Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Being Drawn to the Old Testament

Through a variety of recent circumstances my interest in Old Testament has been enhanced. One of these circumstances has been our community's exploration of God's Vision for a Local Church. Out of our desire to be faithful to the canonical text, I decided to spend significant time investigating God's intention for Old Testament Israel. One of the "thematic" verses to which we were drawn was Exodus 19.5-6
Now then, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (NASB).
The words of Yahweh that seemed especially critical to our study were, " shall be to me a kingdom of priests..." What does this mean for Israel and God's plan for her as a nation? Did Israel ever fulfill her calling? Furthermore, what does God's plan for Israel have to do with a local church in Northern Illinois? These are complex questions that ought to be taken seriously. We don’t want to appeal for authority to the OT in a way the compromises the authority of the entire Canonical Story. This complexity drove me to Amazon to purchase two recommended OT Theology volumes by John Goldingay of Fuller Seminary: (1) Israel’s Gospel and (2) Israel’s Faith. My desire is to grasp with confidence how the Story of Israel in the OT can contribute to the community life of our church. I was not disappointed as I read the introduction. These words from volume 1 especially made me smile.
In principle I am not interested in OT theology as a merely theoretical discipline. I am interested in it because I have found that the OT has a capacity to speak with illumination and power to the lives of communities and individuals (18).
My reading will be driven by a prayerful desire to learn how the OT does speak with power and authority and illumination to a local church in Northern Illinois. Perhaps this is one means by which Israel functions as a priestly kingdom. Maybe her story in the OT functions as a revelatory sacrifice offered on behalf of the nations. May we as a church learn what God has for us contained within her offering. So here's a question for you to ponder. What authority does the OT Story of Israel exercise in your life? By the way, Scot McKnight is also blogging through these 2 volumes. His insights will far outweigh mine!

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