Father Carmichael has challenged us this Lent to pick up our bibles, dust them off, and begin to read them; in particular, the first 5 books of the Old Testament or, The Pentateuch. Remembering that the bible was written by the people of God, for the people of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; The Pentateuch is the Greek term for what the Hebrew’s call the “Torah.” He has suggested that each week we read one book from the Pentateuch’s Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy with the intention this Lent of becoming more loving, compassionate, gentle and merciful. So, how do we approach reading the Old Testament? God wants to make himself known to man by depicting his character, his activities and family album. The unifying theme is one of covenant, of God entering history and restoring us by means of a relationship with him in covenant. The five books highlight, the mercy God has for humanity. The books teach that man was created to worship God and to be in fellowship with him. When we read the bible we must understand that we are not reading a science book or a novel. It is a narrative that is meant to be read with the author’s intention in mind; what the author wanted to affirm and what God wanted to reveal to us, so not to take the passages out of context. Last week’s Gospel highlighted this point, when Satan used verses of Scripture out of context when he approached Jesus in the desert. To help us better understand what we are reading, we need to know the historical context and ask: When was the book written? Who was the intended audience? What was its main purpose and message? The next to consider is the literary context of the book: What kind of literature is it? Is the writing historical, poetic, prophetic, or some other kind of literature? Is the author using analogies, metaphors, or parables to make his point? Reading the footnotes, below the Scripture passages is a great way to understand what the author originally intended and how God is trying to communicate to us in a wholesome way. The footnotes highlight a verse number within the chapter, and may even include a letter. This letter leads to a similar passage with complimentary meaning in another book of the bible. It is important to note that all 5 books of the Pentateuch together show God as the sole Creator and Sustainer of the universe. That God chose the Hebrews as the Chosen People and that they were to mirror the high moral and spiritual qualities and character of God, in order to fulfill God’s will for his people to behave as a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.
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