Too often we forget how much the Old Testament can minister to our desperate hearts, and we miss out if we don’t sit with the truths it brings. In times when it is clear that man cannot save himself, I am comforted to know that the serpent’s head will be crushed, that God works what others meant for harm for good, that God can set free those long stuck in captivity, and he can stop a plague whenever he pleases. These are truths packed into just the first two books of the Bible.
I am finding solace in Judges as people continually choose what is right in their own eyes, leaving slaughtered daughters and cut-up concubines in their wake. How are these monstrous acts consoling? You should be asking that question, but hear me when I say, “It reminds me that the horror in the headlines of today is no worse than long ago yesterday; life continues to move on, and God outlasts the terror.”
If there was ever a biblical refrain that describes the state of modern-day first-world countries, it is people doing and chasing after what is right in their own eyes. This is no new pitfall for humanity. There is nothing new under the sun, and the whole world is fallen: America, the Roman Empire, and ancient Israel. We may have running water and 400 channels, but the deceptive heart of man is pulling the same tricks.
The Old Testament encourages me not to fear in the face of tragedy, death, and disease. Among its crooked judges and licentious kings, there were people who chose light. The beloved story of Ruth and Boaz begins with the line, “In the days when the judges ruled…” They were living stories covered with redemption, in times of famine and despair.
There were prophets who rose against crooked kings, spoke truth, and called others out of darkness. Isaiah stood against Ahaz; Elijah dueled with Jezebel and her prophets; Micaiah proclaimed judgment for Ahab and Jehoshaphat; and Daniel stood faithful in the grip of Assyrian captivity.
Life has been upended in multifarious ways for the majority of people this year. Health has been threatened, jobs and businesses lost, and we’ve been told again and again how unprecedented it all is. So the call is before us, those chosen to live in such a time as this, to be a godly people who rise against injustice, speak truth, and offer hope. In these days when public opinion rules and social media algorithms thrust us into echo chambers, we can rise from the despair with an invitation to unity—an invitation to know and love Jesus.
Let’s take a look back and see how faithful God is and always will be; a look forward with hope and comfort that there will be a day with no more sorrow or pain; and a look up to Jesus the Author and Perfecter of our faith who will finish what he began in his brothers and sisters still living in a broken humanity.
Jesus is the point and purpose of the Old Testament. In Luke 4:18-19 we see Jesus using the Old Testament to illuminate who he is and what he came to earth to accomplish. Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1. This is the verse I hold tight to when the sinister seems to be lurking in the shadows and sorrow threatens to overwhelm my soul. It reminds me of who Jesus is, what he does, and how one day all things will be made right by him.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,Isaiah 61:1-3
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
The Old Testament proclaims how God initiated the redemption plan that Jesus came to accomplish. The bringer of good news, the one who can bind up a shattered heart, the liberator of all those held in captivity by evil oppression—this is Jesus. This is hope.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;Isaiah 53:5-6
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Jesus is the bringer of peace! He bore our iniquity and made us righteous! That truth is right there in the Old Testament. Now we—his beloved, healed, and freed—must rise to the demands of our time. We, his people, empowered by his Holy Spirit, get to partner with him in the work of bringing light to the darkness.
Chara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She is an adjunct professor, holds an MSEd, and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is the host of the podcast The Bible Never Said That . Her words have appeared at Christianity Today, Crosswalk, (in)courage, and The Huffington Post. You can find more from Chara on Facebook and Twitter.