~By Meg Saunders
“Then God spoke to Noah . . . ‘I establish My covenant with you and with your descendents after you . . . I set My rainbow in the cloud . . . This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth’” (Genesis 9:8,13,17).
“Now the Lord said to Abram . . . ‘I will bless you and make your name great and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (Genesis 12: 1-3).
“I will be Your God and you will be my people” (Jeremiah 7:23).
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
God, thank You that You are committed to us.
What happens when you mess up and rebel? How do you respond? Do you try and run and hide or pretend it doesn’t matter? Do you defend yourself, placing blame elsewhere? Or do you recognize your shortcomings and acknowledge your failure, either with another person or God?
Last week we came face to face with the first recorded story of rebellion and how sin has infected us as humans and the world we inhabit. There is a brokenness and a deep fracture we all experience as a result of sin, but thankfully the its consequences are not the end of the story.
There is something distinct about our creation — we are made in the image of God. And even after the story of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God reiterates that we are made in His image (Genesis 5:1, 9:6). This distinction is not lost after sin contaminates the world. It is an important reminder because sin separates us from God, and therefore, we often forget that we are in fact, made by Him and for Him. God has not abandoned us in our sin. He has a plan, one that is defined by redemption, restoration, healing and wholeness. Almighty God restores the fracture brought about by our choices of sin.
Throughout the Old Testament there are a myriad of stories to illustrate this. Their details are vast, and at times they appear disparate, like a one-off rather than part of a coherent narrative. And yet, they are. Just as our lives are distinct and have meaning, the Bible is written with a vision in mind. There is a purpose for the way God’s story of salvation is told. Think about how your lung cavity rises and falls with each breath you inhale and exhale. The stories of the Old Testament go up and down like our lung chamber. Sometimes the stories are uplifting filled with hope, and at other times . . . not so much. One thing remains the same — God’s presence and His wider plan do not change. A closer look at some of the stories of the Old Testament helps us understand this more.
First, consider the story of Noah. After the flood God initiates something unique with Noah — He promises a covenant with he and his offspring. This is a personal bond — a desire on the part of God to be deeply connected to humanity. Another example of God’s continuing plan for humankind comes with Abram, later renamed Abraham. God blesses him with a blessing — one that is as vast and numerous as the stars in the sky. In other words, God’s vision and purpose is beyond normal comprehension. And to inspire Abraham to trust Him, God literally directs his attention upward to the heavens (Genesis 15:5). Then there’s the story of the Exodus — when Moses (God’s chosen leader) leads the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and to His land of promise: Israel. This is an amazing account of redeeming a nation for covenant with God. It’s declarative. And it is visionary because it includes an entire nation, even for generations to come. Again, God’s action demonstrates His desire for redemption and restoration — one that is seeking the saving of humankind from the bondage of sin and brokenness. Another more prescriptive example of this is the Ten Commandments. We may roll our eyes thinking of the “Thou shall not!” however, in truth they were not designed to constrain us and ruin our lives but given by God to protect us and show us how to live more full lives. Because of them, societies throughout world history have lived more freely as opposed to its opposite: chaos. And so it is for us.
Lastly, the Old Testament solidifies the desire of God to covenant with Israel. The prophet Jeremiah shares God’s heart in 7:23 (see above). God’s message throughout the Old Testament is one of commitment and hope, threaded to a vision of salvation and redemption. From the early pages of Genesis, God does not give up on His creation — He does not abandon His love, design or plan for this world. By the closing books of the OT we see His vision is still alive. Redemption from rebellion, and restoration from fracture are still at the forefront of His plan.
This week there is a lot to think about and read. Perhaps this is the first time you’ve ever heard of God’s redemptive plan woven throughout the pages of the Old Testament. You may want to read the story of Noah, Abraham or the Exodus in more detail. Or flip through the pages of a more prophetic book, like Isaiah or Jeremiah. Either way, as you contemplate all this — personalize it. There is a direct correlation between our sin as humans beings and God’s purposeful plan to address it. The Old Testament tells us God does not give up — even when things are seriously wrong and all seems lost. Share with Him what’s on your heart. Perhaps you’d like to express some confession or thanksgiving. Either way, don’t disassociate from the stirrings within. Rather, let them lead you to Him.
He’s waiting for you . . . .
2011 © First Thoughts, M.V. Saunders
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2011 Winner of Christianity Today’s Award of Merit for Apologetics/Evangelism:
Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith, Francis S. Collins, Meg Saunders
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