Recently, as I’ve learned more about the Bible through Seminary and closer study, I’ve been interested in the continuity of the Bible. What Padilla writes on pg. 65 about the New Testament speakers and authors quoting the Old Testament Hebrew scriptures resonates a lot with me. God created this shalom in the beginning, with layers of peace, justice, harmony, grace, joy, devotion, hope, and love, and when all the characters of the old testament have come and gone, and have had a relationship with God, God still cares about that shalom, God desires it greatly. Then the part I really love is that Christ is the ultimate gift of that shalom to the world. God says with overwhelming grace that the world will experience and know this peace and justice and hope and grace and joy and love and harmony… through Christ. God sent Christ to earth to let us all experience that Shalom, and let us know that it is with us, and within us. Paul, and other characters like him in the New Testament tell us that this has been God’s plan from the beginning, to be in harmony with God’s creation, and it is realized in the life of Christ.
The scriptures show us so many examples of what God wanted in this shalom, and sometimes how we did not live into the shalom. Humans living with God in their hearts, minds, and souls, humans living with each other, humans living with themselves in wholeness, and humans living in harmony with the rest of creation. The Old Testament gives us a variety of characters, Moses, Ruth, David, Esther, Absalom, Joseph and his brothers, Job, Jonah, Job’s wife, etc. that show us how to live in this harmony, but also how we have not lived into God’s shalom. What we learn from all these relationships is that God does not give up on us. This is the greatest lesson in justice that we can have, and look to. To see flawed characters who make mistakes but always and continually have God’s grace within them,. And this flows into the New Testament because Jesus is the object of God’s great lesson on Justice. God will not give up, God will continually be there for creation and humanity. God is there to support, to mourn with, to be empathetic, to nudge us into shape and along the right paths, to lighten our burdens, to elevate our values, and to get us thinking in a new light. If God’s relationship with all those Old Testament characters is not a lesson in justice, I don’t know what is. And to make the lesson concrete, God sends Jesus to the world to teach us even more closely, a hands-on approach to justice.
When Jesus rises to heaven the spirit comes. The spirit is with us today. In the lecture I found that I resonated with the idea of Christ as a picture of restoration. In Christ and then the spirit, we can restore our relationships in the world because brokenness and distorted powers are gone. God says from the beginning that shalom is what is important. If we look closely at the whole Bible, and the continuity of God’s purpose, we learn about justice, and we start to learn how to make ourselves whole again as God wanted in the beginning.