to “God's Love in the Old Testament”. Can I make some comments that
I hope will help you understand how best to use this book.
you lack time, you may wish to read through the 'Recaps' you'll see
on the Contents page to catch the overall theme and message, and then
come back at odd times and read the chapters through. If you are a
serious reader, go for the chapters first of all. To catch the whole
flavour, read the last chapter - but then go through the chapters
to get the detailed argument.
often people ask if there are two Gods, one of the Old Testament and
one of the New. After all, they say, the God of the New Testament
is clearly a God of Love, but the God of the Old Testament seems to
be an angry God of Judgment.
a long-time reader of the Bible, I am left feeling that this sort
of question simply reveals the lack of reading of the whole Bible,
that soon becomes obvious in questioners. The purpose of this book
is to show that when we carefully look at what is actually there in
the Bible and take in what it says, we will realise that there is
NOT this division. The God who is a God of love is as clearly there
in the Old Testament as in the New – and I will prove it! That's what
this book is about.
will see from the Contents page that there are three parts to this
1: Approaching the Bible with Intellectual Integrity & Objectivity
1: Shares what I have learned about people's questioning over the
2: Asks for an objective, ‘scientific' approach to the Bible and
3: Gives an example of a rational approach and then provides some
helps in understanding the veracity of the Bible writers.
chapters are more particularly for those sceptics who tend to challenge
the Bible with little thought or understanding, and so it aims at
stripping away shallow misconceptions. If you consider you have strong
negative views about the integrity of the writers of the Bible, this
is essential reading for you. If you want to help such people, this
is essential reading for you also.
2: Establishing Foundations for Understanding the Bible
4: Introducing Love
5: Questions of Love
6: Introducing Goodness
7: Realising History
8: Realising Revelation
9: God and the Rest of the World
10: Blessed or Cursed, the Choice is Yours
11: The Judgment of God as seen in the Old Testament
4 to 11 are about bringing helpful understanding to just what the
Bible says about overall themes. These then act as foundation stones
to enable us to think more wisely about the specific incidents recorded
in the Old Testament which, critics say, show up God in a bad light.
These will form the content of the rest of the book.
4 to 6 look at the themes of God's love and goodness declared throughout
the Old Testament, which is strange if the critics were right about
God's activities. Chapter 5 may be especially helpful in establishing
what it means to say God is love.
7 & 8 show why, when suggesting that God was involved in bringing
the world into being, it is quite legitimate to suggest that He started
off with primitive man who gradually developed and, as well, why it
was legitimate for God to reveal Himself only gradually.
9 picks up a misunderstanding that says the Old Testament is only
about the Jews, and goes on to show how God was constantly working
outwards through them to the rest of the world.
10 & 11, possibly THE most helpful I believe, for seekers who
worry about God's anger and judgment, seen alongside His blessing
offered as a choice. If you take in the truth of the Bible declarations
you may find yourself with a VERY different understanding which will
help you understand all the subsequent chapters.
chapters in Part 2 provide an essential framework or foundation for
understanding the Old Testament. You may be tempted to jump straight
to Part 3 but if you do you will miss essentials for putting everything
else in perspective.
3: Considering Complaints
chapters in this final part largely speak for themselves. They pick
up particular incidents that seem to upset the critics:
12 & 13 – Was God unkind banning mankind from the Garden
14 – What about the Flood? Was this the act of
a harsh God?
Chapters 15 &16 – Pharaoh
& the Plagues, a sign of a harsh God?
17 & 18 - God's dealings with Israel in the Desert
Chapters 19 to 21 – The invasion
of Canaan, a symbol of a harsh God?
22 - The reasonableness of the Law
23 - An Old Testament Hotch-Potch
24 - Lessons for Learning
of these areas is one that sceptics say reveals a God who is harsh.
I believe a careful examination of the evidence will show
exactly the opposite!
the end of each Part there will be a 'Recap' that forms a brief synopsis
of the chapters within that Part. If
you read nothing else, read these recaps. If you want a fuller explanatory
comment, then please work your way through the chapters. The recaps
will give the overall picture but if you want understanding and the
ability to answer questions of others, then reading the chapters is
essential. As I said above, chapter 24 overviews the whole book from
the view of lessons to be learnt.
hope you find this book instructive, challenging and helpful.
is a big subject for it covers many incidents that sceptics say show
God in a bad light. Those sceptics provide shallow criticisms. If
only they had taken the time and made the effort, they would not be
sceptics. So, this book is all about countering those shallow criticisms
but it will require both time and effort to do it.
the past year or so I have heard, or come across, a number of criticisms
of Christians who are too lazy to find out the truth. This has usually
come with a plea for Christians to read and to equip themselves to
stand up against the tidal wave of shallow attacks by crusading atheists.
I would join my voice to such criticisms and such pleas. Whether you
are a Christian, a seeker or a cynic, I encourage you to climb off
the fence and set yourself a project of working through the material
here to come to a place of informed understanding. We DO have answers.
We just need to look for them. Come with me and join me in what I
have found to be a most rewarding enterprise.