Today we will be exploring the topic of trust, and how God has demonstrated himself as being faithful and completely trustworthy through his actions with Israel as revealed in the Bible. The story of Israel is a story about God’s faithfulness. He has demonstrated himself as worthy of trust because whatever he has committed to his people has come to pass. Time and time again he has proven himself as fulfilling what he has promised, whether in blessing or in judgment. In essence, the Bible story of Israel is a type of historical resume that God has provided us.
From a quick online search of definitions, we find that a resume can be defined as “a formal document that provides an overview of your professional qualifications, including your relevant work experience, skills, education, and notable accomplishments.” Now let me quickly add that it certainly isn’t necessary for God to provide us all of that information, since, well, he’s God and can do whatever he wants. It’s not as if he is encouraging us to hire him to be our God from among the choices of other gods that are out there. But isn’t that kind of how we look at this information contained in the Bible? We evaluate it critically against the claims of other beliefs and religious systems out there to see if it is a reasonable system of faith.
Since God certainly has nothing to prove, and yet we still need some sort of understanding of who he is, how does the Bible stack up as a demonstration of God’s “skills and notable accomplishments”?
Well, if we review the story of Israel as related in the Bible books, we find a consistent narrative that has a logical beginning, middle, and ending that has been borne out in time. We can see that there is a flow and a lasting evidence to how God has worked with the nation of Israel within history to help us understand who he is.
The story of Israel begins most notably with the events in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as related in the book of Genesis. After Abraham leaves the Ur of the Chaldees to go to a special place in which God is calling him, his son and grandson, Isaac and Jacob, carry the story forward to the twelve sons of Jacob. In the course of time, they needed to temporarily leave the area that God had called them to due to severe famine. However, God had promised that they would be returning in fulfillment of what he had promised them.
Genesis 28:15 – “Look, I am with you, and I will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
In this vision that Jacob experiences, God recounts the promises made to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac. He promised that they would receive the land, that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth, and that all the tribes of the earth would be blessed through him and his descendants.
Genesis 28:13-14 – “I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. “Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”
Of course, the story reveals that in traveling to Egypt for salvation from the famine, they became a numerous people that began to be a threat to the Egyptians, so they were forced into slavery. God then sent Moses to deliver them, and separate them to himself as his own people.
After the events of the Exodus and the receiving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai, they are relegated to the wilderness in preparation for returning to the land that God had promised them.
As Moses and Aaron pass from the scene, God raises up Joshua to be their leader in purging the land from its pagan atrocities so the land can prosper under the auspices of the torah of God.
Deuteronomy 9:5 – “You are not going to take possession of their land because of your righteousness or your integrity. Instead, Yahweh your God will drive out these nations before you because of their wickedness, in order to fulfill the promise he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
After the battle campaigns, we find that everything had come to pass just as God had promised. On his deathbed, Joshua recounts God’s faithfulness:
Joshua 23:14 – “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know with all your heart and soul that not one of the good promises Yahweh your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed.”
So we can see, at least as far as Joshua was concerned, God had demonstrated himself worthy of faith based on everything that he had promised to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In reviewing God’s resume in relation to the Israelites, we find another historical aspect that has been borne out in time, and still exists to this day. Just prior to the nation entering and taking the land of Canaan, God had set some pretty strict covenantal standards in place. You may recall the blessings and the curses that were pronounced upon them if they were to keep the conditions of the covenant, or if they were to fail in doing so.
Deuteronomy 28:1, 15, 63-65 – “Now if you faithfully obey Yahweh your God and are careful to follow all his commands I am giving you today, Yahweh your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth. … “But if you do not obey Yahweh your God by carefully following all his commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you: … “Just as Yahweh was glad to cause you to prosper and to multiply you, so he will also be glad to cause you to perish and to destroy you. You will be ripped out of the land you are entering to possess. “Then Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. You will find no peace among those nations, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot. There Yahweh will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a despondent spirit.”
Again, we find that both of these examples, the blessings and the curses, have come to pass in the life of the nation.
As they demonstrated faithfulness and maintained worship of the one true God, the nation rose to power in the ancient world, coming to a pinnacle in the lives of David and Solomon. At that time, Israel was not only bountiful within the borders of its own land, but David had also won the peace of surrounding nations who became subservient to Israel, from Egypt all the way to the Euphrates river. This was a monumental territory that was a fulfillment of all that God had promised to Abraham.
Genesis 15:18 – “On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, “I give this land to your offspring, from the brook of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates River…”
Solomon lived to enjoy the fulfillment of that promise.
1 Kings 4:21 – “Solomon ruled all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines and as far as the border of Egypt. They offered tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.”
Sadly, Solomon also lived to see the beginning of the curses of the covenant fall upon the nation, as he himself was the catalyst of events that would lead to the removal of Israel from their territory that God had promised them.
1 Kings 11:4, 6 – “When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to Yahweh his God, as his father David had been. … Solomon did what was evil in Yahweh’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to Yahweh.”
In his later years, his heart went after foreign women and their gods. He began to compromise with the religions of the surrounding nations, and due to his unfaithfulness he triggered the activation of the covenant curses, beginning with his own son.
Upon his death, Solomon’s son Rehoboam inherited the kingdom and infuriated the people with his obstinance. As a result, Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, rebelled and began to rule over ten of the tribes, leaving Judah and Benjamin to Rehoboam. A civil war was to commence that would never be physically healed.
Over the next several hundred years, the country would degrade further into idolatry and rebellion against God, until the ten tribes were finally overpowered by Assyria and removed from the land. Less than two centuries later, Babylon would rise to power and remove Judah and Benjamin from the land. The prophecy that Moses had given to their forefathers came to pass in horrifying reality.
Deuteronomy 28:63-64 – “…You will be ripped out of the land you are entering to possess. Then Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you will worship other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.”
Assyria invaded in 721 BC and Babylon in 586 BC. The Israelites were indeed “scattered among all peoples from one end of the earth to the other.” Even when the Jews in Babylon were allowed to return to Jerusalem 70 years later, many of them chose to remain in Babylon. The ten northern tribes that had been taken by the Assyrians were so widely spread and co-mingled with the nations that they also never fully returned.
Once again, the truth of God and his faithfulness to his word were demonstrated with Israel. Yet there remained a significant and enduring promise that was still to come to pass.
Long after the physical blessings and curses of the covenant had come to pass, there was still a work that God had committed would happen. Beyond the physical promises of a land and numerous people stood God’s promise to the forefathers of Israel that all the families or tribes of the earth would be blessed through their descendants. God had brought a small remnant of his people back to the land to ensure that the final stage of his drama with Israel could still be fulfilled.
One of the other major prophecies that God had declared to Moses was that of a prophet who was to come, who would faithfully speak God’s words within his generation.
Deuteronomy 18:18-19 – “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. I will hold accountable whoever does not listen to my words that he speaks in my name.”
Additionally, God had yet to fulfill a prior prophetic commitment that he had made to Abraham.
Genesis 18:18 – “Abraham is to become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.”
The good news of the Bible is that God fulfilled these promises in the person of Yeshua. As God’s Son, the anointed One, he spoke the words of the Father to his generation of brothers and was appointed the judge who was to hold them accountable to the truth of God’s torah.
John 12:49 – “For I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command to say everything I have said.”
John 8:16 – “And if I do judge, my judgment is true, because it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.”
Additionally, as a true descendant of Abraham’s lineage, he fulfilled every promise and prophecy for the nation, and became the springboard of faith to the rest of the world.
Genesis 21:12 – But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed about the boy and about your slave. Whatever Sarah says to you, listen to her, because your seed will be traced through Isaac…
Galatians 3:28-29 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.”
Just as Isaac was a miraculous son of promise, so Yeshua was a miraculous son of promise. We see the fulfillment of these promises made to Abraham and to Israel through Moses that came to pass in the days of Yeshua. The early believers recognized these promises being fulfilled, and came to faith in Messiah.
Additionally, in recognition of these fulfillments, the apostle Paul reached out to the Israelites everywhere who were still scattered among the nations with the hopes that they would be restored to the one true God, and that as lost sheep they would be restored to the fold. Many did return to the faith of God, thereby fulfilling the torah by becoming a faithful remnant through whom God would reach out to all nations. In the process of these lost and scattered Israelites coming to faith in Messiah, many others of the nations did so also, demonstrating how all nations would be blessed through him.
Every faithful life needs a narrative, otherwise the Bible merely becomes a collection of stories and platitudes. The Bible stands as God’s resume of faithfulness, a narrative corroborated through the annals of history. Through this brief recounting of God’s faithfulness with the nation of Israel, we can see how God has provided us a resume of his accomplishments within the history of his people. We know historically that they were brought dramatically out of Egypt, how they flourished in the land that God had promised them, and yet were ultimately scattered among all nations, even down to this day. We see through these inner workings that God has done all things in wisdom by caring for his people, yet holding them accountable to their covenant. All of this was so that his glory would be made known to the whole world, and that all nations would be able to recognize him for who he is.
Like Paul, we can hold all of this in amazement when we realize the intricate care and detail in how God works all things to his own glory:
Romans 11:33, 36 – “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”
The promises that were made to Abraham and Moses were recognized by the earliest believers in Messiah as coming to fulfillment in Yeshua. They have continued to come to pass up to our day, multiplying believers in the one true God and blessing all of the tribes within each generation of the earth into the future. As we honor God by trusting in him and his Messiah, we demonstrate we are participating in the ongoing consummation of his faithfulness to all people.
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