The Old Testament God

Ted Grimsrud

Exodus and the Psalms provided stimulus for reflecting on how the Old Testament presents God in a series of short reflections I published during the Fall of 2010 in Mennonite Weekly Review.

These reflections followed the uniform Sunday School lesson for that time period. The format for these reflections allows very little opportunity for in-depth analysis of any sort. And they are meant to be accessible to non-scholars. So it’s a challenge to find something to say that has substance.

My main interest, in the small space allotted, was to test the thesis that God in the Old Testament is actually mainly presented as merciful, concerned with healing, and well worth trusting in. Of course, one could easily find 13 passages that would support this thesis. However, part of the challenge in writing these reflections was that I was not allowed to choose the passages to write on; I had to follow the outline given to me.

I found this to be a worthy challenge and felt in the end that my thesis has been confirmed—albeit, as a general impression not a settled conclusion. In the end, though, I felt myself to be inspired and encouraged by these texts and thought that the discipline to struggle with them in light of my concern with present-day lessons for peacemaking was well worthwhile.

Too often Christians (and others) with commitments actively to work for peace see the Old Testament as a problem to overcome, not a positive resource for peacemaking. While the Old Testament is complex and diverse in its portrayal of God, these short reflections are meant to encourage readers not simply to think in terms of finding scattered bit and pieces that we can point to to say the Old Testament is not all bad—rather, the Old Testament is essential and unique as a source of insight and exhortation that might help empower us to embody shalom.

Here is a link to a page that has the list of the thirteen lessons and links to each short article.

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