It may be my imagination, but it seems to me that there is a rather large disconnect between our culture’s perception of Jesus the Christ and God the Father. I have read the Old Testament several times and am currently rereading it…slowly (which is the only way unless you want to be totally overwhelmed). The Old Testament is a very difficult book to fully understand but then understanding God in the first place is rather beyond any human’s capacity.
In a picture example: Think of a boat out at sea. The fish see the boat as a mere object that slices through the water. A duck sees the boat as a living thing that is probably harmless, and a seagull way up in the air hardly notices the boat since it is neither a threat nor food. In various positions in our separate lives, we are able to see and understand (to the fullness of our capacity) the wonder and the glory of God, but most of what we “know” we must accept on faith. If you tried to explain to the fish the world of men above the sea’s top layer the poor creature would have no relevant reality to compare with…the duck might have a glimmer more of understanding but not much…and the seagull probably wouldn’t care to understand.
When we read the Old Testament we are looking back at God’s revelation to man from the perspective of humanity of that time. In the story of Jephte who declared to God that he would offer in sacrifice who ever was first to come out his door if he won a particular battle and defeated his enemy, it was his only daughter he saw first. According to his vow he sacrificed his daughter, in a holocaust to God. Now, knowing God in the person of Jesus Christ who said that God did not want the blood of bullocks and vain offerings…one has to wonder if God was really pleased with Jephte despite his sincere effort to offer a worthy sacrifice. In his perspective Jephte undoubtedly thought he was doing the right thing. But much of the Old Testament is told through the filters and from the perspective of a dimly lit understanding. Hence that is why God sent His Son, not because He needed to but because we needed Him to. Jesus Christ is, and must be, the fulfillment of the message the truth of God the Father…or we’d still be offering our daughters as holocausts in an attempt to please the Almighty.
But Jesus did not come to abolish the laws but to fulfill the laws. We are talking about God’s laws…not the ones men added on in an attempt to be more pleasing to God. How we like to tell God what is best! Because we have an imperfect understanding of God we also have an imperfect understanding of goodness itself. But God does not abandon us to mere speculation and doubt. There have been moments from the very beginning when God has clearly manifested His will for us.
One: We have been granted a conscience which, when enlightened with the desire to love and glorify God, goes a long way toward directing our everyday actions.
Two: He did, without question or confusion, declare certain laws…They are known as the Ten Commandments….How many of our children even know them? Not many. Odd, when one thinks that despite doubt and the blackness of confusion God went so far as to make sure we got these right (Moses had to inscribe them twice) yet we do not learn them by heart or teach them to our young people. Would we rather they please God their own way…like poor Jephte?
Three: The Holy Spirit lives but He is more than a voice in the darkness affirming our own thoughts. The Holy Spirit goes where He will and He is not tame. One must be humble and listen. One must seek Him and allow Him to speak in thought, word and action.
Fourth: We have been granted the voices and examples of holy men and women who have gone before us…who have sparked a lighted path for us to follow.
Fifth: We have the teaching and traditions of the Church which in its wisdom had been the guardian of truth for centuries. Humanity may have muffed it up time and time again…but if you look at the documents, the proclamations, the actual teachings and traditions…they have not wavered in their faithful reflection of God’s own will for humanity.
To truly understand the Old Testament one must look at it through the translation which God offers us in His son (A perfect sacrifice wholly without sin). And to truly understand God’s mission for humanity through His Son and the Holy Spirit…one must not forget God, our Father.