DECLARATIONS OF ENCOURAGEMENT: Part 3

Last time, back in Part 2, the Israelite ex-slaves were being rescued and redeemed from Egypt and restored to the Promised Land. Soon thereafter God’s presence was abiding with them in the temple that was built for Him. Regretfully this didn’t last. David Platt provided good information about this rebelliousness in his video presentation, “Old Testament Survey.” The Old Testament Scriptures themselves show us how this came about. They also show us the results of this rebellion by the very people who should have adored their God for the way He delivered them.

Because of that rebellion God needed to meet out punishment for their wrongdoing. The ten northern tribes of Israel were abolished because of their sin and shortly thereafter Judah was removed from the Promised Land because of theirs. Thinking in terms of a People, a Place, and a Purpose, David Platt says to look at the differences between First and Second Kings with First and Second Chronicles.

I and II Kings give an account of how the rulers and the people broke their covenant with God. God’s chosen people were to remember their deliverance, what the written events of the Exodus proclaimed. Instead they ignored it all and profaned God’s name and holiness. Because the people broke this covenant relationship with God, God in His Righteousness had no choice but to punish them.        

On the other hand, I and II Chronicles give an account of the same time period but with a different emphasis. The focus was on faith and faithfulness. These books speak more to God’s faithfulness in spite of His people’s unfaithfulness toward Him. It’s a more spiritual account. God gave the people signs of His faithfulness toward them. It gave the His people words of encouragement that helped the slaves from Judah endure the Babylonian captivity. It helped them to repent and turn back to worshiping the one true God. God honored the faith of Daniel and his friends who refused to eat unclean foods. God gave Daniel the visions to interpret the dreams and writings of their captors. God delivered Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the flames of the furnace and God delivered Daniel from the lion’s den.

With those contemporary examples it helped spur the enslaved Israelites’ to great faith and obedience.   Through God’s encouragement and deliverance these ex-slaves returned to the Promised Land and rebuilt the temple. With that done, these same people quickly went about rebuilding the walls to surround and secure it. This explicitly shows everyone throughout time that God can redeem and restore His people and His Kingdom.

God is also providing His people with further written evidence of His ultimate purpose. God was displaying His plan. One can see God’s desire for His people to repent and that His purposes are spiritual in nature.  One begins to see how through repentance, God restores and redeems. Notice how that great Jewish warrior and ruler, David, fell and sinned mightily with the Bathsheba affair. Yet God forgave David, redeeming him, and then calling him a man after Gods own heart.  Then, God made Solomon the wisest man the world had ever known. The book written by Solomon goes on to tell of how a man might succumb to the sameness of life and thinking man’s efforts are futile, a chasing the wind. That is until he realizes how God in his infinite wisdom has called out to men’s hearts, looking for man to become awake spiritually and to ask for the redemption and restoration only God can provide.

What can be understood is how God has used both examples and the power of the written word to help His people grasp His purpose. God desires a people that embrace the concept of God having a ‘Kingdom People’ who follow Him and proclaim His goodness.  The Old Testament, God’s holy written word, provides a description of a people, a place and a purpose where God himself gives these Kingdom People the means to grasp the glory of God’s plan.

However, even with all of those experiences and the written records of those events one finds the Jewish people falling away from God once again. The plan is not fulfilled until Jesus Christ, “The Word Incarnate,” comes to this world and becomes the one time ultimate sacrifice for man’s sin problem.  It is then that God can have a people who are forever followers of Him. God wants to be God to a people who are chosen. They are chosen because these people choose to love God, recognizing that God first loved them and called them to repentance.

So, yet again, one witnesses the God of this universe reaching out to encourage His people to follow Him, in spite of life’s tribulations. The effort wasn’t entirely successful as viewed through the Old Testament. But just you wait.

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