On a page leading towards a discussion of "The Redemptive Movement of Scripture," the author wrote these words.
Note too that common ancient Near Eastern worship patterns and rituals -- sacrifices, priesthood, holy mountains/places, festivals, purification rites, circumcision -- are found in the law of Moses. For example, we find in Hittite law a sheep being substituted for a man. In his providence, God appropriated certain symbols and rituals familiar to Israel and infused them with new meaning and significance in light of his saving, historical acts and his covenant relationship with Israel. This "redemption" of ancient rituals and patterns and their incorporation into Israel's own story reflect common human longings to connect with "the sacred" or "the transcendent" or to find grace and forgiveness. In God's historical redemption of Israel and later with the coming of Christ, the Lamb of God, these kinds of rituals and symbols were fulfilled in history and were put in proper perspective.
Instead of glossing over some of the inferior moral attitudes and practices we encounter in the Old Testament, we should freely acknowledge them. We can point out that they fall short of the ideals of Genesis 1-2 and affirm with our critics that we don't have to advocate such practices for all societies. We can also show that any of the objectionable practices we find in the Old Testament have a contrary witness in the Old Testament as well." (pg. 62)
1. What do you think of the idea that God used common ancient Near Eastern worship patters and rituals and gave them new meaning and significance?
2. Can you think of any objectionable practice having "a contrary witness in the Old Testament"?
3. Do you agree that we should freely acknowledge "inferior moral attitudes and practices" encountered in the OT? How do you handle them when talking to scoffers or even when trying to make sense of them to yourself?
Serious-minded Old Testament Jews were regularly reminded of the gap between God and themselves. To approach God was no light thing, and throughout an Israelite's daily life were many reminders of defilement, impurity, and barriers in worshiping God. Attentive Israelites routinely experienced a "holiness gap" that existed between them and God. ... The law -- with all its purity requirements and sacrifices -- actually revealed human inadequacy and thus the need for humans to look beyond their own resources to God's gracious assistance. (pg. 85-6)
The author reminds us that Paul called the law a "tutor" that leads us to Christ.
4. What do you think about this "holiness gap"? Do you agree that the Law revealed inadequacies or do you believe keeping it all should be good enough for God and He should appreciate the effort?
5. Why do you think approaching God is "no light thing"? Do you agree or disagree?
The author states that the underlying rationale for everything -- even the detailed food laws -- shows that God wanted His people to be different (holy) in every aspect of life. "Living under God's reign should affect all of life... God isn't cordoned off to some private, religious realm." (pg. 75)
Reminder: Paul told the Corinthians, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (10:31)
6. What do you think of God wanting to be involved in all aspects of life? Do you think most people live this way or do they put God on a shelf like an insurance policy and only take Him out and use Him if something bad happens? Why would people not want God involved in their lives? Are there certain areas perhaps that they don't want His input?
Any other thoughts or comments on these topics?