Tomorrow is test 2 in my Christian Scriptures class, and it is hard to believe that I have now finished my treatment of the Old Testament. I know, I know, how can you do justice to the OT in half of a semester, and the answer is, you can't. Yet, I am a New Testament guy and I feel the same way about doing the NT in a half of a semester.
One thing that helps with teaching the full Bible in a semester is that I teach it as a story. That way, I can give the broad outlines of the story, look at some pivotal scenes in this story, and try and capture the overall plot of the story. Many of the details must be left out, but as far as the story goes, it holds together.
One thing that I am always amazed about is the tremendous faithfulness of God despite Israel's appalling unfaithfulness. Time and time again the Israelites cease to follow God. They run rampant after foreign gods, slander the commandments, oppress the alien, the fatherless, and the widow, and in general gallivant in utter wickedness. One scene that I find incredibly poignant on this issue is the fact that during Josiah's reign, they find some "book" hidden in the decrepit temple and no one even knows what it is or what was in it.
Yet, over and over again, God remains faithful to his people, Israel. He remembers his covenants, his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to Moses, and David. He even goes so far as to prophesy a New Covenant in which he will fully restore his people.
If the story of the Old Testament sinks in at all, one must say that God's faithfulness outstrips the very worst of the human condition. God's commitment to Israel is absolute. That is why readings of the New Testament that see a new religion, Christianity, as so quickly replacing Israel as the people of God merely for a lack of faith on the part of the former, strike me as disingenuous. If God did not reject his people for being a people and land of "great whoredom" (Hosea 1:2, NRSV), then rejecting his people for missing a Messiah, who by the way did not measure up to most messianic expectations, seems problematic.
So, what is the status of the Jewish people as the people of God? What say you?