For many of us Christians the Old Testament is quite interesting on some levels, but puzzling in others. We don’t really feel at home in much of its writings. And for a number of reasons. It was a different time. And when Jesus came, he brought a new time with him. However the New Testament writers like Paul do not let us off the hook. They tell us that the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible was written for us as well, for our instruction and warning. And that Jesus came to fulfill it, to bring its goal and intention to completion. And we see the New Testament inundated with quotes and allusions from the Old.
Allan R. Bevere whose book All Is Not As It Seems: Random Reflections on Faith, Ethics, and Politics, I reviewed helps remedy this problem with a new book, interestingly entitled The Character of Our Discontent. Allan is a pastor and professor at a seminary, as well as a New Testament scholar. At a certain point in his ministry, he realized to his embarrassment that he was not giving enough attention to the Old Testament in the number of sermons he preached from its text. Being biblically and theologically astute, he knew that this just didn’t wash. So Allan prepared a number of messages from it to share with his congregation, and shares them with us in this book.
Abraham, Jacob and Esau, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samson, Samuel, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Esther, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are the main biblical characters we interact with. The chapters are compact with good, solid content. First with reference to the passage and subject matter from the Bible at hand. And also with reference to what theologians have said, along with good stories. The perfect mix not only for a good sermon, but for helping us grapple with the text, and better still, letting the text as God’s word grapple with us. For those interested in preparing messages, this book has good homiletical value in demonstrating a solid approach to it. The message of the text is interestingly applied to life now in ways in which we readily connect. For example Allan tellingly brings home to our culture something little related to it in the story of how Esau carelessly gave up his birthright which Jacob seized, in terms of the privileges given to us which bring with them serious responsibilities. The rest of the book is like this. And each chapter is ended with a fitting prayer. I could have read it cover to cover in one sitting (or in a day) since it’s so engaging, but thought it best to read it more reflectively, in a devotional sort of way, one chapter at a time.
This book should help whet our appetite, or rekindle our desire to get into the Old Testament. In fresh ways that are open to God’s voice.
(A quote from the book.)