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Chapter 7 - In the Midst of Nations
God did not plan to abandon us to the soul strangling fate of warring nations, false religions, and exploitation by our neighbors. In order for God to reach into all the nations of earth with a message that there was an opportunity to be redeemed, God chose a faithful man (Abraham) and made his descendants into the nation of Israel. He would use this nation to tell the other nations about how to be redeemed.
God told Abraham that his descendants would have the land of Canaan given to them. However, it would be over 400 years until the sins of the people living there were so bad, that they would, like the people before the flood, have gained for themselves a judicial sentence of extermination. During this time the descendants of Abraham would be multiplying as slaves in Egypt. When God brought them out of Egypt, he brought them to mount Sinai and made an agreement with them so that they would be his chosen people.
Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. - Jeremiah 2:2
The word ‘espousal’ can be expanded to betrothal in Egypt and marriage at Sinai. A further picture of this covenant or ‘marriage’ (contract, agreement, or testament) can be seen in Exodus.
And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words. - Exodus 24:6-8
The picture of a marriage between Israel and God is further shown in the negative as the nation turned away from God to follow after false religions and is often rebuked by the prophets God sent to the nation for their ‘adultery’.
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. - Jeremiah 3:8
The nation had split in two (Israel and Judah). Ten tribes constituted Israel and remnants of each tribe fled to Judah when God allowed the Assyrians to destroy Israel. Still Judah did not turn from idolatry. As a result God had the remaining nation of Judah taken as slaves to Babylon for 70 years. Upon their return, they finally abandoned idolatry.
The nation of Judah (now called Israel) was supposed to get a new covenant (testament) with God that would bring in a kingdom with the Messiah as king. This was the point at which Israel could be used by God to bring his message of redemption to all mankind.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. - Jeremiah 31:31-34
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