There is a feature with WordPress whereby you can see the terms and phrases visitors to your blog plugged into a search engine which then pointed to you. It is actually pretty interesting. The most common phrase is some version of ‘descriptive marriage play’ which is related to this post here, but I do not venture to guess what they are really searching for!
However, there was one today that struck me. The phrase was “when did god demonstrate grace in the old testament?” This absolutely made my day! If I have ever been able to a) make someone interested in the Old Testament or b) show someone the immense grace that is present there, then I have done well.
I have been in love with the Old Testament nearly all of my life. I was raised in the Presbyterian church (pcusa) and while I do not know if emphasis on the Old Testament writings is a common part of that tradition or just for the particular pastors I had, I do know that the love affair began then. It was more than just the bible stories from my younger years, though it started then with Daniel in the lions’ den, Ruth and Naomi, the creation story, Noah and the ark and the terrifying flood, laughing Sarah, Abraham nearly sacrificing his son but not, Moses outwitting the Pharoah’s magicians, beautiful Queen Esther, Samson and Delilah, Deborah the Judge, and the mighty and messy King David. More than that, however, was the returning to the Israelite’s story over and over with each part of the life of Jesus, his death and resurrection, and the life of the church. The message was clear even to a child: what’s happening with Jesus has its roots back then.
There was no sharp line of demarkation that made it seem as though one stopped here and the other started. It seemed to be of a single piece, held together by Jesus.
In seminary, now as a Lutheran, I was shocked at the view of some that the Old Testament was pretty much irrelevant. (Actually, I was shocked at the overall lack of bible knowledge and number of people who had not even read the bible beyond what came up in the regular three year lectionary, yet intended to go into professional ministry, but that is for another time.) For many, the idea that the image of God in the OT was also gracious and that there was no real need to divide the entire text in half with law on the left and gospel on the right was just not within their realm of experience or thought. Now, in the parish, I find that so many life-long-Lutherans have virtually no knowledge of anything in the Old Testament beyond the ten commandments. This is sad…no, heartbreaking to me.
It can also border on Gnosticism when taken so far as to say the God of the OT is all law and anger and Jesus saves us from him.
So, person who searched for God demonstrating grace in the Old Testament, I am glad to know there are others out there searching for just this thing. I hope you found something that pointed you in the right direction here. It is my prayer that we may all dig a little deeper into these ancient texts and see for ourselves that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love from beginning to end.