The Big Story of the Bible, Part 5 - Chapter 4: Formation & Establishment
September 29, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This Fall through these Touchpoint articles I am giving an overview of the Big Story of the Bible. I have two main purposes behind this. First, I want you to read the Bible well. Part of reading the Bible well is being familiar enough with the overarching storyline to be able to fit what you are reading into that bigger picture. Every Christian should become familiar with the Bible. Second, I want you to understand your life and circumstances in light of the Big Story of the Bible. Your life story is woven into the bigger story of the Bible. The better you understand the story of the Bible, the better equipped you will be to interpret and respond to the ebbs and flows of your life. This is your story.
As a review of where we are:
The Prelude covers eternity past, the time before Creation. The members of the Trinity made a covenant with one another, the Covenant of Redemption. This is the thread that runs through the entire history of the world.
Chapter 1 is Creation (Genesis 1-2). In creation, God sets the stage for his grand plan of redemption, making man in his image, establishing a covenant with Adam, and instituting marriage as a living picture of the redeemed relationship he desires with his people.
Chapter 2 is the Fall (Genesis 3). In his wisdom, and as a part of his plan of redemption, God made the world with the potential for sin. The Fall explains what has gone wrong in the world. It also points us to our only hope.
Chapter 3 is Promises (Genesis 3-50). While God had the right to condemn Adam and Eve on the spot, he rather began to give promises that revealed his plan of redemption. These promises, made throughout Genesis to the patriarchs, are rightly called the Covenant of Grace, because the fulfillment of the promises rests solely of God’s gracious faithfulness to keep his promises.
Chapter 4 is Formation and Establishment (Exodus through Judges). We begin to cover larger sections of the Bible now. The formation of Israel as a nation and their establishment in the Promised Land may seem to have little to do with us in the 21st century, but when we consider the movement in the Big Story of the Bible, we see how we are tied into this storyline.
Three significant developments occur in this chapter. First, God multiplies the people of Israel. At the end of Genesis, 70 people of the family of Jacob move to Egypt to escape the famine. When we read the genealogies of the people who leave Egypt in the exodus, there are around two million people. Second, God established his relationship with Israel through the covenant at Sinai. While the Sinai covenant is known for its plethora of laws (over 600 laws), it is still in the vein of the Covenant of Grace that was taking shape in Genesis. The Sinai Covenant (or Mosaic Covenant) emphasizes our need for an atoning sacrifice to cover our sin. Third, God establishes the Israelites in a land of their own. The Promised Land represented God’s gracious provision of rest for his people.
This chapter of the Big Story of the Bible has several implications for us.
- God is using the nation of Israel to bring the Redeemer into the world. The Israelites are our spiritual forefathers. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever” (Rom. 9:4-5). Israel is not just a placeholder in history while we wait for the Christ. God teaches and prepares the world for the Christ through Israel.
- God uses the nation of Israel to teach us about the kingdom of heaven with Christ as King. While Jesus says his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), Old Testament Israel foreshadows his spiritual kingdom. Those united to the King by faith are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9). We can learn about our place in the kingdom of Christ from Israel in the OT.
Israel is a mirror for us to be reminded that we tend to drift. The story of the Israelites in the Old Testament is marked by continual rebellion against and unfaithfulness to their covenant keeping God. Are we that different? Yes, God has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to be more faithful, but apart from the grace of God we will be just as rebellious and unfaithful as the Israelites. They are examples for us “that we might not desire evil as they did” (1 Cor. 10:6).