What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 16)
Faulty, frail, imperfect Israel had long been waiting at the foot of God’s mountain. There, He brought Heaven to earth in preparation for the journey—and the purpose—of their lives. Through the giving of the commands, the construction of the Tent, and the creation of the priesthood, God introduced His people to the means for the remediation of sin. Not only would it form the foundation for their forgiveness, but the bloody basis for the atonement and reconciliation of the world.
Toward the fulfillment of His now-ancient promise, God had finally prepared Israel to depart from their nearly twelve-month stopover. He reminded the people once again of His faithfulness—that He would remember His covenant with Jacob, Isaac and Abraham; that He would give them the land He pledged to them; and that, even when they would break His covenant, He would never “reject them, nor… loathe them so as to finish them and to break [His covenant] with them” (Lev. 26:44, mjlt). Assured that God would remain ever faithful—faithful even to punish their disobedience—on the 20th day of the second month of the second year since leaving Egypt (Num. 10:11), Israel resumed their desert crossing.
For four decades Israel roamed and slowly died off in the deserts and lands of other peoples—led about by their divinely disappointed custodian. Moses, for his part, would try to keep the peace—urging Adonai to remember His promise to not utterly destroy Israel, while exhorting the people to leave behind their headstrong ways. Being the sons of Abraham, Moses spoke to Israel in covenantal terms, reminding them of their chosenness as the unique people of God. But it would never be enough for them to simply have the defining mark of circumcision in the flesh. They needed also to be God’s people inwardly, with a “circumcision… also of the heart” (Rom. 2:28f). Nevertheless, Israel remained as stiff-necked and stubborn as ever.
Finally, after forty years of waiting—a whole generation gone—it was time to receive the promise. In Moses’ last days, he recounted Israel’s history and journey, reminding the remnant of who they were meant to be, and of what they were about to receive. On the edge of destiny, the people stood before God and entered once again into the covenant He had sworn centuries before to the patriarchs (Deu. 29:10-11). For listening faithfully to God’s voice and being obedient to His commands, Moses assured them that God’s abundant blessings would come upon them and overtake them (28:2). And for being unfaithful to listen to God’s voice, and for being disobedient to His commands, Moses assured them that abundant curses would come upon them—and pursue them, and overtake them to their destruction (28:45). Then Moses put before them one final, clear and simple choice.
See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, in that I am commanding you today to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands and His statutes and His judgments. And you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land where you are going in to possess it. But if your heart turns away, and you do not listen… I declare to you this day that you will be destroyed absolutely…. (Deu. 30:15-18, mjlt)
Soon, Moses would be gone—seeing the promised land only from afar—and a new leader would be appointed to complete Israel’s covenantal conquest. But because the previous generation had begged God to speak to them only through the mouth of their deliverer, in Moses’ absence, God promised to “raise up a prophet to them [like Moses], from among their brothers, [and to] put [His] words in his mouth, and he will speak to them all that which” God would command him (18:18). Israel would not hear that Prophet’s voice for over a thousand years, and they would succeed and struggle, and surmount and stumble, until He who was “truly the Prophet… [would come] to the world” (John 6:14). When that day came, many in Israel still would not “listen to him”—to the “words which he [spoke] in [God’s] Name” (Deu. 18:15&19). Yet tens of thousands of Abraham’s progeny would not only hear Him, but follow… and the word of that Prophet would change everything.
God chose stubborn, rebellious Israel to carry His word to the world—to mediate between God and man, and to reconcile the created ones to their Creator. Remaining true to His covenant, “the faithful God” (7:9) would bring Israel triumphantly into their homeland, and the inheritance promised to their fathers would finally be granted. The God of Faithfulness—the Bringer of wondrous deliverance, the Giver of holy commands, the Maker of everlasting atonement—chose and then worked through Israel, knowing full well that they would continually let Him down (31:21). But what better way to prove to the world God’s unmatched character than to remain faithful to a broken people who so often—and so easily—break faith with Him?
The peculiar people of Israel would soon come to despise God and break His covenant. They would enter into the land which God had faithfully given, and, envying the nations, reject His majesty… for an earthly king.
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