It is Written (February 3, 2012)

…Opening To…

The Bible is a harp with a thousand strings. Play on one to the exclusion of its relationship to the others, and you will develop discord. Play on all of them, keeping them in their places in the divine scale, and you will hear heavenly music all the time. (William P. White)

…Listening In…

It was certainly our sickness that he carried, and our sufferings that he bore, but we thought him afflicted, struck down by God and tormented. He was pierced because of our rebellions and crushed because of our crimes. He bore the punishment that made us whole; by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5; context)

…Filling Up…

As I mentioned earlier in the week, the Hebrew Scriptures made up the Bible for the people who wrote the New Testament. Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews – they all quote from the texts that they grew up with, the texts of the Hebrew Bible. Sometimes, they do it verbatim: either they really know their stuff or they are looking at a scroll or something. Other times, they quote off the top of their heads and they get it right, sort of. These off the top of the head quotations capture at least the spirit of the verses they are referencing. In the New Testament, the times when characters in the Gospel or letter writers reach back to the Hebrew Scriptures are often prefaced with “It is written” or “In the words of the prophet so-and-so.”

This references to the Hebrew Scriptures in the New Testament is very important for us followers of Jesus Christ. Too often, we dismiss the Hebrew Scriptures because “Jesus isn’t in them” or “God doesn’t seem like the same loving God I know.” True, the character of Jesus is not in them, though Christians interpret much of the prophetic literature with Jesus as its focus. And true, God commands the people of Israel to do some pretty terrible stuff during their territorial wars as they laid claim to the Promised Land. These sections are difficult to read, and I wish I could give you some pointers on how to read them, but I can’t.

That being said, the Hebrew Scriptures are the rich, deep earth from which springs our Christian experience of God. There was an early Christian named Marcion, who decided that the Hebrew Scriptures should not be part of the Bible. So he chucked them away, preferring instead parts of the Gospel according to Luke and selections from Paul’s letters. Marcion thought that the God of the Hebrew Scriptures was not the same God as the God of Jesus. He thought the former evil and the latter good, hence his dumping of the Hebrew Scriptures. Well, the heads of the church excommunicating him for that, firmly cementing the Hebrew Scriptures, along with the New Testament, as the guiding texts of the Christian life. We ignore them to our own detriment. They are rich and they are varied. And they are ours.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you made known your glory to my spiritual ancestors, who wrote of your movement in the Scriptures. Help me to see your glory and reflect it in my words and deeds. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, grateful for your presence throughout time and space, as recorded in the Bible and lived in my life.

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