Dan & Steve have been good friends and neighbours for many years – the hole in the fence has been their own personal communication channel for all that time. Whether it be the plight of Norwich City, the value of the pound or the price of property, they like nothing better than “chewing the fat” and putting the world to right.………..
Dan – peering through their hole in the fence.
'HEY...don't throw that out Steve...I can use it - after all...one man's scrap is another man's treasure.'
'Why on earth would you want a piece of carpet remnant...it's not even square...more...trapezoid shape?'
'That's a big word for you Steve...but you're right, this my good man is going in 'the man shed'; I'll place it under the rocking chair, dulls out the sound of me relaxing!'
'It's alright for those who can relax – I've got heaps to do before I go back to work – still...no rest for the wicked Dan.'
'Except in the grave Steve.'
'Oh very good, here we go, I walked into that one, anyway you were going to tell me why the Old Testament isn't so old after all?'
'Well it still is old Steve, the events it speaks of go back about 6000 years, and if you just flick through the pages or look at the index you'll notice a whole lot of stuff being mentioned.'
'I know Dan, I had a rifle through the pages last evening; I hadn't heard of some things like Leviticus, Esther, Ezekiel, a whole load of book names that I can't remember – or pronounce – oh but I had heard of some of the folk who get mentioned – Samson, him with the long hair, Noah and his ark, Moses, Jonah who got swallowed by a big fish and I remember from Sunday School, David who fought that big chap...now what was his name...?'
'Goliath...David fought Goliath Steve, and won...against all odds because God was with him.'
'So there seems to have been some weird and wonderful stuff going on Dan, how does it all tie in with God or are they just stories and 'tall tales' strung together?'
'Well Steve, when you begin reading the New Testament, you'll often find references back to a lot that happened in that 'weird' Old Testament as you call it. The New Testament mentions Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah, the flood, Joseph, Moses, the period of the Judges, Kings of Israel, David, Joshua, Isaiah, Daniel and many other things. In fact the Old Testament is referenced throughout the New Testament in relation to so many things.'
'Like what Dan?'
'Like the birth of Jesus - his work, ministry, parables, miracles and rejection by the nation, the nation of Israel is mentioned and how God worked with them; there is also mentioned something that hasn't happened as yet – God's Kingdom that will fill the whole earth; so, plenty there Steve and the Old Testament serves as a reminder as to how God is, what he's like, how he works with and for people; it records so many things he has promised, that not only did happen later and throughout the New Testament, but things that have yet to happen when he sends Jesus back to the earth.'
'I'd better not throw that part away yet then Dan...sounds as if it could be an interesting read.'
'It is Steve, you see after the creation spoken of in Genesis – the first book of the Bible - the Old Testament became a record of God's relationship with mankind – you remember that he gave mankind the gift of life along with the opportunity to live in a good way in his presence, so how did that pan out? Well the Old Testament shows us, along the way we meet all kinds of people who responded very differently at times when faced with the reality of God.
It goes without saying Steve, that some came to believe and accept what the Almighty was all about, but many – even entire nations and races of people, chose to go their own way, and all that has developed into the way the world is today is simply a continuation of God's relationship with his creation – this really is the only way to satisfactorily understand the world around us, why we're here, the purpose of our existence, the turmoil in the Middle East, religion and so on and why the world is so broken.'
'So it's been like a huge stage Dan, like the plays I go and see, the entire history of the world has been enacted almost as it were in front of God – he's like the audience.'
'Actually Steve there is a passage in the Psalms that illustrates what you've just said, in Psalm 33 verses 13-15:
“The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.”’
'That's interesting Dan, I've never viewed history like that, I've just viewed it as a whole series of events that have been a part of mankind's progress throughout the ages...you know...his world...how he wanted to shape it.'
'Thing is Steve, although mankind has forged his own way throughout history, God has been in control and has always had a plan and purpose with the earth. If the Old Testament is about anything it's about the way in which God will ultimately have things the way he intended them, regardless of the mess things are in currently.
For a long time God worked closely with the nation of Israel, they became his special people, they became his witness to all of the nations around them and so the Old Testament centres on that part of the world and mostly about people connected with the nation.'
'So all those stories about battles, kings and all those prophets coming and going were tied in with God's dealings with the nation at the time – so why did Jesus's own nation reject him when he came Dan?'
'Well Steve, believe it or not, 400 years separate the Old and New Testaments; by the time we get to Jesus, the Jewish nation was a well-oiled machine when it came to religious worship - but their worship wasn't directed towards God. They had become very self-righteous about all the good they did, they neglected what it really was that God required of them – being only intent on doing things their own way Steve – you know how it is, none of us like being told that we're wrong. But this is exactly what Jesus told them, he warned them that God's judgments were going to come upon them because they were way off what God expected.
So Jesus became a threat to them, they knew who he was and what his message was all about but they didn't want him 'spoiling the party' so to speak, so they had to get rid of him – and so they tried to, by false accusations and getting the people behind them; they rejected the very man who had come and who would have been a great king over them.'
'So, their days were numbered Dan?'
'Sadly yes Steve – 40 years or so after Jesus rose from the dead and went to heaven, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans and for the next 2000 years or so the Jews underwent terrible persecution, that ultimately saw them going back into their own land at the end of the 19th century.'
'What happened to his followers Dan?'
'When Jesus rose from the dead, he commissioned the disciples or apostles to preach the Gospel and to baptise people – people who believe God and his promises, the early church was formed and pockets of believers sprang up, all sharing the same hope that Jesus would one day return to the earth and set up God's Kingdom of which they could be a part – that continues today Steve, people can read the Gospel message and if it's for them take it on board and prepare with others.'
'That sounds fair enough Dan, I think you said once, that it will be in Jerusalem that Jesus will reign from – it's certainly been a bone of contention for as long as I can remember and much longer – it's very rarely out of the news; I've got to go now Dan, but you mentioned a word again that you've mentioned before – baptism, maybe next time you can tell me all about that – but it is all very interesting – anyway see you Dan.'
'OK Steve...stay safe and next time baptism it is.'
To be continued