Do you want to believe in a God who steps into human history to offer salvation from suffering?
The Torah is how that God first chose to reveal himself.
The Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament. The word Torah has many meanings for the Jewish people, but for us, the Torah is the “books of Moses,” Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
These books seem so irrelevant for us today, in large part because they cannot be supported by the archaeological or historical records. If they aren’t true, then they’re myths and fairy tales that have no meaning for us today, right?
Did God really seek to destroy the earth by causing a worldwide flood? We know there were regional floods, but no worldwide flood. And who wants to believe in that God anyway?
Was Abraham a real person, or a legend? Was he a compilation of figures? I hope there’s some accuracy to that story because a lot of blood has been shed over his inheritance.
Did the Hebrews really cross the Red Sea as Moses held up his staff, holding the waters back? We’re they ever even slaves in Egypt?
What if none of those events (or people) happened? Does that invalidate the entire Bible and destroy Judaism and Christianity (and probably Islam, although I don’t claim to know enough on that)?
These are conversations we need to have and questions that need to be explored. What is the meaning behind these stories?
The stories found in the Torah are about a God who sometimes creates something from nothing and other times, takes what is and reforms it into something new.
The Torah contains the narrative identity of the people who choose to follow a particular God.
Was it their own actual history? Maybe. Was it an identity that God gave them when they were called to be different from those around them? Maybe.
Are there inconsistencies with the timeline and events as we understand them through historical and archaeological analysis? It appears so.
Our problem is that if we want to believe in Jesus, we need to deal with these old stories.
We don’t need to have faith that they’re accurate, but we need to have faith that they matter.
Jesus is the God who called Abraham.
Jesus is the God who called Moses.
It was Jesus who went before the Israelites in the desert.
Even if it’s easier to grapple with those stories as parables, we need to wrestle with them, just like Jacob did. Or maybe he didn’t, I don’t know, but the story is there to tell us that we are blessed when we wrestle with God.
Our faith is not in the historicity of the stories, but in the God who chose to reveal himself through them.