Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Being Drawn to the Old Testament Part 2

As I concluded chapter 1 of Goldingay's weighty book, I was struck by these words.
“The Old Testament tells us who God is and who we are through the ongoing story of God’s relationship with Israel” (30).

“The specific OT story is of unique and decisive importance for the whole world, not least because it is the story that leads up to Jesus” (31)

This last quote was frustrating for me at first. Why is the OT story of unique and decisive important for the whole world? What does the story of a seemingly insignificant nation from the Ancient Near East have to do with us in 21st Century Northern Illinois? The answer, I think, is found in the first quote. The account of Yahweh's dealings with Israel in the OT tells us who God is and who we are. It seems clear from the NT and from Christian Theology that Israel has a revelatory purpose in God's plan. As the nations look at Israel, they learn how to understand God and they also look into a mirror. The story of Israel describes for us our condition when we are born into this broken world. As broken image-bearers we are born in "Egypt" under the wicked task-masters, sin, death, and Satan. We are born in exile, unable to serve and worship our Creator. Our need is Exodus. We must be graciously and miraculously redeemed out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God through the death of his "firstborn" Son. We need to learn how to pray for our daily bread in the wilderness while we wait for God to defeat our remaining enemies and give us the Promised Land. Indeed, the story of Israel is of unique and decisive importance because it tells us who God is and who we are.