Lessons taken from God’s covenant people

And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
Leviticus 26:12 KJV

I wrote last week concerning Damascus and what stayed with me all week was that there needs to be a balance that God always brings which is the Axios, which is the Greek word used in New Testament scripture equivalent to Mishpat which means justice. The Greek word is the scales of justice that must be weighed out fairly with Someone righteous. We have God who is always righteous and just. That is what I sense God doing here in this post.

We looked at Damascus and Syria, along with Assyria and Egypt and the opposition they have been to Israel down the centuries. What we need to do is to understand how God made covenant with Israel seeing a running thread throughout Scripture.

In Genesis 15 God makes covenant with Abraham about his descendants which would become Israel through the prophetic blessing found in Genesis 49, and God fulfilled in the generations what he spoke to Abraham in chapter 15. We see in the end of Genesis how the brothers of Joseph sold him as a slave and he being lifted up as a Governor bringing his family, his father to Egypt. In Exodus we see this family as a nation. God sends Moses to bring them out, being Moses also brought up in Pharoah’s palace.

40 years go by in which Moses had fled from Egypt being that he had had a revelation of who he was and his mission. Exodus tells us the painful journey after the Red Sea miracle where the people had provoked God. We find 3 warnings in Hebrews 3&4 concerning this provocation. God spoke to them, called them near in Priesthood (Exodus 19), yet they rejected Him. They established their own order being that Moses would do what they had rejected. He went up the Mount of God to receive His Law.

6 weeks he was there and when He came down the people had already strayed away from God’s ways. They had made their gods and Aaron made YHWH visible in the Calf.

The Tablets of the Law written by God’s own hand were broken. We see in the midst of the book of Numbers the rebellion and refusal to go over the Jordan and God forgave but excluded a whole generation.

In Joshua we see them enter but we find at the end that the borders specified to Joshua in chapter 1 were not taken to the letter. Judges tells us the consequences of falling short and we see 7 cycles of spiritual revival and decline.

In 1&2 Samuel we see God establish the Kingdom of Israel but not even 2 generations pass before great division occurs between Rehoboam and the peoples. 2 Kingdoms were to exist, Judah and Israel. The way of decline begins where Israel is carried away captive by Assyria (about 722BC) and Judah by Babylon (587BC).

The return came with great stirring of God Ezra 1.1 tells us how God stirred up Cyrus, to 1. declare the return of the exiles 2. Rebuild the House of God.

By the time Malachi prophesies we see already there are complaints God makes to the leaders. We see already decline has come in. Then in the Gospels whilst the common people understood Jesus and received Him, the move of the religious leaders at the end brought about the demise on the Cross. In Luke 19 Jesus was prophesying that Israel was not recognising the hour of her visitation.

The Early Church experienced great persecution of the Jews, not only in Israel but across the Roman Empire. In AD70 Titus invaded Jerusalem and demolished the Temple and spread the people across the known world.

Paul explains in Romans 9-11 the mysteries as to why the Jews rejected Jesus as the Son of David, Messiah. And for 2000 years the Jews were spread far and wide. They suffered in the crusades as enemies of Christ, in the Inquisition, and in the Holocaust. And even today they suffer at the hands of neighbouring nations who wish Israel to disappear. Miraculously turned into a nation in 1948 by UN decree.

I apologise that this has been a long message but it is to bring a real powerful truth. Israel is known for her Covenant that God made with her. However until today the way has been painful, punctuated by great stiffkneckedness, stubbornness, revivals of this covenant, loss of life, massacres, persecutions. Then everywhere Jews settle they also prosper greatly. It harks back to Jeremiah 29:11 where God promises in a context of pain and dispersion. Yet God does not break His covenant. In their rejection of the man Yeshua, they opened the door to Gentiles to access the covenant of Abraham as explained by Paul in Galatians.

As much as people not just Jews have had the touch of God in covenant is not based on any inherent goodness or qualification we may have. The Jews are covenanted to God by Abraham. We are covenanted to Abraham via Jesus the Messiah. What I am touched by is that there is hope, because as much as we read the Word about the stubbornness of the Israelites we are not any different in the Church. Human nature is universal in this world. We all fall short. However, there is a covenant, and how we walk in it at times needs generations of judgment and coercion in our circumstances. The absolute is that God is unchanging and does not break His covenant with us. It is up to us to depend on His Grace by faith to enter in and walk in it.

The motivation of this message is to break a prejudice that can reside in us when we think of Israel as a covenant people. They are in a covenant not by their own merit but by God’s faithfulness and goodness. Its all about God and not about us! The covenant does not make them exclusively God’s favourites. In fact amongst God’s people we have been the most unfaithful. It changes nothing in the covenant. It means we do reap consequences of our unfaithfulness.

The covenant has been extended to us, justification by faith and our work of obedience, to His Call. Let us pray to see that it is all about Him and not us!

This message has been long, but it could only be published because in our humanity we can embrace wrong ideas. May we read scripture and see ourselves. May we remain humble and see we all stray and fail. If it were not for His Mercy and Grace, where would we be?

Shalom.

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