On the first day of each month we dip into another chapter of John Goldingay’s magnificent . We are in chapter six, “OT Theology: Israel’s Gospel.“God Sealed” is the theme and it deals with the sealing of the Covenant in Exodus 19–24 and beyond.
Goldingay’s book is probably too long for us to read any faster than one chp per month, unless of course you are a student. Furthermore, I’m finding reading one chp per month keeps the book in mind often. This chapter concerns Sinai and the sealing of the covenant with Moses and Israel on the mountain and at the foot of the mountain.
Here’s the secret to this book for me: Goldingay seemingly has the ability to transport us into that day and to experience revelatory moments for what they were in that time instead of how they contribute to our theological system today. Consequently, he routinely pokes in the eyes those who already have the story and their theology figured out.
Exodus 19-24 does not “make” a covenant but seals the covenant already made; it takes that covenant one step further on the basis of what God has already done in liberating Israel from Egypt. Exodus 32, with golden calf incident, repeats Genesis 1-3 in some ways. And Exodus 34 renews our view of God as with us.
An important observation for me was his insistence on seeing God’s word as not timeless but constantly shifting and finding new articulations. He quotes Brueggemann: “it has to be completely non-negotiable, endlessly negotiated.” Thus, “Yhwh will not be the one who merely laid the law down in the distant past. Yhwh will be one who keeps directing them in new situations of need.”
He also plays with God’s relationship to Israel — in its conditional unconditionality and in how God will be both present and not present all the time.
A highlight is with the models of servanthood that we see in Moses (not so much leadership but servanthood): he is leader, prophet, priest, and teacher.
And we have a corresponding model of peoplehood: family, assembly, organization, army, congregation, hierocracy, cult, “a whole,” and a movement that is also a settlement.