Our children’s connect group lessons bring us to Israel’s first King. As we continue through the Old Testament learning story after story, one major question comes to mind. In reading and learning all these historical stories of a nation that rebelled against God and chose its own path, what is the purpose? What is God trying to teach us through giving us the Old Testament?
The New Testament is filled with application. You could spend a lifetime studying the life of Jesus alone in the Gospels, and you would be better off for it. Then there are epistles and letters written on Christian living and how to have godly character. Many sermons you hear are taken from the New Testament passages that guide us on how to live like Jesus and become a disciple of Christ—and all for good reason. We are called to be disciples and make disciples. This is our purpose, and it leads us to bring glory to God (which is the very reason we were created). So why spend months and even years in the children’s ministry (with a 3 year curriculum) teaching Old Testament stories and passages?
The Old Testament is where we learn about the character and nature of God. Without the foundation of the Old Testament, it is impossible to fully understand who God is and what He desires from us. It is in the Old Testament that we learn about the fallen nature of man. Sin has entered creation and order is broken. The relationship between God and man has been severed and restoration needs to take place. We are given the law in the Old Testament, which reveals how the sinful nature of man is incapable of creating that restoration needed in and of ourselves.
We can read about godly living and character, but it isn’t until we study the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that we truly know what God’s character is like. The God who creates, the God who provides, the God of mercy, compassion, forgiveness and love; the God who shows up and is present and actively involved in the lives of his people over and over again. This is the God we need to know. This is the God we are called to follow and become like. This is the God we are told to put our hope, faith, and trust in. Without studying the Old Testament, which teaches us who he is and how he relates to his people, it is near impossible to know how to live the way he desires and calls us to live.
This week in the children’s department we read about the Israelites, who after having years of judges rule the nation, beg for a king. Every other nation around them had kings, so they figured it must be the best way to run a nation. God had put people in leadership positions over them throughout the years and yet they still desired something different than what He had set up for them. They still desired someone to rule over them and make their laws and decisions for them. They were not all wrong. The Israelites did need someone to rule over them. They did need someone to come and lead them. Someone to put their hope and trust in. Of course, God knew from the beginning that it was not an earthly king that would be able to fulfill this role for them, but he decided to give them what they asked for.
We teach Old Testament passages and stories to the children to help them know the God who created them, loves them, and knows what is best for each and every one of them. It is when we learn about who God is and the unchangeable nature of his character that we are able to fully understand his desires for our lives, and to put our trust and hope in him alone, and to live in a way that brings him the most glory.