In The Heart of the Old Testament, Youngblood expressed his appreciation for the unity of the Holy Bible, meaning that the books in the Old Testament and the New Testament are supplementary to one another. One can appreciate the concept of “unity” in the Bible tracing the similarities in key ideas from one book to another. However, in the book, Youngblood also sought to make a sense of the unanimity of ideas in the Holy Bible by studying the Old Testament. Moreover, in the book, Youngblood drew and outlined the nine predominant themes of the Old Testament. The main objective of this paper is to focus on these nine themes and give a personal reflection about the ideas presented in the text about God as He is perceived or represented in the Holy Bible.
The first prevalent theme in the Old Testament is monotheism, or the idea that there is only one God and the Holy Trinity (God, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit). Moreover, subscribing to a monotheistic religion also includes a strong belief that our God is the powerful creator of the universe and every living thing within it. The idea and story of the creation always amazed and inspired me. Whenever I look around and see people, breathtaking landscapes, or animals with the unique and impressive abilities, I feel in awe of God as the Creator, because I witness the greatness of His power and feel His presence around me.
I believe that God’s creations are evidence of His existence, and appreciating God’s works around us is an acknowledgment of His power as one true God and Creator and His existence. “For the people of God in the Old Testament period, practicing the presence of God was life itself” (Youngblood, 1971, p.10). Moreover, witnessing God’s power in all His creations illustrates sovereignty on his part. “As the Creator of the universe, he was independent of it and unlimited by it. His authority was original and unconditioned, and his jurisdiction over everything and everyone was free and unfettered” (p. 19).
Election is another prevalent theme in the Old Testament. Election refers to God’s practice of sovereignty by making decisions. Although, at times, it is difficult to grasp the reasoning behind God’s elections, we must always trust Him, because He always has a good purpose for making them. Sometimes, we may have questioned, why God allowed certain things to happen to us and even lose the faith, because it seems like God favors other people than us. However, the Old Testament shows us that God always has a purpose, and, despite our worries our concerns, we will learn to understand and accept God’s decisions. He will reveal His reasons for the choices that He makes in God’s own time.
A testimony to God’s faithfulness is His covenant with His people. “The one true God who has revealed himself in the Scriptures and who is sovereign over all creation entered into various covenant relationships with his people as a striking means of furthering his own elective purposes” (Youngblood, 1971, p. 40). Therefore, whenever we doubt Him and His choices, we must keep in mind God’s covenant with His children (Holman Bible Editorial Staff, 2011). However, God expects the same from us. As He has initiated a covenant with us as evidence of his promises, He expects us to keep “our side of the bargain”, and we must do so by always obeying God’s commands. When God made covenants in the Old Testament, which were always sealed with offerings, He expected His people to do their part by obeying the laws He set and following the path He created for them (Gibson, 2006).
God expects us to follow His commands, therefore, He expects us to make decisions, especially as a community or a nation based on His word. Such is the concept of theocracy, another prevalent theme in the Old Testament. Moreover, God wants us to make His words as the law of the land. In this way, we can show our respect and trust in Him. Therefore, God expects us to follow His wishes by abiding by His word as law. However, following the path He carved for us takes great sacrifice. God let His Son die at the cross so we may be redeemed and similarly, we must make sacrifices of our own. We live in a world where temptation broods in every corner, luring us into breaking God’s commandments. In addition, we live in a world that encourages individual satisfaction, that is, the act of putting our needs first before God and other people’s needs. Making the ultimate sacrifice as human beings means that we stay steadfast in our faith in God, knowing that He knows what is best for us and that we put God’s word first before our own. Therefore, through this, we may keep our promise to obey His word.
Nevertheless, making mistakes and committing sin are inevitable. However, God is forgiving and just. He created a way for us to redeem ourselves whenever we fail Him. Redemption is another prevalent theme in the Bible. In the Old Testament, many of God’s children committed grave sins, but God remained forgiving and gave His people the opportunity for redemption. Thus, I believe that redemption is God’s ultimate gift to us. He gave us life, but we cannot assure Him of our faith and trust. However, if we stumble and find ourselves in the wrong path, God offers us the opportunity of redemption through repentance and the chance to make changes in our lives.
Youngblood’s deep study of the Old Testament helps us understand the prevalent themes in the Holy Bible and appreciate the Word of God. Moreover, the themes highlighted by Youngblood offer us a glimpse of God’s purpose for us, motivations in making choices, His promises, and the chances or opportunities He awards us in this life.