Quartz Hill School of Theology

Appendix 6

The Love of God in the Old Testament

an outline

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)

The Old Testament is the story of love, but often experienced as a love unfulfilled. God remains loving and faithful throughout, while the people of the world, and of Israel especially, show a nearly constant lack of love. Instead, strife and deception reign supreme.

Hear the word of Yahweh, you Israelites,

because Yahweh has a charge to bring against you who live in the land:

there is no faithfulness,

no love,

no acknowledgment of God in the land.

There is only cursing, lying and murder,

stealing and adultery;

they break all bounds,

and bloodshed follows bloodshed. (Hosea 4:1-2)


Love unfulfilled is the theme of Genesis. God expresses his love, but people fail to respond in kind. Its absence, even among family members, is apparent throughout the narrative, from Eve's doubts about God's goodness, to Joseph's sale by his brothers.

Affirmative Inhibitive
reaction to fall fall
flood flood
Abraham Abraham
Isaac Isaac
Jacob Jacob
Joseph Joseph
birth of Moses
Moses flees/in Midian Moses promises deliverance
the Plagues the Plagues
the Reed Sea the Reed Sea
Provision food/water
the Law the Law
Sacrifice Sacrifice
The laws the laws
The census
laws laws
provision/water (20)
Arad Arad (21)
Balak/Balaam Balak/Balaam (22-24)
Moab (25)
The second census (26-27)
Midianites Midianites
inheritance/dividing the land
The book of Deuteronomy is a covenant document, a written contract between God and Israel, first given orally by Moses before the nation entered Canaan. The covenant is entered into because of God's love for the people of Israel (Deut. 7:7-8; 10:12-11:1).
I. Preamble (1:1-5)
II. Historical Prologue (1:6-4:49)
multiple examples of disobedience/death (1:6-3:29)
A call to obedience (4:1-49)
III. Covenant Stipulations (5:1-26:19)
A. Basic Principles (5:1-11:32)
results of obedience results of disobedience
B. Specific Stipulations (12:1-26:19)
results of obedience results of disobedience
Ratification of the Covenant (27:1-30:20)
blessings for obedience curses for disobedience
Dynastic Disposition/Covenant Continuity (31:1-34:12)
The conquest of the land
Israel's success Canaanite failure
Obedience/blessing Disobedience/cursing
The book of Judges illustrates in Israel's early history the workings of the blessing/cursing aspects of the covenant as expressed in Deuteronomy, and the constant failure of the Israelites to maintain a loving relationship with God or with each other.
return to the land
Naomi (schemes)
genealogy to David
1 Samuel - 2 Chronicles
obedience/blessing disobedience/cursing
In the "historical books" (as they are traditionally referred to in Protestantism) Israel's history illustrates the workings of the blessing/cursing aspects of the covenants, ending finally with the ultimate curse of exile.
rebuilding of the temple tribulation/opposition
rebuilding of Jerusalem unhappiness caused by disobedience
The Prophets
restoration for obedience judgment for sin
The central question of Job is "Why does he serve God?" (Job 1:8-11; 2:3-6). Does Job serve God because he truly loves him, or is it simply for the positive material benefits?
The Psalms thank God for his goodness, praise him for his acts, beg for forgiveness, or cry for help against enemies. All the Psalms are dependent on Israel's relation to God in the covenant.
life of wisdom life of folly
life without God
Song of Songs
Erotic human love

From the theology book by R.P. Nettelhorst, Does God Have a Long Nose?

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