a teenager, journal and pen in hand, as I wrote and memorized each Proverb. I devoured the Psalms, a guide for my own conversations with the Lord. Hearing from God through His word became absolutely indispensable to my faith. I was hungry to hear from Him, and I wanted to read every single word He had for me. 

Gone are the days of locking myself in my room for hours reading my Bible. I now have 6 kids in tow, and with them a tiresome list of duties that keep me from soaking in Scripture. I steal moments in the Bible as often as I can, but I daydream of the time I used to spend with God before my children. Can you relate? For you it could be a new job that has you working longer hours, or some other obstacle that eats away at your time. I get less scripture these days...but oh, how I need it more than ever. 

Knowing my love for singing and worship leading, a friend shared a snippet from a podcast. A worship leader was speaking with a pastor friend, and he urged her not to say another word to the congregation until she had read the Bible through in chronological order (wait, the Bible isn’t in chronological order??). I’m sure I have read Scripture in its entirety, but never in chronological order. I’m embarrassed to admit this! To start, first comes part of Genesis, then Job, then back to Genesis. How had no one taught me this? I felt God calling me to a deeper understanding of Scripture—a deeper understanding of the intricacy with which the threads of His Word are woven.

He knew this was what I needed as I was in a bit of a dry spell as a weary mom. I didn’t know it at the time, but I needed my love for His Word to be reignited. I was tired of grabbing bite-size pieces of Scripture, always nibbling but never fully satiated. How could I commit my entire life to God but not do absolutely everything in my power to understand Him as best as I possibly could through His Word? 

With my Bible commentary in one hand, and Scripture in the other, I set out to read the entire Bible chronologically. I gave myself no time restrictions. This wasn’t a box I wanted to check, but more of an act of worship. I wanted to meditate and marinate in each passage and really seek God's wisdom as I read, no matter how long it took. 

I will admit that I prefer the New Testament (I don’t think I’m alone in this!). The Old Testament feels quite tedious and...and I’m going to say it, dull. I shared my feelings with the Lord and prayed the Psalm 119 prayer: “Open my mind and let me discover the wonders of your law–the Law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (119:18,72)

As I read through Exodus and Leviticus, I felt overwhelmed at all God was asking of His people. At times it all seemed so unobtainable and so unfair. I brought these questions to the Lord and waited for His reply. I could sense the Holy Spirit revealing to me one of the Father’s attributes that I did not fully grasp: His holiness. My gut reaction was that God was being unreasonable. Was all this ritual necessary? However, Hebrews 12:14 says this, “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord”. The Lord wanted His people to see Him. He wanted to see His people. How incredible! And so, every act of sacrifice and step taken in purification reflected the heart of the Father and His longing to be close to His people. The requirements for cleanliness and holiness all had one mission in mind: God communing with His people. 

Have you ever tried to be good? To spend a day without losing your patience or saying anything bad? It’s impossible! C.S Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good”. God knew we were powerless to cleanse ourselves from unrighteousness, so once and for all, He sent His perfect Son as the final sacrifice for our sins. “God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) The veil that guarded the Holy place of the Lord had been torn, and we were given access to our Father not by merit but by grace. 

The Holy Spirit called me to ponder His holiness further. If Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever”, then my holiness matters still. But let’s be honest. Holiness isn’t a popular trait, and it conjures images of boring and stuffy individuals who don’t laugh and have fun. But undoubtedly, this is a lie from the enemy. Leviticus 19:2 says, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy”.  Again, in the New Testament, we see this command repeated, saying, “It is written: “Be holy, because I am holy”.

I began to pray that the Lord would reveal to me any and every area of my life that broke His heart and offended Him. Where was I being unholy? If you choose to pray this prayer, be prepared! The Lord answers. Hebrews 4:12 says “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. Through Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit, He showed me my hidden faults and other behaviors that drew me away from Him. There were shows I stopped watching and music I stopped listening to. Do you know what He replaced those earthly pleasures with? Himself. I experienced less anxiety and sadness. Friend, this world would have us believe that if we abandon their practices, we abandon our own fulfillment as well. This is so far from the truth. The gift of God is more satisfying and more fulfilling than anything earth has to offer. He has come to give us life and give it to us in abundance! 

Today, I thank the Lord for His Word. Even after years of walking with Him, I am day by day being transformed into His likeness. Truly, “His word is a lamp unto my feet and a light into my path” Psalm 119:105. The Lord has opened my eyes to the beauty of the fullness of His Word. He has answered my prayer and revealed hidden treasures within the pages of the Old Testament. I understand Him more and appreciate even more the redemptive and miraculous saving power of Christ. God’s desire for me to be Holy stems from His deep love for me. He knows that when I am holy, I see Him more clearly. And to see Him is my heart's greatest desire!

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