We are studying the Bible and working our way through many of the introductions! This morning I’ve looked at an Introduction to the Pentateuch from the ESV study Bible. For those who don’t know, the Pentateuch is the name given to the first five books of the Bible. A lot of information to digest, but overall a helpful article to read.
The three things which most resonated with me were:
1) One of the foundational purposes of the first five books of the Bible is to introduce us to God. Who He is, what His character is like and what His ethical standards are. I was particularly taken with the emphasis on His character. One of the things I’m going to be looking out for as I study these books is: what does this story, passage or moment tell me about who God is? Since one of the reasons I’m studying the Bible, is so that I can become more like Jesus, when I spot something of God’s character I’ll be wanting to pray: “Please, make me more like this!”. For a simple example, when I see God generously provide to Adam and Eve food, clothes to wear, relationships, work and even breath to breathe, (even though they will later betray Him), I ask that God make me more generous.
2) This article also touched on the dilemma of historical dating with accuracy. It explained that whilst it was easy to map out certain dates of events in the Pentateuch, such as the Flood (which apparently can be calculated to the day of the week and year!), it is difficult to map out all of the events, such as creation and the exodus. I have always avoided looking closely at the dating of things in the Bible. I know that there are legitimate Biblical cases for both “old-earth” and “young-earth” creation standpoints and that has always been enough to satisfy me. I think the important things aren’t really to do with the dates. But when I read about this, I thought about the many objections to Christianity made by people who don’t believe it, and a lot seems to centre on the creation account. I was challenged that I may need to make more of an effort to educate myself on this aspect. At least to know the arguments better.
I know from studying Systematic Theology, that there is a difference between Accuracy and Truth. For example I could say: “I live close to my office”, or “I live within 5 kilometres of my office” or “I live 4.75 kilometres from my office”… All three statements are true, but clearly one is more accurate than the others. In this way the Bible can be true and yet not “accurate” (at least to the degree we might expect as 21st century western readers!). “Biblical statements”, writes Grudem, “can be imprecise and still be totally true. Inerrancy has to do with truthfulness, not with the degree of precision with which events are reported” (Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology p.92).
3) Finally, the article mentioned that one of the main themes in these books will be the importance of the law and right behaviour. A concept we tend to overlook as Christians, who know we are saved by grace through faith and not by works or our own merits. And yet, Deuteronomy 4:6-8 talks about how it was by observing God’s law that the Israelites could magnify God and communicate His goodness to the other nations. These words are mirrored in the teaching of Jesus who said: ‘let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). Faithful obedience to God is still important for Christians today.
To emphasise this point further I want to share a quote from Dallas Willard, that I saw he tweeted last week:
Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone. You will consume much more grace by leading a holy life than you will by sinning
Please find below my full notes from this article below:
God, I thank you for the work of other Christians to put together this resource for me to use and learn from. May this post further enable others to pursue Your heart. Amen
To God be the Glory