About ten years ago, I was teaching my Sunday School class, and we discussed Lectio Divina. When we covered the subject, I had committed to reading the Bible in one year in chronological order. I had always wanted to read the Bible in such a way. I did not want to jump ship, but this other style of Bible reading intrigued me.
As a result, the following January, I started reading in the Psalms, using a modified form of Lectio Divina. I always tend to not follow the rules in the strictest of ways. Once I finished the Psalms, I continued with Proverbs and eventually reached Isaiah. Around the 20th chapter, I had to stop. Why read 4 or 5 verses about the curse on Moab? How can I take a verse or phrase from such a passage and apply it to my walk with God that day?
I moved on to Romans. When I reached the end of Revelation, I started in Matthew. At this point, instead of limiting myself to a few verses, I read an entire story. I would read the entire parable, the entire story of a miracle, or the entire story of the crucifixion. In this way, it might not be a phrase accepted as a mantra for the day, but a concept or principal that guided me.
Once I had completed Acts in this manner, I decided to tackle the prophets. Since I had gotten bogged down in Isaiah, I skipped over to Ezekiel. In my modified method of Bible reading, I made it through Malachi and decided to pick up where I left off in Isaiah, right in the middle of the curses.
It took a few chapters before it hit me. The principal had hit me in the minor prophets, but suddenly I realized how to read the curses.
Let’s look at Isaiah 34 for example. The entire chapter is about how God has lost His patience with all nations. Immediately, thoughts should enter your mind that God isn’t talking to the nations of that day, but he is talking to the nations of today. What similarities can be drawn to current events? With that in mind, focus of the verses 8 through 15. Isaiah focuses on one nation, Edom. Regardless of what is said in these verses, substitute your country with the name Edom. If we trust in God’s prophecies, all nations will vanish in the next world. We cannot hold our nation as sacred. It cannot save us. We may rely upon our nation to provide security, but that security is fleeting.
Read Isaiah 34:8-15 again. This time substitute Edom with your family name. Read it again and substitute Edom with your name.
Suddenly, this Old Testament passage, that many people attending church think has no meaning in the Christian world today, has great meaning. This passage brings us to our knees in confession of our sins. This passage brings us to our knees in praise to a heavenly father who sent His son into the world to save us. This passage brings us to our knees in thanksgiving when we believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ reigns on high and is our Lord and Savior. Through that belief, we know that our sins are washed as white as snow. What better way to start the day than to understand that God has cursed Edom, but saved us from the same fate.
The people that believe that the New Testament replaces the Old Testament don’t know God very well. Those that think that the God of the Old Testament is a God of anger and the God of the New Testament is a God of love don’t know God very well. Ananias and Sapphira died when they lied about giving everything. Their deaths were more from cheating God, both from their wealth and their lack of faith, than by their telling a falsehood. But that story is in the New Testament. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. Ergo, all of us deserve to die. Is that an angry God or a loving God? Neither and both. It is God. To understand God, you need to read all of the scriptures, again and again.
There are nuggets of a loving God throughout the entire Bible. You can also see Jesus throughout the entire Bible.
The key to making any portion of the Bible make sense to you in your life today is to make it personal. Almost every passage in the Bible can be related to some form of the Christian walk in the world today. We may not be armed with a slingshot and a few small stones like David, but we face giants just the same with puny weapons at our disposal. We hear the voice of God as Samuel did and confuse it with something else. And sometimes when our bank account is full, our home is well secured, and our healthy family is gathered close around us, we feel so confident.
What is the source of your confidence? Is it a strong government and large military presence? That’s when we need to read about those curses of the prophets. Is the source of your confidence your full bank account? That’s when we need to read about those curses of the prophets. Are you confident that you have a safe home? There seem to be more tornadoes now than ever in our history, this year especially, and the hailstorms are getting worse. Are you confident that whatever you can’t accomplish, your children will be able to carry on beyond what you have done? That’s when we need to read about those curses of the prophets.
All of the trappings of this world will be gone when we sit in the docks on Judgment Day. Pray that Jesus is your advocate before the judge. Only through Jesus can you be saved. Those are the thoughts, and that is my mantra, each time I read prophetic curses in the Bible.