I'd love to be able to write that Nahum changed my life. But I can't. It was an interesting read. The vividness of the prophecy is almost chilling. But was I instantly conformed to the image of Christ after reading it? No. I was enriched, but not overwhelmed.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a poster who asked why pastors never seemed to preach at length from the Old Testament. The Christmas Narratives, the Passion, Romans, the Sermon on the Mount... all these are "old favorites" for pulpit-dwellers. But Judges? Ezekiel? Nahum? Aside from a rare cameo verse, those books are hardly ever preached. The blogger wondered why that was? With all the richness of the Old Testament texts, why do pastors return to the Prodigal Son and the Romans Road time and again?
My response was pretty simple. Pastors don't preach the Old Testament because far too many don't know the Old Testament. We preachers enjoy working through the parables or mapping out Paul's missionary journies, but Isaiah is tough stuff to understand, let alone teach! Like everyone else, we get caught up in the idea that studying the New Testament is good use of our time and studying the Old Testament is something that is... well, time consuming and not too applicable to everyday life. And generally speaking, we're just plain wrong about that.
Jesus sure had a healthy respect for what we know today as the Old Testament. These 37 books give us the background which bring the Master's teachings new light. Not each will keep us riveted, perched on the edge of our seats, awaiting the next essential truth to fall from its pages. However being ignorant of these writings make it tough to really get the message of the New Testament.
We all tend to look at the Old Testament differently than we do the New. God seems so harsh at times. Everything is built around a nation of people which is foreign to us. So many of the pages are clogged with genealogies, strange laws and obscure prophecy. But it is here that we are given our initial glimpses of our Creator. It is here that the plan of salvation is foreshadowed. It is here that we see the ups and downs of real people trying to follow God. And it is here where we find the Law which we can never hope to keep perfectly. As Paul wrote, that Law was to drive us to Christ. But that's New Testament stuff. You probably knew that already.
I was amused last week to read the comments of Ralph that Genesis is the most read book of the Bible. The truth is that most of us feel really strange rifling through the Old Testament because we don't ever read it. We can find Psalms. After all it's in the middle of the book, right? But which comes first 1 & 2 Kings or 1 & 2 Chronicles? Is Nehemiah before Daniel or after? Is Obadiah before or after Nahum? And what about the book of Hezekiah?
So pick up your Old Testament. Deal with names like Jephthah and Nimrod. Work with places named Timnath Serah and Bezer. And revel in the faith of Abraham, the rise and fall of Solomon, the hardships of Isaiah and Hosea, the triumphs of Moses and Elijah, and the life of a man after God's own heart. Don't be ignorant of what God made sure was preserved for our benefit.
And if you're still looking for the book of Hezekiah, you can stop now.