Monday, August 18, 2008

Helpful Way to Tell the Story

I found something helpful in Bruce Waltke's An Old Testment Theology, something I will use in my teaching and talking about the Bible (the First Testament in particular). I have adapted it somewhat already, but at the heart of what I say here is Waltke's analysis.

When discussing whether there is a "center" to the Bible's message--a core summarizing theme--Waltke points to the petition in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy kingdom come." For Waltke, the center of the Biblical message is God establishing his rule in the universe he created. This central message is played out via five components:
  1. God's people
  2. In God's land
  3. With God's laws
  4. Under the rule of God's king
  5. In order to bring God's blessing to all the earth
All these themes are present from the beginning of the Bible, and they run concurrently with varying emphasis throughout. For example, in the "Primary History" (Genesis-Kings):
  • Genesis 1-11 introduces all these themes.
  • The primary function of Genesis 12-Exodus 19 is to identify God's people.
  • The primary function of Exodus 20-Deuteronomy is to prepare them for life in the land with God's laws.
  • The primary function of Joshua-Kings is to tell the story of their life in the land with God's laws under the rule of God's king.
  • All this took place in order that Israel might be God's priests to the other nations of the world (Exodus 19.5-6).
Unfortunately, the First Testament ends with failure.
  • Israel failed to live up to their calling as God's people.
  • They failed to keep God's laws.
  • Their failures led to exile from the land, and though they physically returned, they never regained their former glory or standing.
  • God's kings had been almost unqualified disasters, leading the nation to ruin.
  • Instead of a light, they became a laughingstock among the nations.
What Israel failed to do, the One True Israelite, Jesus Christ did. More to come on that.

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