I have the incredible privilege of having been asked to proofread the entire biblical text of the New King James Version of the Bible for one of my freelance clients, a publisher, who is putting out a new study Bible this year.
I know — pretty stinking incredible, right?
It’s a project I feel so humbled and excited to be part of. I am so loving it.
But one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve worked my way through the Old Testament is how heavy it makes my heart. Everywhere you turn in the pages of the Old Testament, all kinds of wickedness happens left and right. Brothers kill and betray and turn on each other. Daughters trick their fathers into sexual sin. Husbands lie about their wives. Not to mention the way nations war at the drop of a hat.
The violence, deception, and general brokenness of humanity, written so plainly all over the pages of the Old Testament, hurts my heart.
But something else about the Old Testament has been hurting my heart, too, and that’s the onerous burden of the law. Read through the Pentateuch — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy — at a single, continuous stretch, and you’ll find law upon law, statute upon statute, written and repeated over and over, again and again.
And these aren’t simple laws, either. The law of God as given to the people of Israel is rich and complex, with layer upon layer and contingency upon contingency. I can’t help wondering how Israel possibly remembered it all. It makes my head spin.
It also makes me feel like I’m sinking in a very thick lake of molasses.
It’s just impossible. It’s so nuanced — it almost feels like you can barely lift your feet or turn from left to right without worrying whether you’re up the law correctly or breaking it.
And then the other night, as I was reading through those pages and sinking ever so slowly into that murky mire of despair with all its tentacles gripping me, my thoughts (thankfully) turned to Jesus. And it struck me for perhaps the very first time in a truly gutteral, known-in-the-depths-of-my-heart kind of way what the precepts of Christianity have been teaching me all along:
We could not fulfill the law, and so Jesus fulfilled it for us.
The coming of Jesus fundamentally changes everything. God hasn’t changed, nor was Jesus a different representation of who God really is. But our relationship with God has changed now because of Jesus. The way we relate to him and the way he relates to us has changed — all because of Jesus.
And I am just so thankful.
Along similar lines, this morning I was sitting by the pool outside our Captiva condo listening to a Phil Wickham album called “Singalong” and was struck by these words in the final song on the album:
The earth was shaking in the dark,
All creation felt the Father’s broken heart,
Tears were filling heaven’s eyes,
The day that true love died.
When blood and water hit the ground,
Walls we couldn’t move came crashing down,
And we were free and made alive,
The day that true love died.
The walls we couldn’t move came crashing down, and we were free and made alive.
That’s what has happened because of Jesus. On this side of the Old Testament, where we now live, we have been given freedom and life.
I am so, so thankful for this. I’m thankful for the grace-filled, tender, always-full-of-growth relationship with God that is now possible for us to experience because of Jesus.
What about you? What is it like to hold the gift of that fundamental shift in the way you can relate to God because of Jesus?