Today’s Reading: Romans 15
In today’s reading the apostle Paul is about to tell us how legit the Old Testament is. We are going to be given a reason why we should think larger than 260. The New Testament has 260 chapters that we are reading through together. But we don’t have to stop there! The Bible has 929 other chapters that also have purpose. As Paul tells us, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope” (Romans 15:4, NIV).
The “everything was written in the past” is defined as the Old Testament narrative—the Old Testament stories. The 929 chapters beyond the 260.
But Paul is saying these are not “just” stories. These are “our stories.” Paul is telling us to take notice of people’s stories in those 929 chapters. There is wisdom and instruction in them for our lives. Since we know not every story in those chapters end with “they lived happily ever after,” we need them as reminders and warnings not to let their stories become our stories.
Always remember, we don’t have to experience something to gain wisdom and understanding. That saying, “Experience is the best teacher”? That isn’t completely true. I don’t need to get on drugs or get a DUI to know that those things are bad for me. Instead evaluated experience is the best teacher. And many times our best evaluating comes by observing and learning about what others have gone through.
Paul is telling us that the stories in the Old Testament are not just stories to read, they are stories to heed. The Old Testament gives us what others experienced and asks us to evaluate and to receive from them wisdom for personal growth and instruction and to avoid failures and even train wrecks. Christian author, the late R. C. Sproul got to the real problem of why we don’t make those stories our stories:
Here, then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.
We can find stories for every circumstance we may face. There are Old Testament stories of adultery and immorality, of losing a child, a wife, a friend. There is the story of going bankrupt. There are stories of betrayal, false accusations, and getting through them. There are stories of standing strong against temptation and saying no to sexual immorality, as well as stories of those who gave into sexual temptation and the consequences that followed. We find stories of how to be an amazing witness in a very difficult, ungodly environment. We get to see people’s decisions from beginning to end. All there so we can learn. Paul is saying that we need to read the 929, that they are there for us to take note of, to learn from, to value.
You have a bad neighbor situation? There is help in the Old Testament for how to handle that. Proverbs 16:7 says, “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” How do you fix the bad-neighbor situation? Please God now and make it His responsibility.
Some people say, “I just wait to hear the voice of God speak to me.” He did speak to you—in the Scriptures. If you have not been faithful with what is clear, why would He continue to speak?
You’re doing well by taking the 260 journey, but remember also the 929. Each time you read an Old Testament story, say to yourself, “These are stories for me. The 929 is legit.”