THE OLD TESTAMENT — GOD’S LOVE LETTER TO US
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’
Our Church Book Discussion Group read and dissected The Bible Jesus Read by Phillip Yancey. Of course the bible Jesus read was the Old Testament.
I am sure we will all agree that the New Testament is easier to read than the Old Testament. So the question is — Is The Old Testament Worth The Effort? I think reading the Old Testament takes a lot more concentration. The two main barriers to reading the Old Testament is: #1 It doesnt’ always make sense and #2 It seems to offend our sensabilities. There is so much violence and moral decadence. Sounds like our world today doesn’t it? Therefore about 3/4’s of the Bible goes largely unread.
It is easy to let our minds wander when we read the Old Testament. It is a history so we can better understand the New Testament. God is the one who created Adam, who gave a promise to Noah, who called Abraham and introduced himself by name to Moses.
The Old Testament portrays God as a father. Also like a lion, a lamb, an eagle or a mother hen, a judge, a king but also a shepherd.
When we look back on God’s Covenant with the Jews, it was like a love story. God chose them not because they were stronger or morally superior. He chose them because he loved them. Like any star struck lover, he wanted a response from them. The very First Commandment is ‘Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your strength.’ But God doesn’t really want to COMMAND us to love Him. He wants us to love Him of our own free will. That’s what we would want of a lover. We can’t, nor would we want to, make someone love us.
In the Old Testament we discover a rich tapestry of encounters with God. As one theologian suggested, it is not like reading someone else’s mail. It is our mail as well. You cannot go wrong personalizing God. He is not a blurry figure living somewhere in the sky. He enters into people’s lives, messes with families, shows up in unexpected places and calls people to account.
Most of all God loves us.
As a side note: Our Book Discussion Group meets about every two weeks. We take a break whenever we feel it is necessary. We won’t be meeting the closer it gets to Christmas. We collectively agree on a book to read. Sometimes it is theological. Sometimes it is uplifting and encouraging. Sometimes it runs in the vein of a novel. Jenn Haag provides us with the books at no cost to us. We can then keep them or pass them on. So if anyone thinks they might be interested in joining us, we meet on a Monday afternoon at 1:30, usually at Pat Benke’s.