(By Theanna Joyce)
Do you ever avoid the Old Testament? Sigh and skim through it when it comes up in your reading plan? Or ignore it altogether and focus on the “good parts” that are about Jesus and grace and compassion? If I’m being honest, I do too. The Old Testament is hard: filled with genealogies and rules, difficult passages, and confusing words.
We typically think of the OT as the Testament that shows God's judgment, while the NT shows His grace. But if we skip the OT, we are missing out! Although we do see so much judgment in Genesis (the judgment of Cain, the flood, the tower of Babel, etc.), we also see so many instances of God's compassion and love.
While reading Genesis, I was overwhelmed by the many ways God chose to reveal Himself — the way He wrestled with Jacob, calmed and provided for Hagar, gave Leah children when she was not loved. I see a God who cared deeply for His creation.
And then in Exodus, He calls out to Moses; He tells him His name and directs him to rescue His people. I see a God whose heart is eager to save and provide for His people.
And what is Leviticus but a revelation of God's holiness and the steps by which His people could please Him? I see a God who wants His people to walk beside Him.
What is Numbers but a testament to God's faithfulness? I see a God who keeps His word.
And what is Deuteronomy but the very hand of God reaching out and calling His people to come and follow Him? I see a God who is ready to bless His people.
This is the God we serve — hallelujah!
It's so easy to forget the wonder of God, to forget the magnificence of who He is and His plan for all of creation. A quick glance at Isaiah 55 shows the character and compassion of our LORD.
Isaiah 55:8-9 reads: "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.' This is the Lord’s declaration. 'For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"
This verse is a beautiful reminder of the grandeur of our God, and the preceding verse shows us how God's ways and thoughts are higher than our own.
"Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, so he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will freely forgive" (Isaiah 55:7 emphasis added).
How are God's ways higher than ours? His thoughts? It is in any number of ways, yet especially, it is in His compassion. The compassion of our God is far too much for our minds to comprehend; He calls the wicked one, not in wrath, but in earnest desire for her to repent that she might experience His forgiveness.
Today, may we return to the Lord, kneel before Him, and receive the compassion that He wants so immensely to shower on us. May we raise our hands and hearts in worship of His ways and His thoughts and praise Him for His compassion and all the ways He has revealed Himself to us.