Im h11 images of god in ot

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Im h11 images of god in ot

  1. 1. The God of Israel:The God of Israel: The Image of God inThe Image of God in the Old Testamentthe Old Testament
  2. 2. Why Start with the God of Israel?Why Start with the God of Israel?  The God of Israel is the same God that weThe God of Israel is the same God that we Christians believe inChristians believe in  The Christian concept of God is not a totallyThe Christian concept of God is not a totally new beginning; it has a pre-history in the faith ofnew beginning; it has a pre-history in the faith of Israel.Israel.  To understand Christianity's concept of God asTo understand Christianity's concept of God as Triune, one must begin with the understandingTriune, one must begin with the understanding of God in the faith of Israel.of God in the faith of Israel.
  3. 3. ExodusExodus The Exodus-experience as primordialThe Exodus-experience as primordial event of Israel where God revealedevent of Israel where God revealed himself through his saving deedshimself through his saving deeds
  4. 4. Yahweh the God of IsraelYahweh the God of Israel  Yahweh is based on the Tetragrammeton - YHWH.Yahweh is based on the Tetragrammeton - YHWH. As it is written in the Hebrew Scriptures there are noAs it is written in the Hebrew Scriptures there are no vowels, the reader was expected to supply thevowels, the reader was expected to supply the vowels.vowels.  It has mistakenly been interpreted as YeHoWaHIt has mistakenly been interpreted as YeHoWaH (Jehovah)(Jehovah)  YaHWeHYaHWeH  Yahweh is often translated as I AM WHO AM. ThisYahweh is often translated as I AM WHO AM. This may also be interpreted as: I AM THE ONE WHOmay also be interpreted as: I AM THE ONE WHO WILL BE THERE WITH YOU ... IN THE WAY IWILL BE THERE WITH YOU ... IN THE WAY I WILL BE THERE.WILL BE THERE.
  5. 5. God as LiberatorGod as Liberator  God liberated his people fromGod liberated his people from oppression and slavery in Egypt.oppression and slavery in Egypt.  He entered into a covenant-He entered into a covenant- relationship with them: "relationship with them: "I will beI will be your God, you will be my peopleyour God, you will be my people."."  This covenant stipulates that theyThis covenant stipulates that they honor and worship only one God.honor and worship only one God. (God as a jealous God who cannot(God as a jealous God who cannot tolerate the worship of othertolerate the worship of other gods).gods).  God promised to give them a landGod promised to give them a land they can call their ownthey can call their own
  6. 6.  Thus, from polytheism, Israel turned toThus, from polytheism, Israel turned to henotheismhenotheism. They still believed in the existence of. They still believed in the existence of other gods, but they worshipped only one God -other gods, but they worshipped only one God - YahwehYahweh  There was a gradual development from henotheismThere was a gradual development from henotheism to absoluteto absolute monotheismmonotheism. The prophets (especially. The prophets (especially during the post-exilic period) were the ones thatduring the post-exilic period) were the ones that promoted monotheism. For the prophets there ispromoted monotheism. For the prophets there is only one true God - Yahweh. All the rest wereonly one true God - Yahweh. All the rest were false gods or idols.false gods or idols.
  7. 7. You yourselves are my witnesses, declares YahwehYou yourselves are my witnesses, declares Yahweh and the servant whom I have chosenand the servant whom I have chosen so that you may know and believe meso that you may know and believe me and understand that it is I.and understand that it is I. No God was formed before meNo God was formed before me nor will be after me.nor will be after me. I, I am Yahweh,I, I am Yahweh, there is no other Savior but me... (Isaiah 43:10-14)there is no other Savior but me... (Isaiah 43:10-14)
  8. 8.  The Israelites gradually come to a realization that thereThe Israelites gradually come to a realization that there is only one God, there is no other God but Yahweh.is only one God, there is no other God but Yahweh. Yahweh is not only the God of a tribe or a nation butYahweh is not only the God of a tribe or a nation but of all the nations and peoples.of all the nations and peoples.  The faith of God as liberator of Israel emphasized theThe faith of God as liberator of Israel emphasized the notion of God as the God of Israel. It was thenotion of God as the God of Israel. It was the gradual realization that the God who liberated Israel isgradual realization that the God who liberated Israel is the same God who created the world -- that openedthe same God who created the world -- that opened the way for an absolute monotheism. If God is thethe way for an absolute monotheism. If God is the creator of all things and of all humans, then God iscreator of all things and of all humans, then God is the God of all.the God of all.
  9. 9. God as FatherGod as Father  Although the image of God as father is not central inAlthough the image of God as father is not central in the faith of Israel, it is not altogether absent.the faith of Israel, it is not altogether absent.  The fatherhood of God is not based primarily on theThe fatherhood of God is not based primarily on the idea of God as creator but on God as liberator whoidea of God as creator but on God as liberator who entered into a covenant relationship with Israel.entered into a covenant relationship with Israel.  In Exodus, Yahweh calls Israel as his first born son:In Exodus, Yahweh calls Israel as his first born son: ""So you shall say to Pharaoh: Thus says the Lord: Israel isSo you shall say to Pharaoh: Thus says the Lord: Israel is my son, my first born. Hence I tell you: Let my son go, that hemy son, my first born. Hence I tell you: Let my son go, that he may serve me."may serve me." (Ex 4:22-23).(Ex 4:22-23).  If Israel is Yahweh's first-born son, then Yahweh isIf Israel is Yahweh's first-born son, then Yahweh is Israel's father.Israel's father.
  10. 10.  In Deutero-Isaiah, God is explicitly addressed asIn Deutero-Isaiah, God is explicitly addressed as Father: "Father: "O Lord, hold not back, for you are our father.O Lord, hold not back, for you are our father. Were Abraham not to know us, nor Israel to acknowledgeWere Abraham not to know us, nor Israel to acknowledge us, You Lord are our father.us, You Lord are our father." (Isaiah 63:15-16)" (Isaiah 63:15-16)  The few times Father is used of God, the usage isThe few times Father is used of God, the usage is clearly a metaphor, an image employed to expressclearly a metaphor, an image employed to express some aspect of God's relationship with his people.some aspect of God's relationship with his people. The term expressed the absolute authority of GodThe term expressed the absolute authority of God over Israel and his saving concern and lovingover Israel and his saving concern and loving tenderness towards them.tenderness towards them.
  11. 11. God’s Transcendence & ImmanenceGod’s Transcendence & Immanence  Israel believed in a God that is transcendent -Israel believed in a God that is transcendent - totally above and beyond the world, Whollytotally above and beyond the world, Wholly Other.Other.  Yet this transcendent God is also present in theYet this transcendent God is also present in the world and active in history. This God is alsoworld and active in history. This God is also immanent.immanent.  The problem: how to speak of the immanentThe problem: how to speak of the immanent features of the transcendent God?features of the transcendent God?
  12. 12.  The answer:The answer: anthropomorphismanthropomorphism - picturing God present- picturing God present and active on earth like a human being.and active on earth like a human being.  It also made use of metaphors:It also made use of metaphors: Dabar YahwehDabar Yahweh (the(the Word of God) andWord of God) and Ruah YahwehRuah Yahweh (the Spirit/breath of(the Spirit/breath of God). These concepts represent the POWER of theGod). These concepts represent the POWER of the transcendent God going forth and accomplishing intranscendent God going forth and accomplishing in various ways God's design on earth.various ways God's design on earth.  Closely related to these concepts of Word and SpiritClosely related to these concepts of Word and Spirit is the theme of the Wisdom of God as developedis the theme of the Wisdom of God as developed and presented in the Wisdom literature. Theand presented in the Wisdom literature. The concept of Wisdom here describes God'sconcept of Wisdom here describes God's immanence in creation and in human life.immanence in creation and in human life.
  13. 13.  The concepts of Dabar (Word) and Ruah (Spirit)The concepts of Dabar (Word) and Ruah (Spirit) are literary devices to describe the activity in historyare literary devices to describe the activity in history of the transcendent God whereby he controls andof the transcendent God whereby he controls and directs the destiny of the Chosen People.directs the destiny of the Chosen People.  The immanent activity of God expresses hisThe immanent activity of God expresses his providence and guiding presence in history. It is byprovidence and guiding presence in history. It is by means of this liberating providence that God ismeans of this liberating providence that God is revealed. The history of salvation is also the historyrevealed. The history of salvation is also the history of God's self-revelation, his self-communication.of God's self-revelation, his self-communication.
  14. 14.  God's self-revelation is never immediate and direct.God's self-revelation is never immediate and direct. It occurs by means of something other than God -It occurs by means of something other than God - thru a chosen medium of communication whichthru a chosen medium of communication which becomes God's self-expression, sign, sacrament.becomes God's self-expression, sign, sacrament.  God's Word and Spirit may be considered as God'sGod's Word and Spirit may be considered as God's media of communication and revelation.media of communication and revelation.  They go forth from God but in accomplishing theirThey go forth from God but in accomplishing their purpose they represent the very presence of God.purpose they represent the very presence of God. These media may both be identical with God and atThese media may both be identical with God and at the same time also distinct.the same time also distinct.
  15. 15. Ruah Yahweh - the Spirit of GodRuah Yahweh - the Spirit of God  The concept ofThe concept of Ruah YahwehRuah Yahweh appears in the literatureappears in the literature of Israel in the context of the settlement in the landof Israel in the context of the settlement in the land of Canaan.of Canaan.  The expression represents a symbol forThe expression represents a symbol for transienttransient manifestations of God's power breaking into history guidingmanifestations of God's power breaking into history guiding the destiny of God's people.the destiny of God's people.  This power manifests itself in the charismatic leadersThis power manifests itself in the charismatic leaders of Israel called the Judges, in warriors such asof Israel called the Judges, in warriors such as Samson, and especially in the prophets - theSamson, and especially in the prophets - the NebiimNebiim..  Thus, in Isaiah the Spirit is associated with theThus, in Isaiah the Spirit is associated with the prophetic/messianic mission:prophetic/messianic mission:
  16. 16. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon meThe Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed mebecause the Lord has anointed me He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowlyHe has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly to heal the brokento heal the broken To proclaim liberty to the captivesTo proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisonersand release to the prisoners To announce a year of favor from the LordTo announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our Godand a day of vindication by our God to comfort all who mourn..to comfort all who mourn.. (Isaiah 61:1-3)(Isaiah 61:1-3)
  17. 17.  The prophets proclaimed the coming of aThe prophets proclaimed the coming of a messianic age when there will be a universal andmessianic age when there will be a universal and abiding outpouring of the Spirit of God. Thisabiding outpouring of the Spirit of God. This will be one of the messianic blessings.will be one of the messianic blessings.  The Spirit of God not only manifests God'sThe Spirit of God not only manifests God's liberating presenceliberating presence in history, it also expressesin history, it also expresses God'sGod's powerful activitypowerful activity in creation. Thus, inin creation. Thus, in Genesis we have theGenesis we have the Spirit of God hovering over theSpirit of God hovering over the mighty waters.mighty waters. In the J creation account, we haveIn the J creation account, we have YahwehYahweh breathingbreathing on his creation - thereby givingon his creation - thereby giving him life. The Spirit of God therefore expresseshim life. The Spirit of God therefore expresses Yahweh's creative and life-giving power.Yahweh's creative and life-giving power.
  18. 18. Dabar - the Word of GodDabar - the Word of God  The wordThe word DabarDabar refers to bothrefers to both word and deedword and deed. Unlike. Unlike the english equivalent -the english equivalent - DabarDabar is not merely anis not merely an expression of idea or thought. It is much moreexpression of idea or thought. It is much more powerful. It effects what is says. Thus, in Genesis,powerful. It effects what is says. Thus, in Genesis, when God says "when God says "Let there be light"Let there be light" there was light.there was light.  For ancient Hebrew, when it was said it was done.For ancient Hebrew, when it was said it was done. Saying made a deed, formed a thing, caused anSaying made a deed, formed a thing, caused an objective fact.objective fact.
  19. 19. The meaning ofThe meaning of DabarDabar is best expressed in the passage fromis best expressed in the passage from Isaiah:Isaiah: For, as the rain and the snow come down from the ksy and do noFor, as the rain and the snow come down from the ksy and do no returnreturn before having watered the earth, fertilizing it and making it germinatebefore having watered the earth, fertilizing it and making it germinate toto provide seed for the sower and food to eat, so it is with the word thatprovide seed for the sower and food to eat, so it is with the word that goesgoes from my mouth: it will not return to me unfulfilled, or before havingfrom my mouth: it will not return to me unfulfilled, or before having carried outcarried out my good pleasure and having achieved what it was sent to do (Is 55:10-my good pleasure and having achieved what it was sent to do (Is 55:10- 11)11)
  20. 20. Nearly half of the occurences of the "Word ofNearly half of the occurences of the "Word of God" are prophetic Word/event formula:God" are prophetic Word/event formula: ""The Word of God came to me...The Word of God came to me..." The call of Jeremiah" The call of Jeremiah is paradigmatic of the formula use:is paradigmatic of the formula use: The word of Yahweh came to me, saying,The word of Yahweh came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you;before you came to birth I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the nations." (Jer 1:4ff)I appointed you as prophet to the nations." (Jer 1:4ff)
  21. 21.  God's Word tends to promote the historicalGod's Word tends to promote the historical transformation of a people by "shaping themtransformation of a people by "shaping them up" in quite particular ways. Yahweh's Word isup" in quite particular ways. Yahweh's Word is a more programmatic effective presence of God.a more programmatic effective presence of God.  The Word of God takes people where they areThe Word of God takes people where they are in their own lives, their own times, and theirin their own lives, their own times, and their own histories. It then summons them on thoseown histories. It then summons them on those ground to the creative transformation thatground to the creative transformation that covenant offers.covenant offers.
  22. 22.  There is an intimate connection betweenThere is an intimate connection between Ruah andRuah and DabarDabar. In the creation account, the Spirit of God and. In the creation account, the Spirit of God and the Word of God are collaborative. There is thethe Word of God are collaborative. There is the Spirit's role of disposing the chaos, and the Word'sSpirit's role of disposing the chaos, and the Word's role in naming the particular configuration into whichrole in naming the particular configuration into which the chaos is to be transformed.the chaos is to be transformed.  The fullness of God's immanence and formativeThe fullness of God's immanence and formative presence in covenant history are often experiencedpresence in covenant history are often experienced and described as Spirit and Word. These areand described as Spirit and Word. These are metaphors that interpret and mediates God's effectivemetaphors that interpret and mediates God's effective presence. God makes the world through them, andpresence. God makes the world through them, and redeems history through them.redeems history through them.

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