Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is one of the greatest novels, and for good reason. Melville writes in such a way that you have to stop just to marvel at the way he crafts a sentence. Even Pulitzer-Prize winning author, Marylinne Robinson, is left without many words when describing Melville,
“What can we say? He had a gift.”
Yet, to read Moby-Dick is to encounter many new areas of knowledge that appear tangential or skippable. There are chapters that cover biology, geography, nautical intricacies, and more information about whales and the use of whales in the 19th century than you might imagine.
It is said, if you want to learn about 19th-century sewer systems, read Les Misérables, if you want to know all there is to know about whales, read Moby-Dick.
Yet, while in the middle of reading, it may seem tangential, the details all serve a purpose—Melville is driving you toward a final battle with the White Whale, and one cannot appreciate the magnitude of that battle, in full, without first going on his instructional journey.
In the same, yet even more majestic and glorious way, is the use and value of the Old Testament.
When one reads through the Old Testament, inspired as it is by God Himself, one often needs to stop just to marvel at the words and the One they describe—his might, his mercy, his mystifying patience—his character.
What can we say, He is a gift.
Yet, to read the Old Testament is to encounter many new areas of knowledge that might appear tangential or skippable. There are chapters on genealogy, indices of laws, detailed descriptions of movements of people, lengthy poetry and prophecy—instructions we may not fully understand.
Yet, when “reading through the Bible,” while some parts may seem tangential, they do serve an ultimate purpose. God, through his authors, is driving you toward His Christ—and one cannot appreciate the magnitude of His life, death, and resurrection, in full, without first going on this instructional journey.
This journey is one I started while in seminary and it is where I learned my most important discovery: I absolutely love and treasure the Old Testament.
Last year around this time, I preached a message in Midwestern Chapel I called “The Most Important Discipline I Learned in Seminary,” which followed from my 2017 message "The Most Important Doctrine I Learned in Seminary.”
This year, I returned to this theme with “The Most Important Discovery I Learned in Seminary.” For this discovery of my love for the Old Testament proved (and still proves) to be one of the greatest sources of joy, comfort, correction, and illumination I have found in living the Christian life.
Using the Apostle Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 10:11, I aimed to show:
- The Old Testament was written for us to see God’s character
- The Old Testament was written for us to read God’s instructions
- The Old Testament was written for us to see God’s Christ
To hear the entire message with further explanation along with my suggestions for how to put this discovery into practice, you can watch this recording from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary & Spurgeon College.