In Sunday School the stories were sanitized. The flannelgraph figures were all white and the people of Israel were always smiling. Giants were slain by young boys (always boys, never girls) and the people of God always learned their lessons the first time.
I suppose it was appropriate. When I was seven I wasn’t ready to hear about the prophet who was told by God to marry a prostitute, and then when he finally left her because of her shenanigans, God told him to marry her again. Come to think of it, I’m still not sure I’m old enough to hear that one. (But I will deal with it, in a sermon later this month.)
Sunday School got one thing right about all of those Hebrew characters. The Old Testament was not a book about propositions, and its 613 rules were for Israel, not us. The Old Testament is primarily a narrative, a collection of stories. And if you get beneath the well-worn surface of those stories, they pack a real punch.
Over the next six weeks Jen and I will be delving into some of the stories of the OT and the fascinating people behind them. Poor Hosea was hapless and longsuffering. Jonah was a bit of a jerk. And Jacob, well Jacob was all of us – good and not so good and humble and arrogant and manipulative and genuine.
In this series, “Not What You Thought, Stories from the Hebrew Scriptures” we will work from the groundwork Michael Hidalgo created last week when he talked about God’s covenant with Abraham. These are not stories about people who were faithful to God. They are stories of God’s faithfulness to both the deserving and the undeserving. They are stories of God choosing to be faithful, even when we are anything but.
We really hope you’ll join us each Saturday at 5:00 as we go exploring the depths of some truly fascinating stories from the Hebrew scriptures.