The Fourth Movement In The Story: Covenant (Part 1)
The Covenant making God we find in the rest of the Bible is the Sovereign Creator responding to ”the Crisis” and acting to save and restore his creation, now perverted by the treason of the original image-bearers.
By the end of the grand story of the Bible, in what we call the Book of Revelation, the Creator’s covenant making strategy will have put everything right and his wonderful creation will back on track. The cosmos will finally be the sacred space he intended it to be and He, with his image-bearers, will fill it with His glory and joy.
What we call the Old Testament, and the Jews call the Tanach, is a big book and there are many, many things going on within the many layered fourth movement of the grand story. But for our purposes we will highlight 6 key things.
- Abraham and Sarah – Not surprisingly, the fourth movement of the story begins with the Sovereign Creator calling another human couple, Abraham and Sarah, into relationship with himself. Through them He established a people who could learn again how to function as image-bearers in God’s presence and over creation. His goal was not to separate them out as his favorites but to start a process with them that would eventually include the whole world.
- Sacred Space – He also recreated sacred space for his Presence so he could begin to live among humans again, first in the tabernacle and then in the temple in Jerusalem.
- Torah – By giving Moses and the descendants of Abraham and Sarah the Torah, the Sovereign Creator began to teach them how to live with him again as image-bearers, and how they were to bring themselves and then their world into order. The Torah wasn’t really about laws and rules to obey so you could go to heaven, even though many people have misunderstood it that way.
- Exile – The Creator’s plan to restore all things began with Abraham, but he and his descendants were incapable of completing it. Just like the first couple, the progeny of Abraham disqualified themselves through disobedience and rebellion and were eventually driven from God’s presence into exile, just like Adam and Eve had been driven from the garden of Eden.
- Hope – But the sovereign creator did not give up on his plan. He sent prophets who spoke about the coming time when the Good News of His Kingdom would be proclaimed and he would finally put everything right in the world.
- Waiting – Even though the Jews did eventually return from Exile and resettled in the land of Israel and rebuilt the temple, they knew that everything was still not on track.
Nehemiah 9:36-37 Behold, we are slaves this day; in the land that you gave to our fathers to enjoy its fruit and its good gifts, behold, we are slaves. And its rich yield goes to the kings whom you have set over us because of our sins. They rule over our bodies and over our livestock as they please, and we are in great distress.
Three major things made this sad fact evident to the Jews in Israel in Jesus’ time;
- the presence of God was still absent from the temple,
- the Jews were still living as slaves under the thumb of their enemies,
- and the expected return of God’s Kingdom in power had not yet happened.
They were still waiting for the rest of the story but there was a growing expectation that God would soon take action.
This was the situation when Jesus began teaching, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing the sick in Israel.
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