Saturday, June 22, 2024
Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTAND FIRM: The Epic Story of Truth (Part 7)

STAND FIRM: The Epic Story of Truth (Part 7)

      In sharing these articles and telling the Bible as one complete narrative, I hope we can see how prophecy and God’s continued plan for Israel fit into Scripture. I also hope the story of truth in Scripture becomes larger, and I hope details in Scripture that don’t seem to make sense or seem irrelevant today in light of the Gentile church become as relevant as they truly are within God’s plan for the ages.

      One of the main topics in the Old Testament that seems completely irrelevant to the Gentile church is the emphasis placed on the land. Have you ever thought about that? The land seems like only an Old Testament thing or just an Israel thing, making it seem completely irrelevant for us, the Gentile church, today. But if it is such a meaningless issue for us, why would that subject dominate so much of the Bible?

      In the next article, we’ll come back to the relevance for us today, but first, let’s bring the issue of the land into the narrative. Two articles back, we left off at the Tower of Babel and Moses’ additional insight that’s recorded in Deuteronomy, in which it’s written that Moses said God gave away the people on earth to these prince angels (Paul calls them principalities or rulers of the air in Ephesians 6). Then God created His own people, His portion or His inheritance through the calling of Abraham. God’s family would become the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — the Israelites.

      Since God formed a new people, He then had to give them land — a home. Part of giving away the people at the Tower of Babel was that people were divided into nations and sent to different territories. This account is found in Genesis 10.

      God wants His people to have a territory and has one in mind when He starts His new people. When He called Abraham, He revealed that there was already a property picked out and called Abraham to go there: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you’” (Gen. 12:1 NIV).

      The necessity of the land came back to the discussion when God sent Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt. He pointed them back to this specific property set aside for His new people: “So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey — the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites” (Exod. 3:7-8).

      God picked a land for His people. In His infinite wisdom, He chose the land we know as Israel today. The land was promised unconditionally — the descendants of Jacob weren’t required to do anything for the land, but God wanted His people to be holy as He is holy. Though the land is God’s and for His people, the land is used throughout history as a tool to guide His people to holiness.

      On their way to the Promised Land, God brought His people to Mount Sinai, where He made a covenant with them. He gave them the Law and, if they stuck to their end of that covenant, they would be blessed and live in the land; but if they disobeyed the Law, they would be cursed and removed from the land: “For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess” (Deut. 30:16-18).

      After spending 40 years in the wilderness or desert, the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament and the gospels, we read about the struggle God’s people had in living in the land. Again, the land was theirs, but they must obey the Law to live in it. The history that unfolds in the Old Testament tells of repeated cycles of obedience and enjoying living in the land, then disobedience, warnings from prophets to return to God and then repentance. As time went on, the sin of Israel continued, despite the warnings of the prophets. The prophets reminded Israel of the covenant made with God. Yes, He had given them the land, but to enjoy it, they had to obey. Prophets warned if Israel didn’t turn back to God, they would be removed from the land.

      What the prophets warned would happen happened. First, the 10 tribes in the north would not repent and were taken captive by the Assyrians and led out of the land. This was followed by the same thing happening to the southern kingdom of Judah. After their unwillingness to turn from their sin and idols and turn to God, the Babylonians were allowed to invade and carry the Jews off to Babylon. Their disobedience led to their being removed from the land, just as God had warned.

      Though they were removed, God kept His promise that the land was for His people. Even though they were exiled from the land, God gave them hope. In that hope, we get a hint of how the land connects to the greater picture. During the Babylonian invasion, the prophet Jeremiah gave a comforting promise of a New Covenant. Through this New Covenant, they’d be equipped to obey the law and live in the land. This term of the new covenant hits home to us, the Gentile church. It is here where we can find the intersection of the land and us today. We’ll look at this intersection in the next article.

      Dive into the Epic Story yourself by reading Genesis 10-12 and Deuteronomy 30.

         — Jake is a state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (standfirmministries.com)

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