Old Testament Biographies Were Written For Our
Learning, To Give Us Comfort And Hope
By David J. Stewart | June 2014
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
Our text verse from Romans 15:4 is an important Scripture, teaching us that everything which was authored in the Old Testament was put there by God to educate us, so that with PATIENCE and COMFORT we could have HOPE. Perhaps you've never considered Romans 15:4 in view of all the hundreds of Old Testament biographies authored by God. We are so blessed to have the incredible complete stories (factual life's testimonies) of so many people, particularly the saints.
The Bible not only tells us about their lives, but even their thoughts, and what was going on in their heart at the time. That's something that only God can do. Neither you nor I can read a person's mind nor look into their heart. It is awesome to be privileged to learn from the lives of saved people in the Old Testament. Whereas they couldn't see their hands in front of their face, we get to look back in hindsight with perfect 20/20 vision, because God Himself is sharing their life with us from His divine view. This is further evidence that the Bible is God's inspired Word, for no human author could tell us the incredibly personal details which God provides in the Scriptures.
—Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
We also get to see the irony, humor and awesome providence of God at work in the lives of hundreds of Old Testament saints. God has been very transparent concerning the lives of hundreds of His dear saints in the Old Testament, to encourage us today by sharing the details of their personal lives, even their horrible sins and failures, providing life-transforming details for our edification, so that we might with PATIENCE and COMFORT have HOPE. Thus, we learn to be PATIENT in waiting for God's hand to be seen working in our life. God is not mentioned even once in the book of Esther, yet we so wonderfully see God's hand at work as the reader. The life's lesson is plainly that we ought to trust the HEART of God when we cannot see the HAND of God.
In the life of Joseph we read about all his hardships. The story of Joseph is a story of riches-to-rags, and of rags-to-riches, and of riches-to-rags again, and of then back to riches. Joseph was beloved of his father, being the son of Jacob's old age and his only begotten son by Rachel, his one true love. Joseph's 10 half-brothers were jealous and hated him, casting Joseph into a pit. Joseph is sold into slavery and ends up in Egypt, working in Potiphar's house. One particular day when all the men are out of the house, Potiphar's wife makes sexual advances on Joseph, reminding him that her husband owns Joseph, which entitles her also to do as she wants with Joseph. Joseph flees her temptations and is falsely accused of attempted rape, and is put in prison for somewhere between 2-11 years.
In time, God afflicts Pharaoh with dreams, but he doesn't know what the dreams mean, so Joseph is brought from out of the prison to interpret Pharaoh's dreams. God reveals to Joseph that the dreams mean Egypt is going to enjoy 7 years of plenty and then 7 hard years of famine. So Pharaoh appoints Joseph as governor over all of Egypt, food is stored, and when the famine comes, Egypt is safe and has enough grain for the entire land, including all of Canaan. Joseph couldn't see what God allows us to see. We see how what seemed so bad and hopeless turned out for good in the Lord. We see how the wicked perished in their unbelief, and how the righteous ultimately prospered because of their faith in Christ, the Messiah.
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph suffered many tests, hardships, painful situations, temptations, doubts, sorrows, afflictions; and yet, we also see the silver lining in the cloud, the eternal blessings, the omnipotent hand of God at work behind the scenes at all times, and where faith in the Lord always leads. The Bible is so beautiful, brutally honest and yet so practical and filled with comfort and hope. Despite the sins, failures and shortcomings of the saints, we see that everything worked out for good.
Trust God When You Don't Understand God; This Is Faith, Which Pleases God
How do you think David felt when he got to Heaven and met Uriah, Bathsheba's husband whom he murdered to steal his wife? I cannot fathom this truth. I would think that Uriah would harbor eternal hatred against David for robbing him of his wife, life and opportunity to serve God. Some things only God can understand. I get upset when I think about the man whom God killed for touching the Ark Of The Covenant, to steady it from falling; whereas King David murdered Uriah and stole his wife, and David was allowed to live, marry Bathsheba, and enjoy her for the rest of his life. That sure seems like injustice to me. Is God unfair? No, our human understanding is limited, incapable of seeing all that God sees.
“As a blind man has no idea of colors, so we have no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things.” —Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
We see much such inequalities throughout the Bible. Do we put God on trial as the heathen world does? No, we trust the Lord, believing that He knows best, and in all matters where our human understanding cannot grasp something, we trust upon the omniscient Lord Who knows all things and is incapable of doing evil. The world won't trust the Lord for salvation, because they love sin, so instead that attack the Bible and continually speak evil of the things which they don't understand. God is a good God. Somehow, someway, every injustice must be made right by God. That's the whole reason Jesus Christ came into the world, that is, to balance the scales of justice. God's holiness demanded justice, but man could not pay the price for sins committed. So the sinless Lamb of God made the payment.
Remember that God has given to us all of the stories of the lives of the saints in the Bible to encourage us, so that through patience we might have comfort and hope from the Scriptures. I've just given you one example from the life of Joseph, but there are hundreds of precious biographies in the Old Testament; such as, Samson, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Noah, Rahab, Sarah, Rachel, Leah, Jonah, and who could ever forget the incredibly painful life of Job. Literally, God has shared the lives of these people and many more with us to encourage us, so that through patience we can have comfort and hope.
Noah literally lost everything he knew in life. Noah's world was destroyed. Everything Noah had entered with him onto the ark. When he got off the ark with his family, it was a lonely whole new world. God gave us exactly what we needed—a book of biographies showing how God worked in their lives, how each saint responded, and what the outcome was.
Patience, Comfort And Hope
I love Romans 15:4 because it has given me a whole new reason and desire to learn, read and study the lives of the Old Testament saints . . .
Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
Why patience? It is because life cannot be rushed. When Joseph was in prison, there is no doubt that he didn't want to be there. We read in Psalms 105:17-18, “He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron.” Joseph was laid in irons in prison, and his feet were hurt. Fetters are shackles for the feet or ankles. There are many situations in life that are worse than death. We learn patience from considering the life of Joseph. Joseph was 17 years old when he was brought into Egypt, and he was 30 when he was taken from prison to appear before Pharaoh, so Joseph could have spent anywhere from 2-11 years in prison. Joseph had to patiently wait for God's hand of deliverance.
Job surely didn't enjoy his losses, emotional trauma and horrible bodily pain. Although Job didn't curse God, he did curse the day he was born, as I think all men would in Job's circumstances. I dare not say that any man ever born was any better able to handle loss than Job. Job suffered greatly, and he didn't do anything to deserve it. There are wicked people who live entire lives of sin, like Hugh Hefner and Charlie Sheen, boasting of their sexual immorality. Sarah Silverman is a millionaire comedian, made wealthy by blaspheming the holy name of the Lord Jesus Christ and glorifying all manner of wickedness. Yet she lives in splendor. Job was a godly man, a decent man who eschewed evil, and yet he was turned over to Satan to be sifted as wheat.
It doesn't make sense does it? Why do the wicked prosper while the righteous are persecuted? These are the very themes of Psalms 37 and 73... the prosperity of the wicked. Psalms 37:7, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” Isn't that comforting? The Bible teaches us as Christians to patiently wait for God to work, and not to get worked up as we see wicked people prosper as we suffer. The wicked can only prosper during this earthly lifetime, but the righteous will be blessed and enjoy all of eternity.
God tells us to wait upon the Lord, and to have patience while waiting. From learning about the hardships, testings and lives of the saints through the Old Testament, we are able to relate to their situations in many ways. We have plenty of biographies from the Bible which can be applied to our lives. Through learning about their lives, we find COMFORT to give us HOPE. If they can make it, then so can we. If you've sinned, well so did David, even committing adultery and murder. God forgave David and he found reconciliation with God.
Samson was a woman's man, having sex with harlots (Judges 16:1). Samson got into much trouble by chasing women, ultimately causing him to have his eyes burned out of his head and enslaved by his bitter enemies (the Philistines) at the hands of the conniving beauty Delilah. There is much that we can all learn from the Old Testament lives of the saints. This ought to encourage you to listen and become much more familiar with the Scriptures, so we can relate to them and find comfort and hope as we patient endure the daily struggles of this problematic life. We see how sin ruined Samson's life, and caused the unnecessary death of thousands of people, including many Israelites who died because Samson wasn't leading them as their judge sent by God.
Time would fail me to mention all the heroes of the faith and courageous people; such as, Rahab who hid the Hebrew spies and helped God's people conquer their Promised Land in Canaan. If things worked out for good to the saints of the Old Testament, to those who trusted and obeyed God, then we have the same blessed hope today in 2014. This is the message of Romans 15:4. All things written aforetime were written for our learning, that with patience, we can find the comfort and hope that God will also work the same promises in our life. We are on the winning side in Christ. I am not an eloquent writer, but I can at least share with you the life-transforming truth of Romans 15:4.
God has been very transparent concerning the lives of hundreds of saints in the Old Testament, to encourage us by sharing the details of their personal lives, even their horrible sins and failures, providing explicit details for our edification, so that we might have COMFORT and HOPE, and learn to be PATIENT in waiting for God's hand to be seen working in our life. God is not mentioned even once in the book of Esther, yet we so wonderfully see God's hand at work as the reader.
My friend, if you are a born-again Christian you have inexplicable happiness and blessing to look forward to in eternity. Very few people ever find the narrow way that leadeth unto life the Bible says in Matthew 7:13-14. The reason why is because very few people ever understand that human effort has no part in God's salvation of man. There are an estimated 7 billion people alive on earth in 2014. Over 1,000,000,000 of them are trusting in the Catholic church and the sacraments of the false church to save them. None of them are saved who follow the teachings of the Catholic church, trusting in sacraments to be saved. Another 1,400,000,000 Muslims deny that Jesus is the Christ, trusting in their false religion of Islam and the evil Koran that denies Christ as the Son of God. Another 1,000,000,000 trust in Buddhism, Hinduism and other various false religions to save them. Literally, half the planet are trusting in some bogus religion to save them. Biblical salvation is NOT found in any religion; but rather, in a person—the Lord Jesus Christ!
Proverbs 3:5-7, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” God PROMISES to direct our paths if we fear the Lord, depart from evil, trust upon Him and learn not unto our own understanding, acknowledging God in all our ways by “SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES” as Jesus commanded in John 5:39.
We see the same patience at work in the life of Job, who suffered the loss of everything he owned. Job lost his precious children. Job lost his crops, servants and livestock. Job lost his health. Job lost his respect in the community. Job's friends tormented him with unjust criticism. Job's own wife told him to curse God and die. Yet, we see how everything worked out for good in the end. It was God's will for Job to be tested. No matter what hardships that we may be going through, we can relate to some of the Old Testament saints who went through similar situations. Job suffered horribly.
I challenge you my friend, whoever you may be, pick up the Old Testament and start reading it daily. Get you some Alexander Scourby DVD's of him reading the King James Bible. You can hear the entire Old and New Testament read together in about 78 hours! That's pretty great!!!
I love the book of Genesis, and the biographies of the great patriarchs who started it all. We find a consistent theme of God trying to generate godliness in an ungodly world. Amen! There is so much to be learned. Jacob's family was about as dysfunctional as they come. Rebecca (his mother) was manipulative. Isaac (his father) was stubborn. Esau (his biological brother) was worldly. Rebecca connived, deceiving Isaac to give the blessing to Jacob instead, her favorite son. Isaac preferred Esau, who cooked Isaac's favorite roasted and seasoned succulent deer meat (made just right the way Isaac liked it). Jacob was a mama's boy and stayed in the kitchen, baking cookies and holding onto mama's aprons. There was internal strife in the family.
Jacob also deceived his father, directed by his shameful mother. As a consequence of her actions, Rebecca never got to see Jacob alive again, nor his wives and grandchildren. Esau sought to murder Jacob, because he conned Esau out of his birthright and stole his blessing. Jacob was a scoundrel, a lying shady character who couldn't be trusted. What a mess. And then Laban, Jacob's uncle on his mother's side, cheat Jacob 10 times. Just as Jacob deceived his father, so also is now Laban and Leah deceiving Jacob, tricking him into thinking he's marrying Rachel instead. Can you image the disappointment and anger in Jacob's heart when he realizes that he has been cheated? That is the way of the ungodly world, to cheat and deceive others to get your way in life. Most companies are guilty of shady business practices, unethical advertising and shameful forked-tongue promotions with disclaimers a mile long. Hardly anything is truly upfront and honest anymore.
Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
You can make it my friend, I don't care who you are. We read of war, killings, rape, torture and every manner of hardship, temptation and evil in the Old Testament, but life still goes on! The $64,000 question is whose side are you on? Do you serve your master Satan, or do you serve the precious Lord Jesus Christ as your Master on the winning side? Satan has already lost the battle, it's just a matter of counting down to Armageddon, when the Devil is cast into the bottomless pit and bound in chains for 1,000 years. That time is coming very soon, very soon!!! That certainly gives us as Christians much comfort and hope to know that old smut-face is going to be locked away in chains, where he won't have any influence nor be able to hurt anybody. Hallelujah!
Everything written about the lives of Old Testament saints was authored by God for our learning, so that through patience and comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope. The Old Testament saints couldn't see what was ahead for them, but we have the blessing of reading the details of their life, even seeing their future (which they couldn't see at the time). The Holy Bible is incredible!!! By examining the lives of the saints in the Old Testament, we learn that things always work out for good in the end, because their are no losers in God's family. We are on the winning side in Christ Jesus!!! END
The Goodness Of God Leadeth To Repentance
(MP3, Dr. Hyles; true Biblical repentance defined)
“Speaking the truth in love...” —Ephesians 4:15
“This whole society is rotten and Godless. The wrath of God is upon America. Mark my word: if God’s Word be true, this nation is headed for the dust.” —Pastor Tom Malone (1971)
1st Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY
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