Learning to Love It
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Though I had wanted to travel to Israel for at least 20 years, I thought I would never be able to go. And because I live my life with little expectation of things (probably a safety mechanism), did not have many expectations before I went to the Land the first time in late 2016. Of course, sailing on the Sea of Galilee like my Savior did, was wonderful! But what really pleased me was the sites that made the Old Testament absolutely come alive.
Nowhere more than Mount Carmel where Elijah took on the prophets of Baal, calling on God to reign down fire, AND... GOD... DOES. I mean, standing on the hillside, I could picture the creeps coming up by the drove, ready to best Elijah's 'god', when the God of the Universe showed himself mighty. Wow. [I Kings 18, to read: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+18%3A20-40&...]
Did you see the humor in Elijah's taunt? ha!
Then there was the beautiful area in the Jezreel Valley where God gave Gideon a new name ... yes indeed where God saw in Gideon what he could not believe possible in himself, and told him so. Gideon was kinda hiding in fear and God spoke to him, addressing him as a warrior-whaaat? God is like that; he always sees what we are meant to become even when we do not. [Judges 6, to read: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges%206%3A11-24&...
How about EnGedi, the rocky caves/now park preserve where the hunted David bested the hunter King Saul? History tells us that David probably wrote many of the psalms, the songs and poetry he wrote to God in this area of Israel. I saw the date palms, hyrax, ibex (sleek, goat-like animals), and limestone as far as the eye can see in either direction ~ mindful that David viewed the same things as he wrote, with almost-visible waves of desert heat in the near distance playing tricks on his eyes. [1 Samuel 24, to read: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+18%3A20-40&...]
Indeed, seeing for myself the settings for the Psalms, the topograpy for the contest with Baal, and Mt. Moriah where Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac ... also the same area as today's hotly contested Temple Mount, has made me more desirous to grasp the writings of the Hebrews, what we call the Old Testament.
To get us started, let's establish a basic framework on which to pin our understanding of the 39 different books of the Hebrew Bible.
-It is a written record of the history of Israel, covering about 1440 B.C. to 400 B.C., though it is not ordered chronologically. We will start by examining a categorical breakdown of these 39 books, and then step in a little closer.
The Law of Moses includes the first five books of the Old Testament, also called the Torah or Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. [Have you noticed Moses' humor, by the way? Read Numbers 12.3, bearing in mind that he wrote the book of Numbers, link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+12.3&versi...]
The Prophets - which include Joshua, Judges, I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel + 12 minor prophets
- which include Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and I & II Chronicles
-The Protestant church accepts identically the same Old Testament books as the Jews had, and as Jesus and the apostles accepted. Note: the Roman Catholic Church, since the Council of Trent in 1546 also includes another 14 books of the Apocrypha.
Next, we will delve into some of the contents of the Old Bible, as my mama called it, to see its richness, and the mighty God its pages portray; and if you do not already, you will learn to love it! Because
his word is a light to show us the way to go.