Post 41: Genesis, the Jewish Bible and Adventist Studies

The Adventist Review that arrived in our postbox this week, dated on Australia Day (January 26), carries the heart-warming story of how a Jewish girl is reaching her people with the aid of “authentic Hebrew music.”

Rachel Hyman, after a troubled childhood and youth, was baptised in the Richardson (Texas) Seventh-day Adventist Church on 20 May 2000. Then she studied theology in Southwestern Adventist University before becoming a very successful literature evangelist and a literature evangelism leader for the Southern Union Conference. But a new question was forming in Rachel’s mind. Adventist Review observes:

Why, she wondered, were there so few young Jewish Adventists? She concluded that most Jews had never even heard about Seventh-day Adventists, and most Adventists did not know a lot about Jewish culture.

Having a musical background and being able to read Hebrew, Rachel was impressed to record a Hebrew CD and start giving concerts as a creative avenue to share Jewish culture and to give her testimony. After her outreach concerts Rachel places the books The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ beside her CDs. Her first CD, Hebrew Psalms of Light, features a collection of spiritual songs giving insight into the depth and beauty of authentic Hebrew music.

Rachel has already shared her music and her message in Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Germany and Ukraine. It looks like this ministry will expand in the immediate future; her energies also have created, an “Adventist dating site that provides numerous educational resources for those seeking spiritual wisdom on how to follow God in their relationships.”

Rachel’s experience can inspire the worldwide Adventist family. As a Jew, she cherished the Scriptures that we call the Old Testament, and their witness about the Seventh-day Sabbath. It was a high-school friend who explained to Rachel the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament; when she saw how Jesus fulfilled those prophecies, faith began to spring up in her heart.

I have been surprised recently, on a number of different occasions, to learn that Adventists I have long known and valued as friends have Jewish backgrounds. We need to tap into the wisdom of such people as we build bridges of understanding between their spiritual culture and our own.

One thing that all of us can do is seek a better understanding of the Jewish Scriptures. They are the writings that the Apostle Paul tells Timothy are “God-breathed” and “able to make you wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3: 14-17, NIV).

I am very much looking forward to a series of Educational Events that Dr Wendy Jackson (who teaches Systematic Theology and Church History) and I plan for the members of the Avondale College Church and their friends. Insofar as is possible, we schedule these events when students are on campus; that means the first event for 2012 will convene on Sabbath afternoon, March 24, under the leadership of Dr Ross Cole.

Ross graduated from Avondale with a Bachelor of Arts (Theology) degree in 1980. A number of that year’s class have distinguished themselves in ministry and mission, further study and teaching, or in various other pursuits; note, as examples, the careers of Stephen Currow, David Thiele, Lance Tyler, Graeme Humble and Gary Webster. Ross made his mark as a lecturer at what is now Pacific Adventist University, then as a PhD student at the SDA Theological Seminary (Andrews University), and more recently as a senior lecturer in the School of Ministry and Theology at Avondale College of Higher Education. His specialty is Old Testament; those who wish to do so can find his articles in Andrews University Seminary Studies and other journals. One of his research manuscripts is entitled The Sabbath and Festivals: Why Stop at One?

For his March 24 presentation, Ross has chosen as his title, “Reading Genesis in the 21st Century.” This will be a feast of relevance for all of us who want to understand the Word of God and its message for the contemporary world.

Arthur Patrick, 3 February 2012