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A Story of Unfailing Love


The story of Ancient Israel in the Old Testament is an account of God’s unfailing, relentless, and passionate love for His chosen people. A group of people who weren’t chosen because of their goodness, but chosen because of God’s goodness, grace, and lovingkindness. Despite using imperfect people to achieve His will – who continuously fell into idolatry, disobedience, and unfaithfulness – we see God’s master plan to redeem the entire world through our saviour Jesus Christ[1] begin to unfold. Together, let’s look at 5 key events in the Old Testament and explore how they are relevant to us today and can be used to encourage our faith, trust, and obedience to God.  

Abraham – The Father of Faith

The story of Israel begins to come into focus when we are introduced to Abraham[2], a man of incredible faith who’s “regular response to God is worship and obedience[3]. Abraham and his descendants provide the redemptive pathway to Jesus for all of humanity[4], and become a focus for God’s plan to introduce a covenant with His chosen people. God promises Abraham that even while his wife Sarah is barren, that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars and that they will settle in a promised land. These promises were not only a commitment to Abraham, but would be a lasting promise to Abrahams descendants also[5].   

How strong is our Faith?

When our situations seem as barren and lifeless as Sarah’s womb, are we able to truly turn to God? To trust and worship Him as Abraham did? Romans 4:20-21 says “Abraham never wavered in believing in God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises”[6].

Exodus – No Longer Slaves

“Exodus plays an especially important role in the rest of the Biblical story, since it tells the basic story of God’s saving his people from bondage and of his giving them the law so that they will become the people of his presence”[7]. We see the miraculous rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt through Moses, and then the covenant law given at Mount Sinai. The Exodus event gives us a revelation of God’s character; His desire for the Israelites to no longer live as slaves, but to live according to the covenant and in right relationship with Him – yet the people display a tendency of complaint and disobedience towards God, resulting in God’s judgment, but also displaying God’s saving mercies.

What are we slaves to?

Priscilla Shirer suggests that “being officially declared free does not automatically take the slave mentality out of a person’s heart and mind”[8]. Have we stepped into the freedom offered by the blood of Jesus Christ? Or are we still living as slaves, ensnared by the enemy’s trap and cycles of sin? Jesus said, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”[9], and we are told to by Paul to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”[10] 

Promised Land – Promises of God

After years of wondering in the wilderness, we see a generation of Israelites arise – who, through the leadership of Joshua – stand firm on the promises of God; taking the land they were promised, living under the law and under the guidance of their creator[11]. God reveals more of Himself through the description of a warrior, and we see success come to the Israelites as God “fights for and wins the battle on behalf of his covenant people of faith”[12]

The psalmist says, “Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.”[13] Through the account of Joshua, we see a generation of Israelites who, even when the situation looks troublesome, hold firm to God’s promises. They seek comfort and strength from them. God himself says to Joshua “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”[14].  Are we letting Warrior God fight for us? And holding firm to his promises through prayer and faith?

Exile – Blessings and Curses

Unfortunately, the people of Israel did not remain faithful to their covenant with God. We see the Israelites continually turning away from God, worshipping false idols and living in deliberate disobedience to God. During this period God provides the prophets who reminded the people of the covenant; many of the prophecies contained warnings of the negative consequences of disobedience.[15] God warns the people – through Jeremiah – of the curses that would be enforced if repentance did not occur. Ultimately the people do not repent and “Judah went into captivity, away from her land”[16], the ultimate curse[17].

We’ve heard it said that we reap what you sow. What is it that we are reaping in our lives right now? The account of the Israelites being sent into exile is a powerful reminder to us that there are always consequences to our actions; through the universal law of reaping and sowing or through deliberate sin which creates separation between us and our Heavenly Father. In Galatian’s we read “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”[18]

Restoration – Redeemed

“Although there was impending punishment, there was also a promised remnant (Isiah 6:13)”[19], and after 70 years of exile the Israelites were restored through a second exodus[20]. We see the faithfulness of God as He once again, brings His chosen people back from exile. In the restoration period God displays His mercy and goodness, but also calls the Israelites back into a place of right relationship with Him; which includes wholehearted worship, obedience to rebuild the temple, and right living according the covenant[21]. At the end of the Old Testament we see a redeemed Israel, waiting for the coming messiah.  

It is only through the blood of Jesus Christ that we are redeemed. In Romans 3: 21-26 it says, “But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”[22]

Out of the many key principles we can take from the Old Testament and story of Israel, one common theme is ‘right relationship’ with God. This includes having unshakeable faith, no longer as slaves to sin, believing and trusting in God’s promises, and living in obedience to God, and finally putting all of our hope in Jesus our redeemer; the one and only way we can have a right relationship with God under His new covenant with us. God provided Jesus as the way to Himself because of His unfailing love for us, Romans 5:10 puts it this way “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son”[23].

Bibliography

Fee, Gordon D and Stuart, Douglas. “How to Read the Bible Book by Book.” Michigan: Zondervan. 2002.

Grey, Jacqueline. “Conclusion”, in Introduction to the Old Testament. Lecture presented at Alphacrucis College, Sydney, NSW, November 2013.

Grey, Jacqueline. “Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi”, in Introduction to the Old Testament. Lecture presented at Alphacrucis College, Sydney, NSW, November 2013.

Grey, Jacqueline. “Them, Us & Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today”. APSS Volume 2, APS Press Sydney, Australia, 2008.  

Shirer, Priscilla. “Fervent: Getting Serious, Specific and Strategic About Prayer”, Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publishing Group, 2017.


[1] Jacqueline, Grey, “Conclusion” (in Introduction to the Old Testament Lecture presented at Alphacrucis College, Sydney, NSW, November 2013)

[2] Jacqueline, Grey, “Them, Us & Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today (Sydney: APS Press, 2008), 136

[3] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, “How to Read the Bible Book by Book”, (Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), 30.

[4] Grey, 136

[5] Jacqueline, Grey, “Them, Us & Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today (Sydney: APS Press, 2008), 139

[6] Romans 4:20-21 (New Living Translation)

[7] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible Book by Book (Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), 42

[8] Pricilla, Shirer, “Fervent: Getting Serious, Specific and Strategic About Prayer”, (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publishing Group 2017) 136

[9] John 8:36 (New International Version)

[10] Galatians 5:16 (New International Version)

[11] Jacqueline, Grey, “Them, Us & Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today (Sydney: APS Press, 2008), 164

[12] Jacqueline, Grey, “Them, Us & Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today (Sydney: APS Press, 2008), 165

[13] Psalm 119:50 (New Living Translation)

[14] Joshua 1:9 (New Living Translation)

[15] Jacqueline, Grey, “Them, Us & Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today (Sydney: APS Press, 2008), 225

[16] 2 Kings 25:21 (New International Version)

[17] Grey, 225

[18] Galatians 6:7-8 (New International Version)

[19] Jacqueline, Grey, “Them, Us & Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today (Sydney: APS Press, 2008), 225

[20] Jacqueline, Grey, “Them, Us & Me: How the Old Testament Speaks to People Today (Sydney: APS Press, 2008), 228

[21] Jacqueline, Grey, “Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi” (in Introduction to the Old Testament Lecture presented at Alphacrucis College, Sydney, NSW, November 2003)

[22] Romans 3:21-26 (New Living Translation)

[23] Romans 5:10 (New Living Translation)

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