Encountering God through the Old Testament and the tradition of how we interact with God
Through the Old Testament and our traditions we see a glimpse of who God is. This week we talked about God & The Old Testament in confirmation.
This is what we talked about
Our Christian tradition is recounted in the Old Testament.
We can learn about God through studying His attributes such as eternal, almighty, creator and sustainer, personal and relational, loving and just.
God created us to have free will and to receive His love and reciprocate His love.
The Holy Trinity is God in three persons. One in essence and nature. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Traditions help shape our understanding of the world around us
Whether it is holiday traditions, daily routines, or spiritual practices we all have traditions that we follow. Traditions help shape our understanding of the world. There are Christian traditions which shape our understanding of God and how we interact with God and with each other in a community of believers. Part of our tradition is The Old Testament, which tells us something about how God interacted with a particular group of people in a particular time. From the recording of these interactions in scripture we are given insight into who God is and the roles he plays in our lives. The purpose of scripture is to tell us something about God, so what does the Old Testament have to say about God?
Some of our understanding of other people involves the attributes that they possess. The Old Testament gives us many of God's attributes. Here are some of them:
- God is eternal. Time began with God and will end with God. There was no time when God “was not”. God is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalms 90:2 and 103:17)
- God is almighty. He is omnipotent, meaning all-powerful; He is able to do whatever He wills to do (Psalm 135:5-6). He is omnipresent, meaning everywhere present at one and the same time; He is one from whom no one can hide (Psalms 139:7-12). He is omniscient, meaning that He is all-knowing, with complete and perfect knowledge of things past, present and future (Heb. 4:13).
- God is creator and sustainer. He created the universe and life out of nothing. Before God created, there was nothing but God. But, He is a sustaining presence in the universe, meaning He didn’t just create and then walk away. (Psalm 104:24-28)
- God is personal and relational. God is not an object or an “it.” He created us in His image and likeness so that we could have a relationship with Him. (Genesis 1:26-27) Among God’s personal attributes are love, kindness, mercy and compassion. God is like a parent who cares for and guides us; whose words and promises can be relied upon; who comes to us in times of pain and suffering. One way we can experience this personal God is through Jesus Christ. (John 3:16)
- God is love. He wants the highest good for His creation. God’s love involves discipline as much as it does happiness and blessing. God wants what is best for His creation and His people. (1John 4:16)
- God is just. He always does what is right. God is the supreme judge. (Romans 9:14-16)
- God is forgiving. Though we don’t deserve it, His Grace is given to us for our sins. (1John 1:9)
- God is good. Everything God is and everything God does is good. Related to His goodness are other attributes: grace, mercy, and patience. (Psalm 100:5)
- God is holy. Completely separate from sin. (Psalm 99:5)
Why do bad things happen?
We have said that God is all powerful, good, and just, so why do bad things happen to good people? We watched a quick video to give us a possible answer to that question:
So some bad things happen in response to our actions, but what about things that seem to happen for no reason? What about babies dying, people getting terrible cancer, or autoimmune diseases? What happens there? A possible answer can again be found in our tradition of scripture in the Old Testament.
In Job we are given a glimpse into the order of the universe when God speaks out of a whirlwind and says to Job:
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?" Job 38:8-11 NIV
Another way the sea was referred to in the ancient near middle east was as chaos. Storms could come up fast, there were rocks in the waters to sink boats, there was a belief in sea monsters, the sea was considered a place of great chaos. Part of the cultural tradition of the region was that chaos had to be killed or tamed in order for creation to come about. In this story though we are given the imagery of chaos being a baby, bursting forth from a womb and being swaddled. God does not eliminate chaos in creation, instead, chaos is a part of creation. Bad stuff happens, sometimes for no reason. Is this the only school of thought to answer the question, why does God let bad things happen to good people? Certainly not, but it is an answer that can be found in part of our tradition.
So why were we created?
If we look at scripture we can see that humanity is created differently from the rest of creation, we are set apart. So what is our purpose? It appears that through scripture our purpose is:
- Receive God's love
- Reciprocate God's love. Get to know and love God. When Jesus was asked what law is the greatest, He replied (Matthew 22:37) "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Therefore it is important that we understand God and also what it means to love Him. The Love for God is not just a feeling, it is showing God our love through our actions and obeying His commandments.
- Share God's love with others: 1 John 4:7-12 "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be talking about the Holy Trinity, three persons in one of same essence and nature. The three parts are:
- The Father: There is one living and true God, everlasting, of infinite power, wisdom and goodness, maker and preserver of all things both visible and invisible.
- The Son: He is the Word of the Father, one substance with the Father. Jesus Christ who came to reveal God, to redeem us from sins. He is fully God and fully man. He truly suffered, was crucified, dead and buried to reconcile us with the Father. He is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, so that those who believe in Him will have eternal life.
- The Holy Spirit: proceeding from the Father and the Son who calls us to faith. Been around since the beginning and works in our lives to give us power to do God's work.
Weekly Scripture to Memorize:
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Have them write their Scripture on a note card. Put this card somewhere that they will see it at home all week.
Read Joshua 22:5 and answer these questions in your journal:
1. During this week in what ways have you tried to grow in your love for God?
2. What things this week has God given to you or blessed you with that show His love for you?
3. When was a time in your life that things seemed bad but God gave you hope?
4. When was a time you felt close to God?
5. When was a time you felt far away from God?
6. When was a time you felt like you really needed God in your life?
7. Who taught you about God?
Read John Chapters 3 - 5 Write down in your journal one thing you learned from these Chapters.
The Journey Continues Next Week: This week we looked at the Father (God). Next week will be looking at the Son, Jesus Christ. Lesson 3 Who is Jesus? In preparation for next week read over pg. 30, “Who is Jesus?” and Record one thing you learned about Jesus in your Journal.
Make a Blessing Jar as a family. Take an old Mason Jar or any cup and have each member of your family write 5 blessings that God has given to your family. At dinner time each night pull out 2 or 3 and share with each other why they are blessings. Take the time to Pray and thank God for what He has done for you as a family.