Cohabitation with God

394 cohabitation with godIn the 2. Century AD, Marcion made the proposal to abolish the Old Testament (AT). He had compiled his own version of the New Testament (NT) with the help of the Gospel of Luke and some of Paul's letters, but he removed all quotes from the OT because he thought that the god of the AT was of no great importance; he was only the tribal god of Israel. Because of spreading this view, Marcion was excluded from the church fellowship. The early church then began to compile its own canon of scriptures, consisting of the four Gospels and all Pauline letters. Also, the Church adhered to the OT as part of the Bible, firmly believing that its content helps us understand who Jesus was and what He did for our salvation.

For many, the Old Testament is quite confusing - so unlike the NT. The long history and the many wars do not seem to have much to do with Jesus or the Christian life of our time. On the one hand there are the commandments and statutes to be observed in the OT and on the other hand it seems that Jesus and Paul completely deviate from it. On the one hand we read about ancient Judaism and on the other hand it is about Christianity.

There are faith communities that take the AT more seriously than other communities; they consider the Sabbath a "seventh day", observe the dietary laws of the Israelites, and even celebrate some of the Jewish annual festivals. Other Christians do not read the Old Testament at all and rather correspond to the Marcion mentioned at the beginning. Some Christians are even anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, when the National Socialists ruled in Germany, this attitude was supported by churches. This has also been shown in the aversion to the AT and the Jews.

Nevertheless, the Old Testament scriptures contain statements about Jesus Christ (John 5,39, Lk 24,27) and we are good at hearing what they have to say. They also show what the higher purpose of human existence is and why Jesus came to save us. The Old and New Testaments testify that God wants to live in communion with us. From the garden in Eden to the New Jerusalem - God's purpose is to live in harmony with Him.

In the garden of Eden

In the 1. Book of Moses describes how an almighty God created the universe by simply naming things. God said, "It will be and it will happen". He gave the instruction and it just happened. In contrast, the 2 reports. Chapter from the 1. Book of Moses from a god who got his hands dirty. He enters his creation and forms a man out of earth, planting trees in the garden and creating a companion for the man.

None of the transcript gives us a complete picture of what is happening, but different aspects of one and the same God can be seen. Although he had the power to do everything through his word, he decided to intervene personally in the creation of the people. He talked to Adam, brought the animals to him and arranged everything so that it would be a pleasure for him to have a companion around him.

Although the 3. Chapter from the 1. Book of Moses tells of a tragic development, but it also shows more of God's yearning for the people. After the people sinned for the first time, God went through the garden as he usually did (1 Moses 3,8). Almighty God had taken the form of a human and one could hear his footsteps. He could have just come out of nowhere if he wanted to, but he had decided to meet the man and the woman in a human way. Obviously it did not surprise her; God has often gone through the garden with them and talked to them.

So far, they knew no fear, but now she overcame the fear and they hid. Although they avoided the relationship with God, God did not. He could have retired angrily, but he did not give up his creatures. There were no twitching flashes of thunder or else an expression of divine wrath.

God asked the husband and wife what had happened and they answered. He then explained to them what consequences they had to bear because of their actions. Then he made clothes (1 Moses 3,21) and made sure they did not have to stay forever in their state of alienation and shame (1 Moses 3,22-23). From the first book of Moses we learn of conversations with God with Cain, Noah, Abram, Hagar, Abimelech and others. Of particular importance to us is the promise that God made to Abraham: "I will establish my covenant between you and you and your descendants from generation to generation, that it is an everlasting covenant" (1 Moses 17,1-8). God promised that he would have a permanent relationship with his people.

The election of a people

Many know the main features of the story of the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt: God called Moses, brought plagues over Egypt, led Israel through the Red Sea to Mount Sinai and gave them the Ten Commandments. We often overlook why God did it all. God said to Moses: "I will accept you to my people and will be your God" (2 Moses 6,7). God wanted to establish a personal relationship. Personal contracts such as marriages were closed at that time with the words, "You will be my wife and I will be your husband." Adoptions (usually for inheritance purposes) were sealed with the words, "You will be my son and I will be your father." When Moses spoke to Pharaoh, he quoted God as saying, "Israel is my firstborn son; and I command you to let my son go, that he may serve me "(2 Moses 4,22-23). The people of Israel were his children - his family - equipped with inheritors.

God offered his people a covenant that allowed direct access to him (2, Moses 19,5-6) - but the people challenged Moses: "Talk to us, we want to hear; but do not let God talk to us, we could die otherwise "(2 Moses 20,19). Like Adam and Eve she overcame the fear. Moses ascended the mountain to receive more instructions from God (2 Moses 24,19). Then follow various chapters on the tabernacle, its furnishings and the rules of worship. Over all these details we should not overlook the purpose of the whole thing: "They shall make me a sanctuary that I dwell among them" (2 Moses 25,8).

From the Garden of Eden, to the promises of Abraham, to the election of a people from slavery and even to all eternity, God wants to live in communion with his people. The tabernacle was the place where God dwelt with his people and had access to him. God said to Moses, "I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God, that they may know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them" (2 Moses 29,45-46).

When God gave the guidance to Joshua, he commanded Moses what he should say to him, "The LORD your God will draw with you, and will not turn away the hand and leave you" (5, Moses 31,6-8). This promise is also valid for us today (Hebr 13,5). That's why, right from the beginning, God created people and sent Jesus to our salvation: We are His people. He wants to live with us.

by Michael Morrison

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