Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Promise Purified

Through the calling out and setting apart of the descendants of Abraham as a new nation (Israel), God is modeling His plans and intentions for a Kingdom community. He begins the community with a promise to Abraham. He perfects that Kingdom community in the crucible of 430 years in Egypt. He then purifies the community, in an effort to make that community His Kingdom model, by giving them 40 years in a wilderness.

Imagine 600,000 plus men with their wives, children, belongings, animals, etc., leaving Egypt and heading to Canaan. If we assumed one wife per man and 3 to 4 children per family, that would be around 2 to 3 million people in the procession. It would normally be about two week journey to Mt. Horeb (the mid-way point) and another 10 to 14 days to Kadesh Barnea, the beginning of the promised land Canaan. Allotting for more time due to the size and organizational needs of moving so many people and goods, let's say it would take them approximately one to two months to get to the Promised Land.

However, due to the disobedience and stiff-necks of the Israelites, God chose to have them wander in the deserts of the Sinai peninsula for 40 years. Later we learn that this was a time where God refined the nation of Israel through fire. It was during this time they learned the ways of warfare. It was a time that a whole generation of rebels passed away. It was also a time in which God taught Israel (the nation) to learn how to be totally dependent upon Him. In the desert, there was nothing to support 3 million people for 4 days let alone 40 years. And yet, God blessed the Israelites ad watched over them through their forty year journey where they did not lack anything. (Deuteronomy 2:7) Even their clothes and footwear did not wear out during this time. (Deuteronomy 29:5)

The Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are excellent summaries of what happened and the laws given to the Israelites through the time Moses led them out of Egypt and to Canaan. These books chronicle the journey, the constant grumblings and rebellion of the people, the intercession of Moses and the punishment and subsequent restoration by God of this strange Kingdom community known as Israel. It moreover shows us how God shapes His people into His unique community through love, discipline, hardships, rewards and even plainly giving to them His expectations of them as His set apart community. He gives them His law - perfect, sweet and refreshing to the soul - through Moses, His servant. He provides for them as they try and follow and He disciplines - harshly yet justly - when they disobey. All of this is done in His plan to purify and perfect this Kingdom community.

Would they become a perfect and completely pure community? Of course not. They were to be however a chosen people, a holy nation a people belonging to God so that they might proclaim and declare His praises to all the other nations.

How would this happen and what would it look like?

Next blog...The Promise Purified: Part 2!

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