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Essay: The Hebrew Scriptures

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  • Subject area(s): Religious studies and Theology essays
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  • Published: January 22, 2020*
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  • The Hebrew Scriptures
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The Hebrew Scriptures involve many stories of God and his interactions with the Israelites. These scriptures depict an almighty God, who is merciful towards his people, but also capable of destruction. There are three passages in particular that display similar interactions and themes. The passages are Exodus 3:1-21, Isaiah 6:1-13, and 1 Kings 19:1-19. In the Exodus passage, Moses is visited by God in the burning bush at the base of Mount Horeb. Here, God promises to save the Israelites from oppression and instructs Moses to lead them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. In Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah sees a vision of God in a temple, surrounded by angels. Here, Isaiah is cleansed of his sins by burning coals, and is also warned of the demise of his people for not following God. In Kings, the prophet Elijah is fleeing persecution and falls asleep under a broom bush. While at this bush, an angel of God feeds Elijah and he then travels for 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb. He talks to God in a cave and is exposed to the power of God through natural disaster and is instructed to anoint two new Kings and a new prophet. The similarities between these passages can help to understand the passages individually, and also the scriptures as a whole.

These passages all share certain similarities. One thing they all have in common is that none of the people speaking to God ever look directly at him. In Exodus, Moses hid his face because he was “afraid to look at God”. In Kings, when Elijah hears the whisper of God, he “pulled his cloak over his face”. In both instances, the prophets seem fearful of looking directly at God, for whatever reason that might be. In the passage from Isaiah, it becomes clear why they may be fearful. When Isaiah sees the vision of God in the temple, he is overcome with a sense of unworthiness. Isaiah remarks, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”. God represents the ultimate embodiment of holiness, and looking at him makes people only realize how they have strayed from God’s will. This also shows people reading that even the prophets of God are not perfect in their pursuit of holiness. Another similarity between the passages is the actions of God in them. In all three passages, God is speaking to a chosen prophet, conveying his plans and wishes for the Israelites. It is then the job of the prophet to spread God’s message and have people listen to them/believe them. This is interesting to note when considering the magnitude of God’s power. He is all powerful, yet chooses to have human beings carry out his plans. He may do this to truly gauge the faithfulness of his people.

In each of the three passages, the responses of the people involved is interesting to note. In the Exodus passage, Moses is initially very skeptical of what God is asking him to do. He does not understand how freeing the Israelites from oppression could be possible. However, God explains to him what to do and he then trusts in God’s plan. In Isaiah, after seeing God’s majesty and being cleaned of his sins, he is eager to convey any message God has for him. This particular message, however, is an ominous one which foretells of the demise of God’s people. In the Kings passage, Elijah is all but defeated, praying that God takes his life. In response to this an angel comes to tend to him, and Elijah embraces this. He then travels to Mount Horeb and tells God of his troubles. God again gives him a message and a plan, and Elijah carries it out without question. These character’s responses to each situation can show a lot about how people in general should put their trust in God. God always has a plan, and it is through faith that people should trust and follow that plan.

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