The Old Testament is not the easiest collection of books to read through and understand, especially when it comes to how Israel related to the “foreigners” around them. But David Firth gives us a great biblical theology through the former prophets (Joshua-2 Kings) that explains why Israel treated “outsiders” as they did. Were these actions based on ethnicity or something more important?
In this short book, we walk through the former prophets in the Old Testament passage by passage and we see the complex relationship between Israel and their foreign neighbors. The chapter on Joshua was most helpful. Firth explained the often troubling war passages very well, and showed God’s heart for faith and genuine worship through it all. The theme that runs throughout the book is that ethnicity is NOT the key issue, but faithful and sincere worship of and faith in Yahweh.
Foreignness itself is not the problem – it becomes problematic only when it leads away from sincere and faithful worship of Yahweh…At the end of the book (the book of Joshua) Israel can look forward with hope, not because of their ethnic purity but because they have understood that they act only against those people who oppose what Yahweh is doing.David Firth, page 50-51
Serving and worshipping Yahweh is not limited to ethnic Israelites. This is one of the highlights of the book. Firth focuses on those “foreigners” who, because of their worship and devotion to Yahweh, are more Israelite than some ethnic Israelites (Rahab, Uriah, Naaman, etc.) These are stories that are easily read through, but this book dives a bit deeper into the truth of what was happening in these passages.
This is such a great resource to have, especially if you are wrestling with difficult passages in the Old Testament. There are also some very practical bits in here as well, since we all wrestle with how to relate to and love those that are not like us, that we would consider strangers. As diverse as our world is, are we seeking to love each other in truth and sincerity?
They wrestled with the challenge of remaining faithful to Yahweh while remaining a community that was open to foreigners but not to foreign worship.David Firth, Page 180
My main takeaway from this book is that God does not discriminate based on ethnicity. He is drawing all people to Himself. His main concern is a faith relationship with His image bearers.
I strongly recommend this one! There is so much to be learned here!
*This book was graciously provided by IVPress in exchange for an honest review.*
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