Call of a Man: Plot of the Old Testament
Jason M. Roebuck
Northwest Christian University
Too often, the Old Testament is seen as a history of an ancient people, and a list of regulations that were to be followed by the Israelites, that would never follow them in today’s world. This paper will be an attempt to show that the stories of the Old Testament reveal the truth of God’s plan for the world, not just the Israelites. God intended to call all of creation back to himself through Man, and it is clear from the beginning of the Old Testament to the end. This essay is my attempt at explaining the nature of that call and how it relates to us.
Call of a Man: Plot of the Old Testament
At the end of the first chapter of Genesis, it states that God looked at everything that he had made, and found it very good. (Genesis 1:31) The knowledge of everything that God made is very good is fundamental to grasping the way the story of how God chosen people will bring about the salvation of the whole world. If God looked at creation and saw that parts of it that he made were not so good, then we might be justified in looking for ways to not love those that were not so good. However, he made all good things to lead his creation back to himself. This is the story of how one man was called, Abraham, and then another was saved from slavery, Joseph, and finally another led the chosen people out of slavery, Moses. All this, in order to be a signal to all creation that God has a plan to lead it to eternity with him.
The story of Abraham gives us the first of many glimpses of how our life can get flipped upside down when God calls us. God calls Abram and tells him that he is the chosen one, but then leads him to Egypt to fall into the hands of Pharaoh and his wife is taken from him. The account here is not to say that Abram was not complicit in what happened to his wife, but the fact that he would be put in this position right after he was called, is quite telling. Of course, God gives him a way out, by striking the Pharaoh and his household with a severe plague because of Sarai, Abram’s wife, and he sends them away. (Genesis 12:17, 20) The story continues by telling of how Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. God leads him to the land he promised him and gives him offspring. Finally, the covenant that was made with Abraham is established through his son, Isaac, and he continues his story through his children. Specifically, one of his children was named Jacob, who became the one to carry on the story of the chosen people, not without some deception, on him and his mother’s part. Nonetheless, he became the one Isaac blessed. (Genesis 27:37) Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, and from him was born the one through whom the chosen people, would be saved from famine, after he wrestled with God. (Genesis 32:29)
Joseph was the chosen son of Israel to lead his people from the land of famine. It was only after his being sold into slavery and his miraculous recovery to sit beside the Pharaoh as the one in charge of his household and the whole land of Egypt. Joseph met up with his brothers, who had sold him into slavery, and forgave them and saved his people from the famine. This brought his people to live in Egypt, and eventually led to them to being put into slavery. However, this was the chosen path that God chose to grow his people through an “incubation” period that allowed them to grow in number and in strength. (Larsen, 2011) They were not encumbered by a need to create a government or a military, they only sought their own preservation through the following of the will of God. Finally, a man was chosen by God to set his people free.
Moses was chosen by God to be raised by the Egyptians as one of their own. After he grew up, he chose to defend his people and was driven into hiding by an act of violence. God sent him back to Egypt, after some time living as a shepherd, to ask Pharaoh to release his people. Through plagues, Pharaoh was convinced to let Moses and his people go. It was the final plague that the Passover feast was instituted into the Jewish faith, because the first born of their families were kept safe by the blood of the lamb that was sacrificed for their meal the night before the Angel came from God to strike down the first born of every family in Egypt. (Exodus 12:12-13) This is a typology of what the prophets would foretell of the Messiah who would come once the chosen people were finally settled in the Promised Land. Before them, Moses and Aaron would warn the Hebrew people about not giving due honor to the Lord, by dying before they entered the land that was promised to their ancestors.
The story continues to tell of how the people chosen by God would stray from the path chosen for them by God, by rejecting God’s commands and following other gods. There were many prophets that warned them about their lack of attention to what was God’s will for them, but they were ignored and tortured for their faith. Finally, the Prophets foretold of one who would come to bring all of creation back into relationship with God. He was to born of a woman, and his name would be Emmanuel, which means “With Us is God”. (Isaiah 7:14) Many other things were said of him, and written down through the Prophets, not the least of which is Isaiah 53.
God chose to tell his story to us through all of the stories of the Old Testament, which leads us to the Gospel that is proclaimed in the New Testament. It is through these three men, Abraham, Joseph and Moses, that we see the way the Israelites would be brought to the Promised Land and be put in the position of bringing salvation to the whole world. It is because God created the world and found it very good, that we are being brought back to him through deliverance at the hands of the Son.
New American Bible, revised edition (2010) Confraternity of Christian Doctine, Inc., Washington, DC
Larsen, Jim (2011, May 26). Abraham. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wepPOe4_g9E&feature=youtu.be.