God is unchanging and while the Old Covenant is over and we are in the New Covenant the ways in which he deals with his people have not changed. One of the great benefits from reading the Old Testament is that we can learn from the lives of the Old Testament saints how God deals with us today. Their faith looked forward to the 1st coming of Christ, our looks back to it and forward to the 2nd coming but they were still human and God was God and really the thousands of years that have passed since their times has changed nothing in the basic principles of how God deals with his children.
Lesson 1: Predestination
In the Old Testament there is not a single recorded case of a man approaching God of his own accord. Always it is God who takes the initiative. God came to Abraham in a vision, Moses in a burning bush, Gideon in the person of Jesus Christ, David through his prophet Samuel, the Jewish race out of all the other nations of the earth and so on. The history of the Old Testament is the history of God choosing his people not for any good in them but for his own will and purpose.
In Romans 9 Paul summarizes this doctrine using the example of Jacob and Esau: “Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9 v 10 – 13)
_ There are many people who would describe Christianity as a restriction on life and on a certain level they have a point. The Bible does lay out a standard of living that is partly a list of don’ts: don’t get drunk, don’t worship other gods, don’t respond to violence with violence, don’t have sex before marriage, don’t gossip, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t be lazy, don’t give way to sin, etc. And if there wasn’t enough the Bible also lays out a list of does: be obedient to Christ, be pure, be holy, love God, love others, do good deeds, give cheerfully, go to church, be encouraging, rebuke error, rejoice in God, pray, read the Bible, take communion, etc.
In a certain way it is of no surprise that people view Christianity often as a prison, a religion that limits choice, stops people having ‘fun’, narrows the options down and chains people to an outdated morality. But, and this is a big but, the reality is completely different. Christianity doesn’t enslave it frees, obedience to Christ is not a restriction it is life in all its fullness, denying ourselves to follow Christ is not a chain but a hammer that breaks chains in two.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
John 8 v 34