March 20th, 2018

Old things can be valuable

By Submitted Article on November 25, 2017.

Old and new

Second of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Although humans are attracted by new things, they still love some old stuff. Wine and meat are matured for optimum tastiness (Luke 5:39).

North American jerk meat and South African “biltong” originated from the need to preserve meat for several months before there were refrigerators. Dried meat and fruits helped to keep people alive on long wagon trips, and in war time.

Softwood trees grow for 30-plus years, and hardwood trees for 60-plus years, before they are harvested. The older the tree is, the more valuable its wood becomes. Logs meant for furniture are usually aged for 10-plus years before they are cut up.

Antique furniture and old paintings achieve high prices thanks to their age. Many museum exhibits are artifacts from the far-off past. The older their findings are, the more excited geologists, archeologists and paleontologists become.

Seeing an old elephant bull with massive tusks is a rare opportunity for wildlife tourists. So are kudu bulls with four-curl horns, and massive grizzly and polar bear males.

Old is also good for Bible manuscripts. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, archeologists and theologians were excited. These scrolls included a copy of the Hebrew Bible that was 1,000 years older than those they had. Scholars were amazed that the younger and older copies were almost identical, proving the meticulous care with which Bible copies were made by hand for centuries.

The followers of Jesus were emboldened by the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah which were literally fulfilled in Christ. When Christ ascended to heaven and the Spirit descended on believers, the New Testament had not been written yet; therefore, believers drew strength from the old Hebrew Bible.

Even today, Christianity draws living water from the old well: there are so many enlightening and uplifting messages in the Old Testament. When the Samaritan woman drew water from Jacob’s Well – 1800 years old then – it demonstrated how we should drink from the Old Testament.

Jesus often referred to images from the Hebrew Bible. He compared himself to bread from heaven (John 6), to water from the rock (John 7), to the light of the column of fire (John 8 and 9), and to the Good Shepherd (John 10, Ps. 23). He said that not one letter of the Old Testament will be changed, because he had not come to destroy but to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 6:17-18).

In the Bible, old people like Abraham and Moses played important roles. Ps. 92 promises, “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing.”

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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