Example Of Religious Studies Essay
The Old Testament is of great value for the Christians of the 21st century, showing immutable truth that was revealed by the Lord for the sake of personal relationships between the Lord and the mankind. Through His Word we can recognize our spiritual nature and learn the history of man on the Earth. Each part of the Old Testament bears a message that shows us the right and true path.
The Holy Bible is the most important source for the Christians in spiritual, dogmatic and moral meaning. The New Testament is considered to be the essence of Christianity. Thus the question arises: how does the Old Testament help us on our path to the eternity?
In Micah 6, the Lord speaks to His people and appeals to understand His actions and His will, judging Israel and calling on the mountains and hills to witness. The Prophet says that a sacrifice might not be sufficient for the Lord. To emphasize this, he mentions the most generous and rich offerings. The importance of sacrifice is not denied by Micah, but only clarified when the offering gets the value.
The Lord has told people what is good and right and requires them to live by the law. There is no substitute for a good deed; there is no sacrifice that matters more than justice and truth. The people of Israel were shown what was right: justice in deeds, mercy and humility in the face of God.
The Lord appeals to the conscience, the call of duty and the sense of good: “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you?” (NRSV Bible, Micah.6.4). The Lord was always kind and just, taking care of His people. He brought them out of the land of Egypt and sent wise leaders before them.
The Lord also points out the sins of Israel: “Can I forget the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed?” (Micah.6.10). The Lord asks: “Can I tolerate wicked scales and a bag of dishonest weights?” (Micah.6.11). He speaks about the violence and the lies that are eating away at the society. He promises to punish liars: “You shall eat, but not be satisfied” (Micah.6.14). In verses 14 and 15, Micah stresses that the invasion of enemies will cause disasters. In the 16th verse, Micah mentions Omri and Ahab, who have sullied themselves by idolatry and lawlessness. Micah predicts that Israel will become a subject of condemnation for its wickedness.
As in other prophetic books, the Old Testament serves as a measure of righteousness in the book of Micah. People should live in harmony and be guided by the rules of the Scripture in order to be blessed by the Lord. Otherwise, they will be banished from the Promised Land.
The prophet Micah’s speeches are characterized by depth and vividness of language. The prophet points out that the people in both kingdoms have not fulfilled the Covenant and are to be punished. However, this punishment also shows God's love for His people, because one day Israel will have its glory restored.
Like many other prophetic books, the book of Micah is in the form of a poem. He rapidly switches from one thought to another: from an accusation to a threat, from the threat to a consoling promise. He often uses plays on words, comparisons and images. Micah’s prophecies concern the Messiah and they are cited in the New Testament.
The Old Testament as a historical source
The Old Testament is the story of the Jewish people, their moral admonition and their receiving God’s revelation. It is more than just a book. It is the eternal living Word, contributing to our spiritual rebirth and transformation of personality.
The Bible is unique primarily because of its integrity, its writing taking more than 1,500 years - the lifetimes of forty generations. More than forty authors from various social levels participated in the writing of the Old Testament. The books were composed in different places: in a desert, in a prison, on the wild island of Patmos. The prophet David wrote his great psalms during a war and the King Solomon wrote his in a time of peace. Today the meaning of the Old Testament is confirmed by the variety of facts and data that we find in historical, archaeological and linguistic researches.
The Old Testament and self-actualization
Great spiritual wealth of the Church lies in the Old Testament. Here we find parables, biographies and instructive stories that help us to comprehend human nature and understand the Lord. When we study the Old Testament, we form our own personalities as Christians. We should read the Gospel every day. But the Old Testament is the important and essential source and we cannot fully understand the New Testament without it.
The main theme of all Bible books is salvation, with this idea a constant thread going through all Holy Scripture. The Old Testament tells us about salvation in the form of symbols and prophecies about the Messiah and the Kingdom of God. Many generations tried to protect and save the books of the Old Testament because they contained an important message, which we must try to understand.
Certainly, the Old Testament is of great value for literature, history and culture, but at the same time it is not just an ancient artifact in a museum. Its books contain a unique experience of relationship between the Lord and the world. The Old Testament is a living memory about our primary spiritual experience, the first steps of man and his mistakes. Reading the Scripture, we will discover the truth together with the characters.
Scripture is the criterion of truth.
The Old Testament reveals the Lord's plan and His work to save the world. As Christians, we must be able to see things from different angles. Scenes from the Old Testament warn people about the inevitable consequences of wicked deeds. Punishments for sins may seem too severe, but in such a way people are warned about the real threat of sin. Hence, we ought to use the Scripture in order to correct our course of life.
The connection between two Testaments
There is a connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The two Testaments are connected as are the hand and the mind. We may compare the Old Testament with a shape and the New Testament with its essence: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew.5.17). The Old Testament outlines the life of the Messiah, His work and His portrait.
Reading the New Testament through the Old is one of the most important conditions for correct understanding. Christ explains the importance of the Old Testament: “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf” (John.5.39). Naturally in speaking of the Scriptures, He points out the Old Testament. The New Testament was formed many years after Christ and its canon was forming very slowly.
We see parallels between two Testaments - for example, Moses and Christ. Moses ascends Mount Sinai, appears before God and receives the Tables of the Law. Moses descends and passes the tables into the hands of the people of Israel. This Law determined the norms of behavior and the relationship between the Lord and His people. At the beginning of Chapter 5 of Matthew, Christ climbs another mountain in Palestine. He does not take the law from His Father for Christ is the law Himself, the new law of love. He proclaims the law in the form of the Beatitudes - the Sermon on the Mount. Thus, Moses is a prophetic image being connected with the future pursuance of the God's plan for the salvation of the world embodied in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, we also find the image of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah.52.13-53.12), the image of a person totally different from Israel. This Servant would be rejected by his own people, subjected to tortures and humiliated. He will take away the sin of the world, and people will receive salvation through his suffering. This Suffering Servant is Christ Himself. We see an amazing connection between two Testaments in their meaning, symbols and direct prophecies. The importance of the Old Testament lies in this connection.
NRSV Bible New Revised Standard Version. New York: HarperCollins, 2011. Print.
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