One striking and sometimes dominant theme of modern Biblical scholarship, particularly on the Old Testament, is the similarity of the key stories to this or that other ancient Near Eastern religious myth. It is most assuredly true that there are similar, sometimes strikingly so, stories in the myths of other cultures and scholarship must take this information into account. However, would it not be of greater value to seek out that which has made this LORD God so stunningly distinct?
Why is it, for example, that this LORD God continues to be worshiped by two great and related religions while the other gods of the ancient Near East have disappeared into the mists of time? Does the fact that this LORD God deals with humanity within the context of a relationship that combines moral responsibility and mercy affirm the value of human life in a unique and unmistakable way? And finally, we note that this LORD God has already demonstrated the capacity to suffer for the sins of His creatures, even to the point of overlooking direct insult in order to show mercy. Is this not a stunning departure of character for a God who would demand loyalty and worship? Clearly He does not intend to base this demand on a foundation of fear. On what foundation then does He base it?
To seek answers to these questions is to begin the journey in earnest into “the chief end of man.” For this end is tied up in a valued relationship with the Almighty. Thus the answers will be found within the context of these relationships as captured in Holy Scripture. As we move through the Biblical record will we find a disjointed jumble of unrelated encounters or a sustained, purposeful pattern? We will only be able to answer by taking the journey in prayerful hope, open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and seeking Christ as our only goal.