Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Bird's Eye View of the Bible - P4 - Exile and Anticipation

As we round out our survey of the Old Testament today, my prayer is that not only have you gained new information, but that you'll see how this porition of God's word can bring about transformation.  The Old Testament comrpises some 77% of the Bible.  Imagine going on a long trip, and getting emails or letters from your family - but only reading 23% of them!  As Christians, we have words written to us from our Heavenly Father, pointing us to Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.  I would encourage the reader to look over the previous blogs, and to use these to share what you learned with others.  God's word is too valuable to be kept bottled up!
Theme Nine: Exile
We touched a little upon this theme yesterday when discussing the theme of Divided Kingdom.  God's people, having chosen to reject God and His word and His prophets, were sent into Exile.  The Kingdom of Israel to the North came to an end in 722 b.c when the Assyrian Empire conquered Israel and carried her people away.  As a people the ten tribes of the North remained scattered.  For those who did return years later, they had intermarried with the Assyrians and thus became what is known in the New Testament as the Samaritans.
The Kingdom to the South, Judah, went into exile for 70 years in Babylon. Through the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, the people of God were sustained.  God purged them of their idolatry and in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi we see the return from Babylon.  God chose to use this portion of God's people to bring about the humanity of Jesus Christ and demonstrated His faithfulness to them. 
As God's people today, we have to remember that God is fair in all His dealings with His people.  He had warned Israel centuries before in Deuteronomy 28-29 of exile if they did not heed His word.  Despite repeated warnings in her history, God's people grieved God enough to where His Holy character could no longer stand their repeated testings of His patience.  Even then, God gave the most glorious promises of restoration in the prophets, reminding us that He who begins a good work in His people will bring it unto completion to the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Theme Ten: Anticipation
For years preachers have made this observation: “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, with the New Testament being the Old Testament revealed”.  How much of what is revealed in the New Testament anticipated in the Old Testament?  With this theme, issues such as Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, the Second coming, the New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit and other key doctrine were predicted and portrayed in the Old Testament. In the 400 years between the close of the Old Testament and beginning of the New, the Jews wrote scores of writings that looked forward to the fulfillment of God's promises.  It is fascinating and necessary to see how much this theme of anticipation helps us to comprehend the Old Testament’s relevance to 21st century life.   
May God bless you dear reader today as you walk with Him