Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

31 October 2012

How to read ALL of the Bible # 3 - Exodus to Judges

Time passes and Jacob/Israel's descendants become numerous. They are a nation of people, divided up into the 12 tribes of Israel - ten of the tribes named after each of Jacob's sons except for Levi (whose line becomes the priests of Israel, serving amongst all of the tribes) and Joseph (whose two sons Ephraim and Manasseh born to him in Egypt are named as the heads of the remaining two tribes) all living in slavery in Egypt. God uses MOSES to rescue the Israelites from Egypt in order to settle them into the Promised Land. They travel through the Red Sea and then wait on the edge of the Promised Land as God gives them the Ten Commandments and many other laws - laws not to save them because God has already rescued them out of slavery, but laws that will help them to live as God's people.

However the Israelites don't put their trust in God.  They disobey Him and grumble against Him. So they are sent to wander in the desert for forty years until there is a new generation ready to enter the Promised Land under God’s leading. After forty years in the desert God again explains His laws through Moses - that is, how to live as God's people in their new land - and then they are ready to enter the Promised Land.

The Israelites enter the Promised Land and their first job is to take it over. They have been told how far their territory will extend and where the borders will lie.  They have been instructed to take it over completely.  And God promises to be with them every step of the way. However they fail to take it over as instructed, leaving pockets of unconquered land - and within it, communities who follow other gods who lead the Israelites astray.

They live for many years in the Promised Land but it isn't as it should have been. At times they follow God and live under His rule. But then they fall away, get into all sorts of trouble and finally call out to God for His help. He sends someone to lead them out of their bad situation and they live in peace under God for the length of the life of the sent leader. Following the death of the leader they fall away again and so the cycle goes on and on and on, ever worsening with each cycle.

This diagram is from Gospel and Kingdom: A Christian Interpretation of the Old Testament by Graeme Goldsworthy, page 32. (Published by Paternoster Press in 1982)

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