Relationship in the Lives of Old Testament Saints
Mankind’s story of relationship starts in Genesis 1, when God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. Unlike the beasts, whose brains were preprogrammed to independently perform all the tasks necessary for their survival, humans were not given this faculty. Instead, they were given the godlike ability to feel emotion, make choices, reason and express themselves in complex ways. God could communicate with this creature who could, in turn, choose how to respond to Him.
How soon our first parents abused this special privilege! Instantly, upon their disobedience, their relationship with God was breached. Early in history it became apparent that man was unable to properly fulfill his divinely given responsibility to be the custodian of the earth when his heart was out of tune with His Maker. Rom. 8:22 tells us that the whole creation groans and travails in pain. The earth became “corrupt before God and filled with violence”. Gen 6:11
Had it all ended here, there would have been no purpose for the world to continue. However, the Scriptures tell us that redemption was planned in the Mind of God before the foundation of the world. This Plan was the Sin-bearer, Jesus Christ. Through Him the relationship could be restored! Mankind could again fulfill the purpose of his creation and be in fellowship with his Maker!
The heroes of the Bible are the saints who were the “redeemed of the Lord”. The essence of redemption is to be received back into the family of God and fulfil His purposes on earth and in Heaven.
In the antediluvian world, Genesis chapter 4 mentions the men who built cities, raised livestock, became musicians and developed metal-working technology. However, the really “great” men who merited mention in the New Testament Scripture were Abel and Enoch. Abel, the simple herdsman whose acceptable sacrifice was offered with a righteous heart, pleased God. His fame was reached in the brief years of his life preceding his violent death but only recognized posthumously. Enoch lived a much shorter life than most of his contemporaries. But what marked his well-lived days was the fact that he “walked with God”. He was one of the rare people who realized that to live life to the fullest was not to attain the admiration of men for his accomplishments. Rather, his ambition was to intimately know his God and fulfill His purposes. Jude refers to him as a prophet. So dear was this man to the heart of God that he was spared the trauma of death and ushered into His Presence.
So the Bible narrative continues. Abraham was the friend of God. God shared with him His plans and trusted him to play a great role in His agenda for the nations.
Moses spoke to God face to face. His comaraderie with the Lord of the earth was such that he took it upon himself to stand before God to quell His wrath when He was about to destroy His people. God honoured the pleas and arguments of this bold intercessor.
So intense was the longing of the young man, Joshua, to know the One Who delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, that when Moses left the tabernacle Joshua stayed in the tent to be in the Presence of God. Consequently, he stood as a spiritual giant among his fellows when the multitude stumbled in unbelief.
King David was “the man after God’s own heart” who left behind an ageless legacy of songs which expressed his love, confidence and devotion towards his Creator.
Many of the prophets were bereft of the legitimate joys and pleasures of life. Their portion was to hear directly from God and convey His message to the people. They were willing to bear the reproach, rejection and persecution associated with their calling, knowing that He was worthy Who commissioned them to the task.
The conclusion of all this is that there was not a man of the Old Covenant who did exploits for God who did not intimately know Him. Not only did these saints speak to God in prayer – He also chose to communicate with them.
Bible students too often see the Old Testament as a book of history, laws, poetry and prophecy. Yet, in its message they fail to see the vivid portrayal of a God Who longs for the hearts of the beings which He made for Himself. The history is the drama of this Divine love story. The laws are a reflection of One Who desires to see His creatures live in goodness and harmony. The poetic books are the, tender dialogues of people who are revelling in the joys of belonging to Him. They also contain the words of those who are pouring out their anguished hearts to One Who cares. Much of the prophets’ writings portray the intense emotions of a Divine Lover Who has been betrayed and spurned by His betrothed. Sometimes they are words of judgement; sometimes pleading words to woo her back to Himself. While doctrine is an important part of Scripture, the Bible truly is a book of relationship.
Too many who claim to be “biblical” only have a cold, legalistic understanding of the term. I am attempting to open our eyes to the Heart and Soul of God and His Word. My next post will take us forward to the New Covenant.