The Old Testament ends with a sense of great expectancy. The exiles have returned. The walls of Jerusalem and temple have been rebuilt. The prophets, while still recounting the sins of Israel and the disgrace of her downfall, are now speaking of tremendous promises and of the glory yet to come.
The last Old Testament book in our reading schedule was Joel, and what a climax it is! “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days” (2:29). “The Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. . . . the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk” (3:16-17).
It struck me that our relationship with God, as reflected in the reports of the kings, judges and prophets, is more about seeking and inquiring of God than even of asking from him. Of course, there is a place for prayers of petition (especially seen from the temple or designated places of worship). But perhaps we emphasize the petition aspect more than we should. After all, when we ask according to God’s will, it will be done! But how do we know whether or not we are asking according to His will if we do not seek to know his will first? And seeking to know his will, will be of no value, unless and until we know how to hear his voice — unless and until we are sheep who know the Shepherd’s voice.
Entering into the New Testament, the birth, baptism, temptations and teachings of Jesus are deeply meaningful. I am glad that Jesus teachings about the Law of Moses vis-a-vis God’s new covenant law are clearly explained in many passages. It is now so noticeable how much Jesus emphasizes that relationship, that of the old with the new.
It is very hard to believe that we have only two days of the Read-a-Thon remaining!