I've been spending quite a bit of my time in the Old Testament recently. It occurs to me that while archaeologists would love to find genuine remnants of either ark — Noah's Ark, where Feiler begins his book, as well as the Ark of the Covenant — our souls yearn for the discovery of grace. And, believe it or not, grace is all through the Old Testament, just waiting to be discovered!
There's grace in both of those arks. A family is saved from the flood in one and the seat between the cherubim on the other is called the "mercy seat."
And speaking of arks, as an infant, Moses floated in the Nile in a tiny ark of grace. When he returned to Egypt as a redeemer, Moses put his faith in the Passover sacrifice of the lamb. That was, and remains, a monumental statement of grace: We are saved by blood.
In the Greek version of the Old Testament we often read "grace." One such example is when the young woman who saves the Hebrews is said to have found "grace and favor in the eyes of the king" (Esther 2:17). Esther stands as an example for all who want to find "grace and favor" before the King of kings.
Even some of the beautiful poetry of the Psalms can be translated to read "grace" where we might be more familiar with "mercy." Some scholars suggest one of our favorite psalm passages can be translated this way: "Surely goodness and grace will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6).
The reason grace is embedded in the stories, prayers, poetry, and even law of the Old Testament is because grace is who God is. He didn't make grace up on the fly when Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. Just as Jesus has been since the creation, so has been God's grace.
Sure, the Old Testament challenges us with the full picture of God's justice, even just war. Grace must always be understood in balance with all the character of God, as must His justice. As the walls of Jericho fall and one of those Old Testament wars ensues, guess what you find? A woman — a prostitute no less — named Rahab who receives the grace of God and becomes part of the lineage of Jesus!
Still not persuaded? Maybe you still think the idea of grace is hidden in the Old Testament. If so, it's hidden in plain sight! Just consider the well known benediction God gave the priests to place the name of their God on the people:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).
My encouragement to you today is this: Spend time in the Old Testament. You will encounter God and you will find His grace.