Reading Questions: The Gospel: God’s Mission of Revelation and Communion (Covenant-Relationship) (Middleton, Hicks, Reeves)
- There are several ways to think about the telos (end or purpose) of humanity in Genesis. Over the next few sections, we will explore several in some depth (already introduced in Reeves, Higton, Bauckham, and Wilkens). We will also see that, although humans reject these purposes (sin), Jesus accomplishes these purposes and allows us to share in his true humanity and thereby share in God’s mission (goals or purposes for creation).
SO: Read Genesis 3:8-10 again. After God created Adam and Eve, we see that he wanted to walk with them. What would it mean to “walk with God”?
- Read Genesis 5:18-24. Right in the midst of a long genealogy we learn about Enoch, who “walked with God” – we do not get any more information about what it means to “walk with God,” but it clearly seems to be a very good thing. Unfortunately, it was a very rare thing as well and although humans begin to fulfill God’s command to “multiply” (6:1, compare 1:28), they filled the earth with wickedness, evil, and violence instead of fruitfulness (6:5, 11). Noah, however, was “a righteous man, blameless” who “walked with God” (6:9). So, we begin to get more information about what it means to “walk with God.”
RD: Judging from the story so far, if a person walks with God, what do they not do and what do they do?
- Interestingly, when God calls Abram in Genesis 12:1, the command that he gives him is halakh (walk!), translated “Go…” in English. Later, in 17:1-8, God tells Abram, “Walk before me…” He then connects this walking to one of the key words from this unit’s devotional. Next, Genesis 18:1-19:29, shows what it looks like when someone walks before the Lord (and when a city does not) walk before the Lord.
RD: What key word gets connected to “walking before the LORD” in 17:1-8 and what does it look like when Abraham “walks before the Lord” (18:1-8 and 18:22-33) and when cities do not (18:20-21 and 19:1-11)?
- Middleton showed us that even when sin seems to thwart God’s purposes, God sends a deliverer to set his plans back on track. The Exodus is the paradigmatic deliverance event in the Old Testament. Let’s read a few pieces of the story, taking care to examine how walking (with God), knowledge (of God), and covenant (with God) come together – remember that the Hebrew halakh can be translated as “walk” or “go/went”]. Read Exodus 3:1-4:23; 5:1-5; 6:1-8.
RD: How are walking, knowledge, and covenant related in these passages?
- Moses’ ministry is summarized by his father-in-law, Jethro, in Exodus 18:19-20: “You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases before God; teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way in which they are to walk and the things they are to do.” Here we see that “walking with God” (a very relational term) is connected to the laws and the statutes given to Israel by God at Sinai. Moreover, this walking in the laws and statutes of the LORD is connected to covenant in 19:1-8. This connects to knowledge (and vision) in 33:7-34:10. These key words come together again in Leviticus (another book set at the covenant-meeting of God and the Israelites at Sinai) – read especially 25:55-26:13.
RD: How are walking, knowledge, and covenant related in these passages?
- After the Israelites left Mt Sinai, they wandered for 40 years – years that were remembered both as a time of great trial and a time of walking with the Lord. In Moses’ final sermon (Deuteronomy), we begin to see that covenant and walking connect to knowledge in way that makes the missionary impact more explicit (it is already there in Genesis and Exodus). So, read Deuteronomy 4, paying special attention to verses 5-8. If Israel will keep the statutes of the Lord, the nations will be attracted to the Lord.
D/O: Using the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:1-21), describe what might be attractive to about a community that “walked in the ways of the LORD.”
- After the conquest of the promised land, Joshua renews the exhortation to walk with the LORD (Joshua 22:1-6) and the rest of Israel’s history can be viewed as swerving between times of walking with the Lord in right covenant relationship (times when the nations could look at Israel and know who the LORD is) and times when they break covenant and pursue other gods (times when Israel’s life bears false witness to the nations about the identity and character of the LORD). For a great example of these themes coming together, read about Solomon’s dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 1 Kings 8:1-30, 41-43, and 59-61.
RD: How does Solomon think that “walking in the ways of the LORD” is connected to knowledge of God and the mission of God?
- Israel could not walk with God consistently as a covenant-partner. This failure meant the failure of God’s mission to the Gentiles (to give them knowledge). Both Jeremiah (31) and Ezekiel (36) imagine God activing decisively to solve this problem.
RD: What is the problem behind Israel’s unfaithfulness, what does God propose to do to fix it, and how does this connect to Reeves and other previous readings?
- Isaiah 2:1-5 is a vision of the age to come, the age when God has made everything right.
RD: How are knowledge, mission, and walking related in this passage?
- The earliest church was called “the Way” or “followers of the Way” (Acts 9:2; 18:25-26; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22) and John the Baptist preached about “preparing the way of the LORD” (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23). When Jesus called his disciples he said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 19:21). He also called himself “the way” and said “if you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him” – saying, “Those who love me will keep my word” (John 14:6-7, 15) or “”whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me… If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 10:38 and 16:24).
D/O: How do these pieces fit together when read in light of the Old Testament connections between mission, knowledge, walking, and covenant?
- In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, especially 43-48) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6, especially 27-36), Jesus is very explicit that his disciples are to walk in God’s ways, even to be like God.
D/O: Does Jesus practice what he preaches? (If so, how?) What would be attractive about a community that walked in this way?
- When we think of the “gospel,” people often go to John 3:16 or Paul, but Jesus interprets the meaning of his own death in Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 – an account of the meaning of his life and death supported by Hebrews 8:1-13.
D/O: If the gospel is that Jesus has instituted the new covenant (expected by Jeremiah and Ezekiel), what is new about this covenant, how is the gospel related to “walking in the way,” and what does this have to do with bringing knowledge of God to the nations?
- Read the very short chapter, “Communion as Divine Intent” by John Mark Hicks.
D/O: How convincing is Hicks’ argument about God’s telos (end or purpose) for creation?
- D/O: Compare and contrast Hicks’ argument with the biblical passages we have covered in this section.
- D/O: Compare and contrast Hicks’ argument with Reeves’.
- RD: “Reading Data” – the content of your answer should come from the assignment – your answer is a report on the information contained in it. Cite it simply using APA (Kapic, p. 34).
- SO: “Supported Opinion” – the content of your answer can come from your own head, but it still needs to be supported (with reasoning, illustrations, examples, etc.) from the reading.
- D/O: “Data/Opinion” – the content of your answer should mix data from the assignment and your own reasoning, opinions, knowledge, or experience
- sometimes the data and opinion will be separate and sequential: “Summarize Bockmuehl’s definition of holiness and then explain why you agree or disagree with Bockmuehl.”
- Sometimes the data and opinion could be mixed: “Compare and contrast the popular understanding of ‘justice’ with the biblical account of ‘justice’ presented by Feldmeier.”
For every question, half of your grade consists of the content and half of your grade consists of composition.
- content: do you understand the reading? support your claims with appeal to particulars from the reading, illustrations from your experience, or unfolding your reasoning?
- composition: is your writing clear and cogent? well-organized? correctly spelled? grammatically correct?
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