First blog post for me! Woo! Two major points I wanted to cover here: this reading plan/the Bible itself, and the Law and commandments of God.
Firstly, I feel like this reading plan is giving me a different perspective than I have had reading the Bible before. Similar to what Apollo mentioned earlier, I feel like it’s instructive to read about the way that God has worked throughout history, under the old and the new covenants, with his chosen people and with all of humanity. I find that the danger for me, however, is that I tend to discount or place less emphasis on the Old Testament portion of the reading than on the New. This is particularly true in the books that detail the Law, where I come across many passages that sound strange to my ears. Something like “And if a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife” (Genesis 22:16) will often cause me to “tune out” the entire passage and take a mental break until the next section, or until the New Testament portion. I know that shouldn’t be my response, because the entire Bible is God’s Word, and I need to take it all seriously, even if it may be harder to draw out lessons and applications from some sections than from others. The larger points I have been drawing from the side-by-side reading of Old and New have been different attributes of God, with the OT seeming to emphasize things like His majesty, righteousness, and glory while the NT demonstrates His grace and compassion.
Secondly, reading through the Law really gives a sense of how complex and all-encompassing God’s commands can be, and yet how simple and straightforward at the same time. The detailed regulations that are beginning to be laid out here in Exodus make me think “well of course nobody could keep ALL of these!” It isn’t just a matter of being overwhelmed by the number of laws, however. We can’t even follow God’s commandments when Jesus simplifies it to two! I know we aren’t there in the reading yet, but I keep being reminded of Matthew 22:37-40 “And he said to him ’ You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” These are two simple commands that have such a huge meaning for our daily lives that when they were laid out in detail and applied to the people of Israel, they made up the entire Law. I feel like that is helpful for me to remember as I read some of the more…obscure regulations that I may come across in the OT; these things may seem strange to a 21st century person like me, but they are what those two great commandments meant for the life of God’s people. It’s overwhelming what God asks of us, and without His grace and mercy, we’re all pretty much screwed.