Mission in the Old Testament | Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

Israel had a purpose before the days of Jesus that was more than simply living contentedly in their Country and hurling prophetic judgment at foreigners. There is a consistent theme running through the Old Testament that God’s choice of Israel was intended to benefit the world. Kaiser takes this theme seriously and points out a number of places where we see it come to light.

This book is no where near comprehensive. In fact, I was a little disappointed that even the scriptures he chose to focus on seemed quite random. If you’re interested in this theme, Kaiser’s little book will whet your appetite.

I was unpleasantly surprised by one of his theological assertions. He suggested that Nahum wasn’t genuinely converted. Here’s Nahum’ words:

Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel. (2 Kings 5:15, NRSV)

I’m not sure whether we should understand that as conversion or not, but what bothered me was Kaiser’s criteria for conversion in the Old Testament. Building on the New Testament theme that there is salvation in no other name but Jesus, he teaches that conversion in the Old Testament required a belief in the seed of Abraham that would come to eventually crush the serpent’s head (read: Jesus). That argument seems anachronistic and nit-picky to me. Is not faith in YHWH enough in the Old Testament? Do not the forms of worship foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus?

This book got me thinking about an important theme—Old Testament mission—but left me searching for more.

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