A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament Readings (56-87)


[Comments on readings in A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament – chapter by Merrill]  Merrill points to the very heart of the covenant relationship as “fellowship between Yahweh and His people” (p. 57).  I think this is important as one reads and studies the law, because at times it can seem very harsh.  But as one puts the law through this lens, it really does aid the understanding of it – God was so gracious to Israel to even tell them anything about how they can achieve a right relationship with Him, and the same is true for us today.  God is gracious beyond all our own understanding.  The people of Israel are chosen, set apart, not because they were great, but just because God set His love upon them, and one begins to see the concept of the “image-bearer” here, because in being the people of God, Israel was to be like God, in that they were to be holy as He is holy.  I think the more I read the more I am understanding this concept.  It is interesting that I never really have heard anyone articulate it.  It is good to learn more of God’s Word.
One characteristic of Merrill’s writing that maybe is a weakness is that he just states ideas without backing them up.  I realize there is only so much space in a one volume work, but for the more significant issues, I wish he would interact some with those of differing opinions for my benefit as I interact with others.  When he states that Israel would have hope in exile even though they were disobedient to the covenant because the covenant “was based on the unconditional promises of God” (p. 59) I really wonder what a covenantal theologian would say to that.  How would Merrill argue this point?  It really does seem like quite a big issue, but Merrill does not even go into more detail positively, let alone negatively.
Merrill explains, in his section on Deuteronomy, that “the emphasis is not on the universal covenant with all mankind….Rather [it] is on the covenant with Israel” (p. 67).  He then goes on to say that “The call to Israel is not to fill the created earth but to occupy a land” (p. 67).  I wonder how exactly this fits in to the idea that the “Creation Mandate” is the center for the whole Bible. And how does this work also for us, who have been given the mandate to make disciples?  I see that God’s rule has in some sense been forfeited until the end (Rev. 11:15 on page 69), but why Israel?  Why this taking of the land?  Does the Bible explain this explicitly, or is it something that is in-between the lines that we must put together for ourselves?  It would seem that if this is the theme of the Bible, it would be explicate, but I still do not understand fully how this all works out.
When Merrill brings up the form of Deuteronomy (p. 73), I still do not fully understand how this form would aid our interpretation.  Is it just a fact that helps those who do not believe the book was written in the time of Moses?  Or does it have some other usage that would not be able to be found through internal evidence?  Outlining a book normally does not take extra-biblical sources to accomplish.  So why is it brought up?  Especially since it is a covenant renewal text, rather than just a plain covenant (p. 74)?
If friend borrows money and we agree on payment, and he doesn’t pay, is the agreement over?  No!

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