God’s Goodness: Israel and the Old Testament

Lower Antelope Canyon, AZ. Photo credit: Mako Nagasawa


god’s goodness: israel and the old testament

Messages and Essays on God’s Goodness: Israel and the Old Testament

The Theology of Marvel’s Black Panther (45 - 60 minute presentation) A fun exploration of the movie as social commentary, reliance on actual history affected by Christian faith, and concepts of good and evil which are ultimately theological.  Wakanda serves as an archetype of the "chosen people" who received a gift from above, and parallels the role of biblical Israel who received a gift from above, just as T'Challa serves as an archetype of the "chosen one" and parallels Jesus

Does the Bible Have Evidence of Supernatural Design?

Does the Bible Have Evidence of Supernatural Design? A series of examples comparing biblical precepts and stories sociologically to other belief systems. Examples include the positive view of women and monogamy over polygamy, the priority of marriage over extended family, the jubilee as benefiting the people versus the king, and Rene Girard’s insights into the scapegoat psychology which Israel’s Yom Kippur rituals undid. Pictured is the Great Isaiah Scroll in the Israel Museum. Photo credit: KOREphotos | CC2.0.

The Uniqueness of the Jewish People and Jewish Thought a list of quotations from historians about the religious and sociological uniqueness of Judaism and the Jewish people historically, especially as compared to what other people believed

Spoken Word: How Can We Trust This God? God acts by His word, which means we cannot blame God for things He doesn't speak about. This makes Him trustworthy and traceable.

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God's Word Since God acts by His word, He is not omni-causal. So He does not cause suffering, but acts to heal the suffering behind the suffering. This vindicates God from the charge of being evil or arbitrary. This was one of the lessons God had to teach Israel.

God, Omnipotence, and Evil: God in Genesis A capstone of study in Genesis.  God acts by speaking, and makes room for partnership with human beings. God shows He is omnibenevolent, first and foremost.

Jesus in Genesis? From two angles: God immanent is the pre-incarnate Son; and God's desire for human partners reflecting His image eventually results in Joseph, a suffering servant who becomes an archetype of Jesus (messiah ben-Joseph).

Why Did God Choose a "Chosen People"? Why Not Just Skip Right to Jesus? A long essay reflecting on a major question overlooked by many: Why did God have an Israel in the first place?

The Troubling Acts of God:  Noah's Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Egyptian Firstborn, and the Canaanites When God took human life in these occasions, it was not to supposedly demonstrate "retributive justice," but rather to protect His human partners at the time, until Jesus came among the Israelites.

The Troubling Acts of God: The Destruction of the Canaanites (ppt1 and ppt2) A long explanation of the conflict with the Canaanites, from biblical and Trinitarian theological perspective

The Troubling Acts of God: Did God or Satan Make David Sin? (2 Sam.24; 1 Chr.21) An examination of a curious mention of Satan acting upon King David, which opens us up into a much larger question.

Romans 9 - 11: Predestination and Free Will, Hardening of Hearts, and Ongoing Outreach to the Jewish Community The implications of two different views of this passage:  The high federal Calvinist view, and the patristic view. Important quotations included.

Atonement in the Pentateuch Explores biblical passages and themes which emerge from the Pentateuch; makes an argument for medical substitution

What Did the Suffering Servant Suffer? Isaiah 53 and Penal Substitution Explores the book of Isaiah; makes an argument for medical substitution and "purification" as the dominant theme of Isaiah.

The Early Church on Israel and the Sinai Covenant as a Partnership for Medical Diagnosis

Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies book 4, chapter 14, paragraph 2 speaks of Israel as "accustoming man to bear His Spirit and to hold communion with Him... He adjusted the human race to an agreement with salvation." See also Irenaeus, Theodicy, and the Problem of Evil: His Lost Work "That God is Not the Author of Evil" and Evangelism Today A paper submitted to the Pappas Patristics Institute in March 2019.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 2, paragraphs 9 - 23 gives a very thoughtful reflection on Haggai on the cultivation of goodness or virtue (par.9) as an indication that the law was for our diagnosis and cure (par.23); yet ultimately we needed Christ to come, and heal and cleanse us 

Pseudo-Macarius of Egypt, Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Homily 15, paragraph 45; Homily 20, paragraph 6 Homily 15.45 refers to the sanctuary system as a rite of God's cleansing of His dwelling place; Homily 20.6 refers to Moses bestowing a partial cure

Cyril of Alexandria, Lecture XII: On the Word Incarnate, and Made Man, paragraphs 6 - 8 Says, "After Moses, Prophets were sent to cure Israel: but in their healing office they lamented that they were not able to overcome the disease... The wounds of man’s nature pass our healing... The evil is irretrievable by us, and needs thee to retrieve it. The Lord heard the prayer of the Prophets. The Father disregarded not the perishing of our race; He sent forth His Son, the Lord from heaven, as healer..." 

Books and Articles on God’s Goodness: Israel and the Old Testament

T.F. Torrance, Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (Amazon book, 2008) shows how intrinsically necessary biblical Israel was to the person and work of Jesus, both in his human life, and in the ways human language had to be stabilized in a community and a documented record in order for us to understand him.

That God needed to protect biblical Israel in order for Jesus to come, is the underpinning demonstrated by Elenore Stump, God-Sanctioned Violence (video, Jul 6, 2010), Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Amazon book, 2011), David T. Lamb, God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist, and Racist? (Amazon book, 2011), Peter Enns, John Piper on "Why It's Right for God to Slaughter Women and Children Anytime He Pleases" and Why I Have Some Major Problems With That (Patheos, Jul 17, 2012) and Peter Enns, Has John Piper Changed his Mind about “It’s Right for God to Slaughter Women and Children Anytime He Pleases”? (I’m just asking because the page is missing) (Patheos, Oct 11, 2012) - Enns takes Piper to task for reading God’s actions moralistically rather than as protective of Israel. N.T. Wright, Israel in Pauline Theology (video, Mar 20, 2014)

Thomas Seraphim Hamilton, The True Beauty of Romans 9 (OrthoCath blog, Aug 2, 2012) an excellent reading of Paul’s own reading of Israel’s history

Kristin Romey, Exclusive: Ancient Mass Child Sacrifice May Be World's Largest (National Geographic, Apr 26, 2018) Incan child sacrifice dating back ~550 years ago; a noteworthy comparison point to ancient Canaanite, Phoenician, and Carthaginian child sacrifice practices mentioned in biblical narrative

Gary Deddo, Covenant, Law, and God's Faithfulness (GCI) an excellent article exploring the points of continuity between the Old Testament and the New

Ari Lamm, Israel’s Political Mythology (First Things, Oct 10, 2019) examines the political and cultural role played by the Idumeans among the Jews at the time of Jesus; suggests that “Jewishness” is more complicated and permeable than simply “ethnicity,” and/or that the State of Israel has the potential of being more tolerant towards people who do not identify as “ethnic Jews”

god’s goodness: the trinity