In my last post I compared the birth and growth of the nation of Israel to the development of a child. Israel was born, grew into power and influence, became corrupted, and was conquered by rival nations. Sadly, by the end of the Old Testament history, the political nation of Israel was no more.
What was that all about? It seems a disappointing end to a story that spanned almost two thousand years.
Ah, but it was not the end of the story.
The Old Testament ends on a forward-looking note with the Jewish people anticipating the coming of a Messiah. The prophets had spoken of One who would “…preach the good news to the poor…bind up the brokenhearted…proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the years of the Lord’s favor…” (Isaiah 61:1-2).
They waited for hundreds of years.
Then, one day, in a synagogue in Nazareth during the days of the Roman Empire, Jesus read the above words from Isaiah, “rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:20-21)
And so Jesus announced that the long-awaited Messiah was among them and that the next chapter of God’s story had begun. The Bible is a story of redemption, and even though the nation of Israel failed, God brought the promised Messiah and our Savior, Jesus, out of the Jewish people who still faithfully followed the Lord.
The life of Jesus Christ was the climax of God’s redemptive plan, a pivotal moment in history, the defeat of the kingdom of darkness and the initiation of the Kingdom of God, the paradigm shattering sacrifice of the Son of God for the sins of the world.
The over-arching narrative of the Bible includes repeated works of redemption. Look for a few of them in the following high level outline of the Bible:
- Perfect Creation (Genesis 1-2)
- The Fall (Genesis 3)
- The world gets wildly messed up and is destroyed by a massive flood (Genesis 4-11)
- Out of the one family left after the flood, the world is re-populated and God chooses one man, Abraham, through whom he creates a community of his people. Eventually, the nation of Israel rejects God and is destroyed. (Genesis 12-Malachi 4)
- Out of the Jewish people still following God, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, enters human history as a baby, lives in Galilee, works in his father’s carpentry shop, and then travels the area teaching, preaching and performing miracles. Then, unbelievably, he is crucified, dies and is buried. Even more astonishing is his resurrection three days later. (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) Jesus lives.
- Out of the followers of Jesus infused with power by the Holy Spirit, God creates a community of people to follow Him, the Church (Acts – Jude)
- The world gets messed up again and is judged and destroyed. (Revelation 1-20)
- God makes everything new, and this time it’s forever. (Revelation 21-22)
When we experience loss, failure, sin, disappointment and sorrow, as we will in this messed up world, we need not lose hope. God is still in the business of redemption.
Jesus is our Redeemer. He is the story.
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” Job 19:25