One hundred posts into the Bible in a Year project. Three thousand years of Bible history explored. Time to take a breath and look back at what I’ve learned so far.
God is a promise keeper. God is a covenant-making promise keeper. He began with Noah, but continued with Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and eventually the entire nation of Israel. Some of his covenants are unconditional (no more floods) but others were agreements between God and his people that required their obedience. Though God is eternally faithful to his word, our spiritual ancestors were not. We need another type of covenant.
God gifts us with talents that make us greater. God enabled Noah to build a huge boat and fill it with a zoo of animals. He gave Joseph great wisdom to interpret dreams and save Egypt from starvation. He gave stuttering Moses the power to lead a million people. Joshua became a mighty military commander. Deborah inspired the people to throw off their oppressors. Samson received tremendous strength. David felled Goliath. In each case God’s spirit indwelled these men and women and gave them supernatural ability.
From a man to a family to a nation. In the beginning God appeared to an individual man or woman from time to time, but over time God dealt with the whole family of Jacob, then the whole tribe of Jacob’s descendants, and finally the entire nation of Israel. Once his presence was sporadic, but after he delivered them from Egypt God stayed with them at all times.
Don’t forget to remember. God wants us to remember all his mighty works so our faith will remain strong. He ordained the Sabbath so we would rest and reflect on his goodness. He established a calendar of holy days so that the people would reenact his provision and deliverance every year. He told them to set up stones of remembrance as visual reminders of what he had done. He had Moses write down the Law. He had them build the tabernacle as his permanent dwelling place among them.
The Law: teaching us that we need a savior. The Mosaic Law was an agreement between God and the Israelites that promised unending blessings if they obeyed it and unavoidable curses if they failed to keep it. Though the stipulations may seem strange to us (food laws, clean and unclean things), the people agreed to them, they marked the Israelites as distinct and separate from all other people, and in the end they proved to the people how sinful and unholy they were. Something more would be needed to save man.
The kinsman-redeemer. If there is a superhero in the Bible, he is it. The kinsman-redeemer avenged his family if they suffered any attack, but most importantly he rescued them if they experienced deprivation or hardship. Boaz rescuing Ruth is the best example we’ve seen so far, but he only foreshadows Jesus who must become our human kin so that he can redeem us from our oppression by Satan.
Leave room for God. We want things done now, and often we take matters into our own hands if it isn’t happening soon enough to please us. But some things can only be done by God, and sometimes we must wait for him to act. “Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.” Longfellow
Wait for the end of the story. God has a very long timeframe for his actions, and a longer memory. Sometimes it seems like his promises go unfulfilled, but keep reading and the predicted outcome will eventually happen. We need to read the whole Bible, “the whole counsel of God,” to see this in action. The strange case of Balaam is just one example of how the story is revealed piece by piece throughout the Bible.
The God of the Old Testament is still a God of love. We’ve heard it so often. “The Old Testament God is not like God of the New Testament. He’s a god of hatred and judgment.” But the Bible says otherwise. God declares that he chose Israel because he loves them.
The Promised Land is a strange place. The land of milk and honey was also full of danger and difficulty. It was mountainous and without perennial streams. There would be no easy cultivation as in Egypt. The people would be totally dependent on the spring and autumn rains. God was teaching them to depend on his grace rather than their own power.
Grace will overcome. The downward spiral of Judges and the faithlessness of Israel could make us pessimistic cynics, but the story of Ruth shows that hope is not lost. Our redeemer lives.
The King is coming. Even though Samuel leads the nation valiantly, the people cry out for a king so they can be like all the other nations. They aren’t rejecting Samuel but the LORD. God gives them a king, and through the failings of their human kings the Israelites will eventually learn that the only worthy king is the LORD.