In this and the next two sections, I’d like to lead us into deeper understanding of the Bible, to help us grow in faith.
Because few of us come to the Bible without some knowledge of its contents, it is easy to forget that the Moses stories are our first “big” introduction to God’s advocacy of his people Israel. We learned at the outset of Genesis that God created the heavens and earth, and that God has the power to bring destruction and punishment as well as creation (Noah’s flood, the confusion of languages at Babel). We also learn in Genesis that God chose Abram and Sarai to be ancestors of a great nation. We follow the Genesis stories as God is involved in the very imperfect lives of Abraham’s sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons—Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and Jacob’s daughter and twelve sons. We learn how Jacob and his children ended up in Israel, and then Exodus tells us that the Israelites came to be slaves. But now, God intervenes and chooses Moses and Aaron—Jacob’s great-great-grandsons—to lead the people to freedom via God’s signs and wonders.
For our own faith (perhaps to speak the obvious), it is this God whom we worship and praise and to whom we look in times of both health and crisis. We are looking to God right now as we struggle with pandemic and also with tenacious social ills like racism and social inequality.
1.Some Christians think of faith in personal terms; they want to lead people to a personal decision for Christ. Some Christians emphasize the social side of faith: God calls us to address social problems (for instance, we should as Christians address root problems of poverty, racism, etc.). How do you think about faith? Can these two emphases be separated?
2.In your relationship with God, what were times when you were astonished by God’s grace? What were times when you felt disappointed? What were times that you saw only in hindsight how God had touched your life?
3.How often do you turn to the Old Testament for insights into your Christian faith?