John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

God According to the Old Testament (Part 2)

A few weeks ago, I suggested that one very good reason to read and study the Old Testament is that we find therein a great and detailed survey of the Jewish worldview. Even if a person didn't believe in the divine inspiration of the text, this certainly has significant historical importance as one of the earliest documentations of why a people lived the way they lived. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I suggested that the entire Jewish worldview began with the concept that there was one God (YHWH) who alone created everything and should alone be worshiped.

But there's more to this God of the Old Testament than his oneness. For example, this God created the heavens and the earth. That meant that the world had a beginning. It was an intentional creation. There was a plan, and the plan came from an intelligent being. Everything depends on God, and without his sustaining providence, things would cease to exist.

This benevolent Creator actually related to his creation. Material substance wasn't "beneath" God. He enjoys his creation, calling it "good". Through various episodes and stories, we see this Creator relating to people, demonstrating compassion, calling them to join him in a covenant of love and grace. He cares for and protects individuals and his people as a whole.

This God is also terrifyingly holy. His moral standards and demands are too high for fallen human beings. His holiness allows him to judge, and his judgments are universal -- extending even to those who refuse to acknowledge him. His holiness and judgment, however, are never malevolent. His intent is to rid the world of evil and establish goodness on the earth.

Finally, this gracious and holy Creator is trustworthy. What he says can be trusted. He is utterly dependable, and what he promises will surely come to pass.

This is the beginning, the center and the circumference of the Jewish worldview as found in the Old Testament. And it is from this view of God that we are able to draw conclusions about their view of things like humanity, the cosmos, truth, meaning, morality, history, etc.

Now, I realize that most of the people reading this blog are at least somewhat familiar with this Jewish concept of God. But can we appreciate how radical it was. Try to imagine how the idea of a God who is holy and loving, compassionate and powerful, set apart from and yet involved in the lives of humans would have impacted the daily life of Jewish people.

What are the implications of this concept of God?