My journey with the Old Testament...

Started by AudioArtist, October 14, 2010, 09:23:52 am

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AudioArtist

Hello everyone! It's good to have found this forum again.

I now think having an understanding and deep awareness of the Old Testament (and our Jewish roots) is really important for our Christian life. I must admit, however, that though my appreciation of the Old Testament has grown greatly in recent times, I still struggle with much of the Pentateuch - with some of the laws, the violence, the taking of land enacted through what could now be called genocide, etc. I mean, as much as I love reading of encounters with the holiness of God (particularly Moses'), and as much as I'm comfortable with the idea of sinful, frail men dying because they've encountered God's sheer holiness (God is an all consuming fire of Love and isn't Santa Claus, after all), the many instructions and descriptions of Israelite conquest and warfare rarely edify or inspire me, but often simply render me feeling uneasy about myself and God.

I enjoy the Prophetic books, however, especially Isaiah, which is just so wonderful and so full of Messianic hope. Jeremiah, Jonah, Daniel and Ezekiel are also full of intense glory to my mind. I'm not sure how to approach the judgements declared against certain nations in these books and the manner in which God is shown to be in control of wars and conquest; while I fully accept God can and will judge nations, my thinking (as with much thinking today) is more individualistic, for better or for worse. But I do believe nations as a whole can turn from light into utter darkness... I just have a question in my mind regarding how to apply such scriptures. Do we, for example, view the Holocaust as a divine act of judgement (God forbid), or should we go with the New Testament's seemingly more nuanced model of the influence of the devil in the world and of human suffering?

I also really love the Wisdom books, and I love the prosperity and victory promised to God's people in these books - though again I find it hard to connect with the War Psalms (probably because I am not currently in a *physical* nation of chosen people with physical enemies waiting to attack me from every side!)

'Spiritualizing' these issues has been helpful, and I am now thankful for such stories because I can see Jesus Christ as a warrior on my behalf - a warrior who has defeated Satan and his demonic hoards, as well as the power of sin. But I would be lying if I said that I always came out of reading the Old Testament feeling like I had actually benefitted from the experience!

What's your take on the portrayal of God's sovereignty over wars in the global sense in the OT, and His specific instructions towards war? I'm no pacifist, and I don't want to water down God's word, but this has been something I've always struggled with.

Hisgirl

Good to see you Robert.

That's a hard question...hard because the only filter we have to use is our own capacity to think and understand.  God can see the entire picture, knows the beginning and end and we literally can't try and understand and 'question' what he does or doesn't do.  That would be bringing God down to our minuscule level, making him human, instead of divine.

Anytime I try to reconcile something that appears to be 'bad' with a loving God, I always end up judging God and somehow insinuating that I value human life more than He does.   Because surely if He valued a life as much as I do, He would have kept the babies from dying, the women, the children, the fathers, the sons, the daughters....where does it end?  If He valued the human life as much as I think He should, then He would have to save us all from dying....right? 

Oh, wait..... :shifty: ......that's exactly what He did, didn't He?  Maybe those folks who went before will get to have an encounter with Jesus, "and He led captivity"....   All I know, Robert, is He loves me, He loves me, He loves me.  And He feels the same about you.   :)

 

"It's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."  My Mama

Sarah

I have thought along those lines at one point.  Then the New comes to mind.  He made a new covenant with the world when He died for us.  We are blessed beyond measure with an advocate that the people of the Old Testament didn't have.  From that moment on the scripture changes and moves in a new way.  Thank you Father!
Embraced by the loving arms of the Father....

Foadle

October 23, 2010, 09:13:52 am #3 Last Edit: October 23, 2010, 09:51:40 am by Foadle
Okay, so I haven't been around for a while but here is my take:
 
Firstly in regard to your questions on war and the Pentateuch.  First is   the realisation that this was old covenant and therefore the world   (whether they liked it or not) was under law.  Though the law was given   to Moses, it was a standard that still applied to everyone.  It could   even be argued that it was a law given to Adam and Eve and repeated   through Moses.  You see Adam and Eve were given the choice of life or   death as shown in the form of the two trees.  Moses said to the people:
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have   set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Ultimately the same choice.  Life is   God and all that He offers.  Death is anything that is not God.    Therefore the other civilisations and cultures simply by their not   recognising and living after the true God had chosen death as there was   no grace but law only.
     
At one point God said to Abraham:
Genesis 15:16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
This means then that there was a point at which God said enough is   enough; hence the flood, Sodom and Gommorah, and the wiping out of   entire civilisations (genocide as you pointed out).  Keep in mind though   that there is still a grace afforded to them that is in a sense above   that afforded to us for Jesus said:
Matthew 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
Matthew 11:21 Woe unto thee,   Chorazin!  woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were   done in you, had been don in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented   long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Matthew 11:22  But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
Matthew 11:23 And thou,   Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt  be brought down to   hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been   done in Sodom it would have remained until this day.
Matthew 11:24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee.
So then we see that though in a physical sense they appear not to have been afforded any grace in an eternal sense they have a form of grace offered to them that is not available to us for we have the benefit of knowing Jesus.

Also look at this from a personal spiritual sense.  We are also given the option of a promised land.  No our land is not physical.  We are talking a spiritual land within us.  We are promised the kingdom of God.  We are already in that land for we are told:
Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Again we are told:
1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
So we see that if the Kingdom is within us and we are the temples then we are already in our promised land, however the Kingdom of God in the body of our temple has been violated and is in the hands those who have no honour for God.  I am not in this case talking physical people for unless you are a woman in pregnancy (of which I am also not talking) you do not have people inside you.  I am talking spiritual lodgers.  We need to remember:
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
We are not fighting our physical bodies so much as these forces spoken of above who have taken residence within us.  As with the Israelites entering their promised land, we must fight and take possession of ours.  In every case all the "people" are to be destroyed and in some cases the structures and any sign of their existence as well.  To know which to do that with we need God.

As for your next point about the total turning of nations from light to darkness we see it repeatedly with the Israelites themselves.  The making of the golden calf days after having seen the miracles of God not just once or twice but many times - the ten plagues, the crossing of the red sea, the cloud that was between them and the Egyptians before they crossed the red sea.  A look through kings gives other examples of those who turn quickly from God normally to keep power over the people.  Names such as Ahab and Jeroboam come up regularly as examples.

Even in our modern society we can see it happening.  Consider the drastic decline within the western world in only a couple of generations.  Until Gone With the Wind (1939) swearing was not allowed in film.  The makers of this movie were fined heaps for using the word "damn" yet today many would not even consider that swearing and you try finding a film that doesn't have swearing in it.

My grandmother was not married when my mum was born and had to fight to keep her (1950).  In 1966 she had a sister adopted by her mum and her husband who mum knew as dad because her sister's mum was not married and had been told to get rid of the baby or get out.  At this time this was acceptable and most families would have responded in a similar way.  Today teen pregnancy is rife as is single parenting.  In fact in Australia it is legal to have sex from the time you are 16 but you can't get married until you are 18.  Sexual morals have declined.

When my mother was a child though most were Christians to some extent, even if you weren't you were quiet on a Sunday, you didn't work etc.  Today the sabbath is the same as any other day and fewer and fewer know anything of Jesus Christ except as an expletive.

Haven't we then as a western culture turned from light to darkness?  And isn't it still happening?

In response to what you say about the holocaust I can assure you that as we are now under grace such things are not of God.  However God still has not got back authority over this world,
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
His ground is in us not in earth itself which through the treason of Adam and Eve legally belongs to the devil.  The power of the devil and those under him is the force behind such things, not God.

I hope this helps some.  Sorry if I was rather long winded.

AudioArtist

Foadle, that wasn't long winded at all. I found it very interesting - thanks for writing it!