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Old Testament Gospel

The Old Testament is not basically hard or demanding news to swallow, but good news that has not been heard.

(John Goldingay, Old Testament Theology: Israel’s Gospel, vol. 1 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 23.)

I believe that what Goldingay says is true. The OT is ripe with fruit of the gospel that we have not begun to recognize, much less enjoy.

I don’t know how much time I have left on earth, but my goal for using that time is to delve into the OT and see what I can see. Of course, I’ll share as much as I can.

I want to know God as he is, as he has revealed himself. Not through the eyes of Plato, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, or even Wesley. I want to live in God’s word to us and see him for real. I’m up for it.

Folk Theology

In Israel — before the Temple was built and after — folk theology was a constant problem.

Moses taught that God is one and that no other god should be worshiped. But worship of other gods and improper worship of Yahweh continually took place.

  • Yahweh was worshiped using images of cattle.
  • Yahweh was confused with the baals of Canaan.
  • Yahweh was thought to have a consort named Astarte, or Asherah.
  • Yahweh was thought to respond to human (child) sacrifice.
  • Yahweh was worshiped alongside household gods, geographic gods, Egyptian gods, Mesopotamian gods, Canaanite gods, Greek gods, and Roman gods.

I could build a longer list, but I will leave that exercise for the reader. These issues were constant fodder for the prophets and the historians. Even the Psalmists. Until the second Temple was destroyed in AD 70, Jewish religion was a mishmash of this and that. It took a tragedy the size of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple to banish idolatry forever in Jewish religion, resulting in what we know as Judaism today, which has pertained to the last 2000 years.

A fun game to play is to shake our heads and cluck our tongues at the foolishness of the Israelites. Yet are we any better today?

  • Christians get all into angels and healers and positive thinking and who knows what else, syncretizing what is essentially paganism with their religion.
  • Christians talk about the spirits of their departed family members being with them and helping them through life.
  • Christians think a morning quiet time will be a good luck charm for the day and that missing it bodes evil.
  • Christians believe that the goal of life is a disembodied eternity in an ethereal place called heaven.
  • Christians opine that the most important thing is to make America great. Again.
  • Christians believe that the gospel is about getting to heaven and avoiding hell.
  • Christians plan on being “raptured” from this earth before it burns up or something.
  • Christians think they can say a magic incantation and be safe from hell without changing their lives in any substantial way.
  • Christians buy into thinking that the most important obligation they have is to show up on Sunday morning in the right time and place.

Again, I could make a longer list.

I think a better plan would be for us to read our Bibles — including the OT — and dump our folk theology.