Saturday, February 16, 2013

What is Salvation History? (And what does it mean to me?): First Sunday of Lent

Looking at this week's readings, I am struck by one major theme and that is "salvation history." Salvation history is what we call it when we look at the Old and New Testaments as a whole; The God who freed the Israelites from slavery as the same God who frees His people from their sins on the cross. It is God's relationship with humanity throughout all of time.

The first reading summarizes a major portion of the Old Testament's part of the story. God worked through a "wandering Aramean," meaning the patriarch Jacob. God had promised Jacob's father Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars and they would settle in a land of milk and honey. God lead Jacob to Egypt via the cruelty done to his son Joseph and a famine in the land forcing Jacob to move. When Jacob's descendants are eventually enslaved, God frees them to finally arrive at the land of milk and honey. Our reading shows us how out of gratitude, the Israelites sacrifice the first fruits of their new land to God.

The Temptations in the Desert by Michael O'Brien
Skip hundreds of years and we meet Jesus. The Gospel reading shows us how before Jesus starts his years of ministry, he goes out into the desert to pray (which is, by the way, what we are asked to do during Lent). The devil tempts him, but does not succeed. What does this have to do with salvation history? Well, both Jesus and the devil quote scripture (yes, even the devil can quote the bible). Just like the Israelites in the first reading, Jesus chooses to trust the Lord and see where he is led. We are asked to trust as well in the second reading.

And this leads well into what does salvation history mean to me. I love the Old Testament. (I don't even like calling it the Old Testament because I think it's kind of insulting. I prefer Hebrew Scriptures.) Some people read the Old Testament and they claim to see a hateful, angry God smiting everybody. I don't see that. I see a God deeply and passionately in love with His people. I see a God who works through the craziest of situations and the most unruly of people to make His will be done. This God doesn't contradict in the least with the God we meet in the New Testament. The God who set His people free from slavery is still madly in love with His people, so much so that He gladly suffers and dies for them.

I just started my first "Faith Profile" this evening. Once I get to publishing them you'll be able to find them at Basically, they are interviews where I talk to various people about their faith lives just to see what makes them tick and they say some very interesting things. And to give a spoiler, this first one talks about the vast love, energy and "wonderfulness" of God. That is what salvation history means to me.

The following is an awesome video summarizing salvation history:

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