ImmerseBeginnings NLT - Page 344


expects Israel to become a light to the nations. God wants his people to
show the rest of the world what it looks like to live well under God’s rule.
Another critical event in the Exodus occurs when God’s personal presence comes down and inhabits the Tabernacle (a great tent set up at the
center of Israel’s camp). This Tabernacle becomes God’s house in the midst
of his people and is filled with symbols of the earth and sky. It is thus a miniature picture of the cosmos, revealing God’s desire to cleanse and renew
the whole creation and to make his home with us here once again.
God is present with his people in their new land, keeping the promises
he made through Moses. But Israel struggles to honor its covenantal obligations. Throughout the story of Israel, the nation turns away from God again
and again. This breakdown threatens the covenant itself. God is committed
to working through his people. So if they fail, then his restoration project
cannot move forward.
But this story is full of God’s surprises. Along the way, God establishes a
further covenant with Israel’s king David. God assures David of a dynasty of
kings on which the promises and hopes of Israel will be concentrated. The
destiny of Israel as the beginning of God’s new humanity is now focused here.
However, the people of Israel persist in rejecting God’s covenant—
­ orshiping idols, inflicting injustice on the poor, and looking out only for
themselves. In anger and frustration, God finally intervenes. He exiles his
people from their own land and withdraws his presence from them. Others
now rule over Abraham’s family, and Israel’s role in the divine drama seems
to have disappeared. A key biblical truth is revealed here: There can be no
renewal, for Israel or the wider world, until evil and wrongdoing are dealt
with. Judgment is part of setting things right.
The failure of Israel is critical for the overall Story. Israel was called to be
the means by which God saves the world, but now the rescue party itself
needs rescuing. Everything God intended for his people—indeed, for the
entire creation—now seems in doubt.
God sees everything that has gone wrong. But wrongdoing, violence,
and death will not get the last word—not in God’s Story. He has another
promise. Through his prophets, God brings a vision of a new future, one
aligned with his founding purpose. He will establish a new covenant, one
that completes and surpasses all the covenants that came before. God
himself will return to his people and restore them. They will be the light
they were always meant to be. So the people wait—praying, worshiping,
longing—for one more promise to come true.
4. The Story of Messiah Jesus
By the first century ad, Israel had been suffering under foreign rule for centuries. Now subjugated by the Roman Empire, God’s people are d
­ ivided

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