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Chapter 3 - The False Start Kingdom

There is an example of the nation of Israel being out of step with God when God was leading them out of Egypt and into the land that had been promised to them. Even though they had observed the many demonstrations of Godís power, they were fearful to trust in him for battle. They saw in their own thinking a better plan.

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? - Numbers 14:1-3

Godís anger was appeased by the pleading of Moses such that the rebellious people were not slain. However, God declared that they would wander in the wilderness for forty years because of their reluctance to trust God. The people then decided that they would now invade still disregarding what God had declared. They still could not bring themselves to trust God.

And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you. - Numbers 14:40-43

In a way, Israel is a picture of how often we disregard God and seek to advance our own plans. Several years later the people of Israel became dissatisfied with the Judges God raised up for them. They saw other countries had a king and demanded from Samuel that he give them a king. It was intended that the Messiah would be Israelís king. However, still unwilling to wait upon God, in a desire to be like other nations, Israel demanded a king of their own.

And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. - 1 Samuel 8:5-7

The nation of Israel was given king Saul, then David, and then Solomon. After Solomon, the nation was divided into two parts. Each part had a succession of kings but the nation descended into idolatry and pagan practices so deeply that God had the northern kingdom (called Israel) invaded and destroyed. The southern kingdom (Judah) was taken captive to Babylon for 70 years after which they finally abandoned idolatry.

After the return of Judah (which also included refugees from the other tribes), they lived at the sufferance of and paid tribute alternatively to the Ptolemaic and Seleucid empires. The result of these political, cultural, and military Greek influences was to create a widespread secular perspective. Such that by the time Jesus was born, there were only two people looking for him at the temple, Anna and Simeon. Those who gave any thought at all to the future of the nation may have thought of it less in terms of the promises of God, and more in terms of an alternative to Roman rule.

The Zealots were a political movement in 1st-century Second Temple Judaism, which sought to incite the people of Judea Province to rebel against the Roman Empire and expel it from the Holy Land by force of arms. - Wikipedia

One might understand that any thoughts of a future kingdom might be shaped by stories of the glory of Israel's past such as the rule of Solomon. Jesus even uses the common understanding of the grandeur of the past as an illustration.

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. - Luke 12:27

One might see how stories of the past might have grown to mythic proportions in the minds of most Israelites. This would have been reflective of a mindset that saw a future kingdom in terms of contemporary human possibility more than what God had promised.


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