“I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God.” (Ex. 6:7)
In my previous article I focused primarily on the promises that God made to the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-Israel. These promises foretold the multitudinous descendants that would over time flow from the seed of those early Fathers. These promises were made by God face to face with the Patriarchs, the same way that God, some four hundred years later, would converse with Moses (Num. 12:6-8). In the previous article we also established that the Biblical focus would henceforth be only with Jacob-Israel and his descendants and none other.
We all know the story of Joseph, how after being sold into slavery by his older brothers, God raised him up in prominence to become the benefactor who took care of Jacob and his family in Egypt during the seven year famine. This sojourn in Egypt turned this family of Jacob from independent herdsmen into slaves of a later Pharaoh. Out of that bondage God delivered them by the hand of Moses, who led them into the wilderness until they reached Mt. Sinai. It is there at Mt. Sinai that God formed the loosely united tribes into a cohesive unit or nation, with Himself as their King. (Ex. 19:5,6) From this point on there is no more direct communication by God, but from that time, all of God’s messages are conveyed by means of intermediaries called prophets.
In Lev. 26, we find one more promise of God, spoken by the mouth of Moses. In verses 3 through 12, God promises to bless this newly formed nation, if they would walk in His ways and obey Him and He, God, makes a statement in vs 12 that is very profound when He says, “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” (Lev. 26:12) But, He says, that if the people will not walk in His ways He will punish or chastise them seven times for their sins. (verses 14-39) God goes on in vs 40-41 that if they confess their sins and accept their punishment He would then remember His covenant with Jacob, Isaac and Abraham. God does not mention the Mosaic or Sinai covenant here because it was conditional, but instead He mentions the Abrahamic covenant because it could not be broken, it was and is unconditional, meaning that it will stand for all time!
We are all very familiar with the history of the Israelite people, how that they over the years, following their Sinai experience, strayed away from God time and time again, to their own detriment and dismay. It is no wonder that David in the Psalms, together with most of the Prophets and including our Lord in the New Testament, refer to these people as sheep, for unless they had a strong leader to guide them along they would inadvertently always stray from their God and serve idols and/or become apostate. The three esses (SSS) surely applied to them, they were stubborn, stiff-necked and stupid. This fact is well documented in the Book of Judges and continued so until the Kingdom was established under King David, but eighty years later when the Kingdom was divided after Solomon’s death, the same poor conditions took hold again. Although God, through His prophets, time and again would admonish His people and pleaded with them to return to Him and walk in His ways, they refused and continued to serve idols and false Gods. Things got so bad that God finally had enough and banished the Israelites from their lands by way of captivity to the Assyrians, and gave them a Bill of Divorcement. None of these Israelites ever did return to their native land and are thereafter lost in the Biblical narrative.
Since the Bible does not mention them anymore they also became lost to the world at large! This puts us in a quandary, for if they are lost, what happens to all the prophecies concerning these people. What happened, for instance, to the prophets’ blessings of Jacob to his sons, especially the ones to Judah, that the sceptre would not depart from him, and the one to Joseph, about his prosperity and greatness. And what about the prophecy of Nathan that the Davidic throne would be established forever? If these people are lost, do these prophecies fall by the wayside? God forbid! Also, if we hold with the modern day view of the Church society that spiritualizes Israel, all the promises and prophecies to and about Israel would be rendered of no value and therefore, ineffective. Still, God changes not and is the same yesterday, today and forever. In the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 34, we find one of the main reasons for Israel’s laxness. It was true then and it is true now. And in the Book of Hosea we find in the first two chapters, the greatest love story ever told. In a following article, we will look at more of God’s promises and prophecies, until we find the people to whom God said, “I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”
Editor: I inadvertently ended last month’s article with, “Now, to avoid misunderstanding of this thesis, I will enlarge on my comments next month.”. These were not Mr. Vermaat’s remarks but were meant to be mine as editor. Apologies to Mr. Vermaat.
As you have already noted, this is a series and it has not been our practice to run them in the past. As editor, I have made an exception here, as the subject is a very important one and Mr. Vermaat is setting it out in a very understandable way.