As we move deeper into the old testament you must force your mind to think in terms of good vs evil. Think of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Star Wars...whatever. It sounds silly but it will help; I promise. Let me explain.
The entire old testament is centered around two themes...Love & War. It is the longing of a loving creator God to have relationship with His creation. It is a war against the devil who wants to steal that relationship for his own selfish gain. The devil is primarily doing this to gain dominion and secondly to destroy man and "the seed" (Gen 3:15) that will strike his head. JESUS. The devil will stop at nothing to see that Jesus doesn't come to pass. This is the warfare of the old testament.
Now in the old testament the warfare is both spiritual and physical. The spirit world being God/devil...angels/demons. The physical world being man. So it is not just "evil forces" fighting "good forces". Man is caught right in the middle. Are you thinking Lord of the Rings? Good.
So why does man have to mess with all of this? Because man is the free will being that has dominion over the earth. So in the old testament just as the devil was using people and nations to further his plans of destruction, so God chose a nation and people to further His plan of life and redemption. Unfortunately the greatest cost in the old testament was bloodshed and loss of life. Man and animal. Remember creation suffers from sin too.
Now the reason I suggest getting your mind to think in terms of Lord of the Rings or something as such is because the way the earth and society was 3000+ years ago is way different than or world today. There are obvious differences of this in the physical realm. They had chariots/we have cars. They had primitive tools/ we have electric saws. This is nothing new to our thinking. But these huge differences were also true of the spirit world. So even though the old testament is real -not fairy tale- our modern minds have an easier time thinking in those terms. Most modern western people have never had any experience with the spiritual realm. It is totally foreign to them. Modern non-western countries and peoples still have quite a bit of interaction with the spirit realm because of certain beliefs and religions. Now times that that interaction by 1,000,000 and you have the old testament. There was very little, I mean minute separation between the spiritual realm and physical realm. So what exactly does that mean?
It means that the spirit realm was actually visible to the physical realm. Certain people actually walked and talked with God. Angels and demons interacted with people. These things were not unusual. Witchcraft, wizardry and sorcery were real things that were practice by most every ancient people group. Do you know that the Hebrew word for wizard comes from the root word "Yada" which means to know, to have knowledge, and to perceive and see. It is the same Hebrew word that described "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil". Blood sacrifice, both human and animal were practiced by almost every ancient people group. Rituals and patronage to gods was something that nearly every ancient people group participated in. Sexual deviation, pedophilia and zoophilia (bestiality) was some thing that was practiced by nearly ever ancient people group. Are you getting the picture? These were not just Bible things. The people of this time both pagan and righteous "saw" the spirit world. They regularly interacted with the spirit world. There was nothing hidden about whose side they were on if you will. There was only two choices good and evil.
So in this sense there was a greater degree of responsibility for the people of this time. You know the old saying "the more knowledge the more the responsibility". They could not pretend not to know because everything was out in the open. They saw all these things with their own eyes. The spirit realm was not hidden. So this means that the consequences of sin was actual death. Remember man chose sin, and the consequence of sin is death. Not because God wants you to die but because the devil does. Sin and death was never God's plan for His creation. He warned us not to do it but we did. Think...Lord of the Rings.
Finally in reading the old testament we need to steer clear of two major things.
1) That we don't just right the whole thing off as one big allegory or myth. People think it is just too hard in modern times to imagine the spiritual and physical world in such close proximity. Or the fact that there is a spiritual world at all. So people decide it isn't plausible for it to have been real and don't believe it. Well it was real. And funny enough one of the devil's biggest attacks in modern times is to get you to believe it was all just a myth. Do this...type "demon" into google, or go to your local bookstore to the witchcraft section to see the huge amounts of intense believe still today. This isn't just a christian thing.
2)People go to the other extreme and think the the ways of the old testament need to be how we operate in our physical world today. This is how in post biblical times we ended up with the horrors of the crusades or burning people at the stake. Wrong , wrong , wrong. Why?
JESUS! Now Jesus does not cancel out the existence of the old testament. The principles and truth of God in the old testament were fulfilled in the man Jesus. But along with Jesus and the Holy Spirit came a new way of doing things. For one, 3000+ years of old testament sin and separation from God has begun to bring separation between the spiritual world and physical world. This isn't to say that the spiritual world no longer exists by the time we get to the new testament. It surely did! Jesus and the Holy Spirit bring the principle of physical warfare and sacrifice to spiritual sense. We no longer fight against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. (Eph 6:12) We no longer sacrifice at the temple, Jesus has been the ultimate sacrifice. You no longer worship at the temple, you are the temple and your life is worship. Just the same is true today. The spirit realm is still in full swing. But modern humanity has pushed it into hidden places so we don't see as many manifestations as in the bible. But that is a whole other blog.
Here and now I want to focus on the old testament. I hope to show you that through the warfare and bloodshed there still remains a gracious, loving, just God. A God that longs for relationship. A God who will stop at nothing in that grace and love to see that ALL creation and humanity will have the choice of redemption and eternal life. Jesus. Remember that we ate the fruit. We wanted to know. What we choose was war and God has been fighting to save us from death ever since.
Continued in part two...click here.