Continuing with sharing the six model communities that I see in the Bible, number 4 (again in reverse order) is the community of Israel. If you haven't done it lately, go back and read the book of Deuteronomy especially chapters 10 through 26. God calls and sets apart a tiny people, not because of any merit they have, to be His blessing and mouthpiece to all other nations. He starts with "father" Abraham and a promise to make his descendants into a great nation and that "all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Gen 12:2-3). God is to be their God, King and supreme ruler. They are to be His people to declare His praises and glory among the nations.
Isaac, Abraham's son and Jacob, Abraham's grandson, are given basically the same promise that God gave Abraham. Jacob, even with all his faults, is given this honor and given a new name, "Israel", which ironically means "he struggles with God". What a foreshadow of events to come for this nation!
Through a series of shady events that has the makings of a modern soap opera, one of Israel's youngest sons, Joseph, leads his fathers' household down to Egypt. They are 70 in number when they go down. And God uses the Nile valley as a crucible to form His Israel, His beloved people into a nation of over 600,000 men (probably around 3 to 4 million people) in a period of 430 years!
Thus the "community" of Israel comes out of its captivity in Egypt and begins to head towards the promised land, Canaan. Not a small, insignificant tribe but a people of millions. As they went, God, through His servant Moses, gave them His plan for community and said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians..." (Exodus 15:26). And the people agreed! They affirmed before Moses and priests and elders of Israel, "Everything the Lord has said we will do." (Exodus 24:3)
Israel was the model community called to be set apart from all other nations. They were to proclaim that the Lord is God and the only one and true God. They were a community called to love God with all their heart, soul strength. They were to be holy and set apart; a blessing to all nations.
Biblical models of community...The New Heaven and New Earth, the New Testament Church, Israel...
Next blog, the Biblical model of community number 3...