I have a confession to make. I typically do not enjoy reading the Old Testament. Its not that I find it dreadfully boring or anything. That's not the case at all. Frankly, I find it rather depressing. Failure and judgment often seem to be overriding themes. My merciful, gracious God of the new testament, shows the justice and holiness of His person in the old testament, and that is one of the reasons I know I must keep reading. Understanding, or attempting to understand, my God's holiness causes me to stagger at the magnitude of His mercy.
There is one other reason that I struggle with the old testament. I have experienced the Christian life of duty rather than devotion, of law rather than love, and honestly some people live like they must make a choice between Jesus and joy. I always kind of pictured them as "old testament-ish" people. Then these last few days, I dove into the O.T. And Joel and Micah showed me the heart of O.T. saints. Joel tells the people to "rend" their hearts and not their garments and to "return to the Lord." Then today, Micah told me to "do justice, and to love kindness (or steadfast love) and to walk humbly with your God." That was what God required of them before their thousands of sacrifices.
It made me start to think that just like today, God's people then had their Pharisees, but there were also just genuine people who loved their God. So what was the difference? They had a better grasp on the cost of sin. I have a friend who has been reading the O.T., and it .hit her that every time someone sinned, they had to sacrifice a piece of their wealth to atone for it. She asked what we would live like if every time we sinned, we had to pay $100. Wow! I have to admit, I'd think a whole lot more before I sinned. What a shame that the blood of Christ is worth less to us than a little cash.