Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Glimpses of Grace: Study of the Old Testament Law

This past spring, I worked through a study on the Old Testament Law with a wonderful small group of ladies. It was a great time of deeper understanding of this mysterious part of the Bible. I don't want this study to just sit on my hard drive, so I thought that I would share it with you. I hope that you can use this study in a group setting or as an individual.
This blog will serve as a wrap-up and introduction space. I'll wrap up the material from the previous week while introducing the next week. I am looking forward to all of the amazing things that God will do through our time together!

Introduction To Glimpses of Grace

How often do you go to the Old Testament Law for encouragement and wisdom? How do you typically read passages about dietary laws or ceremonial cleansing for someone suffering from leprosy? Or do you read those passages at all? Although all Christians believe that the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers are Scripture (and therefore important), they are books that we rarely use and almost never turn to in our regular quiet times.
For Israelites, the laws were meant to have memories attached to them. They would see the priests lay their hands on the bull on the Day of Atonement. They would smell the burning of sacrifices. They would tell sick relatives goodbye after the priest declared them unclean, knowing that they may never see them again. They would hear crowds gathering to stone an adulterer and his mistress. They would feel hunger pangs when they couldn’t eat the only animal that they had trapped, simply because it was considered unclean. We read the Law, but it wasn’t meant to be understood as mere words on a page. The Law was intended to be lived.
 You’ve probably read Psalm 19:7-11 before, but have you ever read it specifically applying it to the Old Testament Law? This is what David was describing when he said:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
C’mon, admit it. When you read those verses, dietary restrictions and laws for handling household mold are not the particular verses that come to mind. Like me, you probably think about the Gospels or the epistles as sweet and true, but the Law? Really? I don’t typically experience the kind of feelings that David describes when I read the Law, but apparently, it is possible.
Just because we are no longer bound to keep the Old Testament Law, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t continue to offer amazing truths! Let’s step into the original hearers’ shoes and try to mine out some of the wonderful things that God has to offer us in these hard-to-understand passages. The Law is certainly not an exception when Paul tells Timothy:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training for righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Do you believe that? Do you believe that the Old Testament Law has something (many things, really) to say to you? Do you believe that God is still speaking through His Word, all of it?
Every passage of Scripture fits into the story of God’s plan to redeem His people forever. The Law is no different. It will be very important that we understand the law in relation to the incredible story of God’s plan to redeem His people. Honestly, this is not going to be easy. For many people, this is a very new way to understand Scripture. But you are going to love it by the time this study is over!
Here is our format for this study:
·        On the first day, we will read the passage for the week. After reading the passage, we are going to take some time to be honest about our preconceptions and assumptions when we read the particular law. We all bring cultural and familial beliefs to our quiet times, but when we’re honest about them, they lose some of their power and we are freed to hear the truth.
·        On the second day, we’re going to start to put ourselves in the original hearer’s shoes. We’ll look at some of the historical realities that the original hearers may have taken for granted. We’ll consider what that law would cost the hearers for them to apply them. How would obeying this law change their lives for the better or the worse? What would this law do to impact the hearers’ everyday lives.
·        On the third day of each week, we’ll begin to see how the passage that we’re studying relates to the Scripture that came before it. How does this passage graciously answer the problems created by sin?
·        On the fourth day, we’ll turn our attention to how this passage relates to the rest of the Old Testament. How does this gift of grace develop through Israel’s history?
·        On the fifth day, we’re going to see how this gift of grace surfaces in the New Testament. How does Christ give us the same gift that we got a glimpse of from reading the Law?
·        During our group time each week, we will spend some time experiencing the passage personally. We will discover the amazing applications that the passage has to offer once we have a better, more thorough understanding of its meaning and importance. It’s going to be so much fun when we truly get a glimpse of God’s grace to us!
 In this study we will look at seven gifts that God gives through the Old Testament Law:
It won't be easy, but it will be so good! Please join me!

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