Friday, April 21, 2017

Broken Patterns Repeating.

We have begun a new series of talks called “SENT.” The subtitle of SENT offers a better description. “Finding Your Story in His Story.”

When sin first begun, God made immediate plans for a Redeemer (Genesis 3:15). God further identified His plan to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3). One of Abraham’s grandson’s name was Jacob. God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel” (which means “one who strives with God”). Jacob/Israel had twelve sons, and the descendants of these twelve sons eventually became the twelve tribes of Israel.

One of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his brothers and was taken to Egypt. There, God allowed Joseph to rise to power under the Egyptian pharaoh. Eventually Jacob’s entire family moved to Egypt. Joseph was able to keep them alive during seven years of famine in the region and by doing so preserved the family of the promise. Joseph was a precursor to the Messiah Redeemer in many ways.

After several centuries in Egypt, as God had promised Abraham, the descendants of Abraham/Isaac/Jacob/Israel became a large ethnic group called the Israelites. The Egyptians enslaved them, and they cried out to God for a redeemer. God chose an Israelite named Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land so they could worship God alone.

However, because of their disobedience and grumblings, that generation of Israelites spent the next forty years wandering in the desert between Egypt and the Promised Land. A generation grew up in the wilderness with a new respect for God and His power. This generation had grown up not being seduced by the powers of thousands of Egyptian gods, but rather seeing the work of the one and only true God daily in the provision of food, water, and guidance. In fact, the only food they had ever eaten was manna, supplied each day by God Himself. God led this generation in the form of a pillar of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night, so this new generation grew to know and trust Him alone. Joshua was the anointed leader of this young generation, and he led them to conquer the Promised Land that God had set aside for His people.

Genesis 50:15-21 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.” 16 So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before he died your father gave a command: 17 ‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin—the suffering they caused you.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when their message came to him. 18 Then his brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves!” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people. 21 Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Exodus 1:6-10 Then Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died. 7 But the Israelites were fruitful, increased rapidly, multiplied, and became extremely numerous so that the land was filled with them. 8 A new king, who had not known Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 9 He said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and powerful than we are. 10 Let us deal shrewdly with them; otherwise they will multiply further, and if war breaks out, they may join our enemies, fight against us, and leave the country.”

Through years of battle, the Israelites claimed their land and settled down to raise families. (Today this is the nation of Israel, which occupies the land east of the Mediterranean Sea and northeast of Egypt.) The Israelites cried out to God to give them a king like other nations, and God answered, “No.” They disobeyed and wandered away from Him, so God raised up other nations to bring punishment for their sin. When they repented, He sent leaders called judges to help them prevail against their enemies, and for a time they remained faithful to God. But soon they returned to their wicked ways until calamity struck again. This cycle of sin, suffering, repentance, and deliverance happened over and over, and Israel had many judges. This time of the judges, who included Gideon, Deborah, Samson, and Samuel, lasted for over 450 years.

QUESTION: Do you see any of the patterns of the Old Testament reemerging in today’s culture?

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