Understanding the Old Testament

Adam and Eve

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

When I was a baby Christian, more than 40 years ago, I read the New Testament straight through and found myself agreeing with everything it said. The New Testament seemed to be all about love and mercy and forgiveness. Who could quarrel with any of that?

Then I bravely set about reading the Old Testament, and never made it out of the Pentateuch. (The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.) I didn’t understand a lot of it, and it was frankly torpedoing my faith. So I stopped.

Not until years later did I learn what I believe is one of the keys to understanding the Old Testament. It’s all about trust.

So let’s start with the story of Adam and Eve. Now I don’t care whether you believe this story is history, allegory, myth, parable, or fable. The story teaches a very important truth.

God gave Adam and Eve one, and only one, rule: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:16-17) And He also explained the consequences of disobedience: “you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

Then along came the serpent probing for weakness, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)

Eve knew that the fruit of only one tree was forbidden, but she misremembered God’s one rule, because she said: “God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” (Genesis 3:2-3) However, God said nothing about touching it.

So the serpent sowed the seeds of doubt: “You surely will not die!” (Genesis 3:4) At this point I imagine the serpent touching the fruit to prove his point. Then he added temptation to doubt: “You will be like God.” (Genesis 3:5) And Eve was lost.

Eve trusted the serpent instead of God, and she ate. (Genesis 3:6) Then Adam trusted Eve instead of God, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6) Thus, Adam and Eve failed their lesson in trust. And they eventually died, just as God said. But more importantly, they were separated from God’s presence in the Garden (Genesis 3:23-24), which was their spiritual death.

So began mankind’s lessons in trusting God. There would be many more.

Questions to ponder or discuss: What are some of the doubts and temptations we face today? How do we overcome them?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

My book, Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15), is available on Amazon.com as either a print book or a Kindle e-book. Here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074MVHVHP Read Chapter 1 (pdf format)



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