The Old Testament is three-quarters of the bible, and the tales therein are stories that refer to God's deeds. There are three levels of bible narratives; the top, middle and lower levels of descriptions. The top-level is about God's universal plan, which primarily focuses on the creation, the fall of man, sin, the need for redemption of humanity and others. The middle-level centers the chosen generation of Israel; their captivity and restoration, while the bottom level ushers the bible into the New Testament. The primary purpose of these stories is to show the mighty power of God at work in his creation and among his people. They also glorify Him and give a picture of His providence and protection to those who trust in Him.
It is of paramount importance to note that reading biblical narratives is different from those of modern scientific history. First of all, descriptions in Scripture are a representation of bigger teaching and not as individual independent stories. While it is possible to study a narrative in the bible for its teaching, the next novels, the flow, setting historically and culturally, affect the interpretation by the reader. A perfect example of the above explanation is the fall of man from the third chapter of Genesis, which teaches about the man disgracing himself from the grace of God and then sin enters into humankind. Henceforth, the relationship that man had with God deteriorated, and chapter four shows a continuation. Cain kills his brother Abel and buries him, which is a sin, and when God reaches to Cain, he asks God if he was Abel's keeper.
The narratives of the bible are also different from the traditional ones, in that, engaging in the story and responding to it, a reflection of how it related to human emotions, wants, needs, ambitions, sins, failures and the likes comes up. Mostly, the characters in the narratives usually represent the reader in some way in human experience, and one has to ask themselves how the story involves them. In the story of Cain and Abel, God accepts the sacrifice of Abel and does not take that of Cain. The latter is angry with God, and He asks Cain if he would not be allowed if he did well. It hits the reader there that if he is to be accepted, doing the right thing is vital. There are numerous stories in the bible that address different human features from the perspective of their relationship with God. It is imperative to note that God is always the main character in the Scripture and therefore, it would be wrong to make it directly and boldly address contemporary political, scientific, social or historical issues.
Biblical narratives show the mighty hand of God in different aspects of our lives; His power to create, save, provide, protect and bless. The creation story not only depicts God's ability to create but it also shows that He is a God of order. After the man falls and sin enters into humanity, God punishes the man, and he introduces pain and toiling to survive. In Genesis chapter six, the bible says that God saw the wickedness of man was great and all that he thought was evil. Because God is merciful, he chose to preserve His servant Noah and his household and was instructed the ark.
By using floods to destroy the earth shows God's power over all humankind, but it also shows his kindness to preserve the righteous. God allows the Israelites to be captives in Egypt to show that he protects His people, no matter how long it takes. He protects them during their exodus through the Red Sea, provides for them in the desert and finally gives them Canaan. The whole experience of Egyptian captivity and Canaan typifies life without God, filled with trouble and hardships and spirit-filled life with God's abidance and provisions respectively.
Israelite life and religion were a big concern to God because Israel was the chosen generation of God. God raises two Major Prophets in the Old Testament; Isaiah and Jeremiah. Although they lived at different times in the Bible, they have significant effects on Christian life today. In the book of Isaiah, the most notable thing is God's salvation through the coming Messiah Jesus Christ, who would be born eight centuries after Isaiah. Isaiah also delivered a message of God to Israelites to turn away from their sinfulness. Jeremiah, on the other hand, gives the final warning to the kingdom of Judah to turn away from idolatrous life and unrepentant nature.
God raises Jeremiah to deliver this message of repentance to the people of Judea, but their hearts had already been hardened by sin. As such, people can learn that God despises sin and is a jealous God who deserves to be served alone. The Israelites had idols for a god and lived a sinful life, and God sent Isaiah then Jeremiah. Finally, God is merciful, because even after people defiling themselves and their land through sin, being taken captives by the Babylonians, He still saves them.
Becker, Patrick, and Steffen Joris. 2016. "Toward A Scientific Designation: Apocalypticism In Biblical And Modern Studies-A Comparative Approach". Horizons In Biblical Theology 38 (1): 22-44. doi:10.1163/18712207-12341314.
Meyer, Esias, and Leonore Pietersen. 2016. "Old Testament Stories And Christian Ethics: Some Perspectives From The Narrative Of Judah And Tamar". STJ | Stellenbosch Theological Journal 2 (1): 241-259. doi:10.17570/stj.2016.v2n1.a12.
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