Old Testament – Session 4

Today was such an interesting session! It made me look at how we can read the Old Testament in a certain way, and also helped massively for my assignment planning, which includes looking at an Old Testament story and applying it to a modern day issue.

We looked at something called Disrupted Communication, which I understand to be the way humanity has failed in its attempt at communicating with God. To understand humanity’s failed communication with God, we looked at some stories in the Old Testament where people have managed to form a relationship with Him through faith and prayer. Joseph, for example, never doubted God, never relented in his devotion to God while he endured great suffering, and eventually, God rewarded him.

We also read the famous story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. God told Abraham that He needed a sacrifice, and that it was to be Isaac, his son. The way Abraham communicates with God is through appeasement, and agreeing to this sacrifice. In the end, Abraham’s willingness to carry out the sacrifice is enough, and God stops him before Isaac is killed.

We then looked at how human beings treat God. One metaphor that was particularly interesting, is God as a vending machine. We pray, or follow a set of rules etc. and expect God to reward us with something. Like putting money into a vending machine and expecting a treat. This is similar to stories of sacrifice in the Old Testament, humans giving God something (e.g. a lamb) and God rewarding them in return.

However, communication with God was, and still is disrupted, some might say. An example of this disrupted communication between humans and God is in the story of Elijah. He expects God to talk to him through a great hurricane or earthquake, when in actual fact, God speaks to him through a “gentle whisper”. This relates to the idea that God is always trying to communicate with humanity, but we just can’t hear, or are unwilling to hear. Appeasement is not what God requires from us, as we believe, but He simply wants us to listen.

To round up the session, we were asked the question, is it God’s fault that people suffer because he is inactive in the world today, or are we  just not listening to God? Are we doing the same as Elijah did in sitting and asking why God isn’t doing anything?

All in all, today was really useful in helping me to understand the different ways in which God and humans can communicate, and how this could have bearing on both how we read the Old Testament stories and how we can perceive the world today.

suffering and god

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