Thursday, April 20, 2017

God's Plan Unfolding

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

Yesterday, we saw when sin first began, God made immediate plans for the seed of a woman to strike the head of the serpent become the Redeemer (Genesis 3:15).

Within just ten generations, the world had become so evil and corrupt that God decided to destroy all people, except for Noah and his family, through a global flood. After the water subsided, Noah’s family began to repopulate the earth, and nations were birthed from each of Noah’s three sons. The nation of Israel would eventually arise from Noah’s son Shem.

God gave a unique promise to a descendant of Shem named Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4). This promise was that, through Abraham’s son, God would set apart a nation that would demonstrate the relationship between God and humanity. As other nations saw this love relationship, they, too, would want to know the one true God. God also told Abraham that the promised Redeemer would be born out of his family line. This chosen nation would eventually be called Israel.
Genesis 12:1-4 The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him,

Exodus 19:4-6 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. 5 Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, 6 and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

In Genesis 12:3, God’s story, His plan to redeem the world began to take shape. God makes a series of promises to Abram and his offspring. These people, who don’t even live yet, exist to serve as the agents of God’s blessings for the nations. Abram and his wife, Sarah, could not have children, so they began to doubt God’s promise. They eventually grew weary of waiting for God’s timing and unfortunately felt the need to “help God out” by having a son through their maidservant, Hagar. This son was named Ishmael. His descendants became the Arab nations. However, twenty-five years after God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, the promised son was born. They named him Isaac.

Isaac had a son named Jacob. After Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord in a dream, 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.

God’s people become the nation of Israel. God’s story of the liberation of Israel from Egyptian bondage and through the forging of a covenant at Sinai is purposeful and is undertaken for the sake of the world. At Sinai, Israel is called to serve as God’s example people, a holy community for the nations (Exodus 19:4-6). The remaining books of the Pentateuch establish a society for God’s people as they prepare to live faithfully in the Promised Land as a witness to the nations. From Joshua to Esther God tells a story of the potential and pitfalls of His people living in Canaan including the devastation of the Exile due to disobedience and the resilience of God’s faithful love shown through God’s restoration of Judah from Exile.

QUESTION: Were you aware that God had a plan to utilize a people He called Israel 450 years before the nation existed?

Please add your comments, thoughts, insights, and stories concerning the today’s devotional in the comments box below:

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