Reading: Isaiah 54:9-10
Half of this reading sounds awesome. God has compassion on us and offers us steadfast love and peace that will outlast the mountains and the hills. Sweet. Even the bit reminding us how God promised Noah that the earth wouldn’t be swallowed up in water sounds a little nice; God not being angry and rebuke-y are both positives.
But these are verses 9 and 10, which means we’ve got at least eight verses of context to contend with. In those first 8 verses, it’s a bit more like a rom/com movie where halfway through you’re not sure if it’s going south at the end. Israel will be restored, but God plays the abandoning spouse. It does come around at the end, but it’s clear that both parties have some apologizing to do.
Our modern understanding of God emphasizes grace over judgment, but many youth still grow up with an understanding of angry God/happy God in scripture. Worse, they often associate the Old Testament with angry God and the New Testament with happy God. That’s particularly dangerous as the Old Testament represents our entire borrowed culture. Our Christian God is also the God of Abraham; if we write off that God as “angry God,” we effectively write off the origin of our faith. Better to help youth understand the culture that perceived God as both tempered and loving, jealous and steadfast. What can we learn from how they related to God?
How did you make sense of the apparent shift in temperament of God between the Old and New testaments?
What does the way God was understood culturally by Israel tell us about them? About God?
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