All lessons have been copied or edited, and posted with permission from Jim Mcguiggan. You are reading #2 from 8 lessons (#1 In the Beginning, #2 The Servant Nation, #3 Blessing & Rebellion, #4 The Promised One, #5 All Things Made New, #6 The Gifts He Brings, #7 His Love – Our Response, #8 The Church and Its Lord)
God has always been a servant. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Jesus was a servant in going to the cross. Consequently, the body of Christ should view her self as a servant, too.
THE HOMELESSNESS OF MANKIND
The first eleven chapters of Genesis speak of Man losing land! Adam is driven from the garden (3:23). Cain is made a fugitive. He’s removed from the presence of God (4:16). Noah’s generation is driven right off the earth (chapters 6-8). The nations gathered at Shinar were scattered (11:1-10). This loss of land meant more that the loss of property, it stood for loss of fellowship with God. As wanderers from God they were homeless.
This homelessness is at the center of 11:1-10. The nations are wanderers and when they get to Shinar, they feel they have had enough. If God won’t give them a home and a name (companionship and recognition), they will make their own. They will do without God and satisfy their own needs. They said they would make a name for themselves (11:4 ). It would be their city, their tower, their name and they would build and make it themselves. They wished to bring their scattered state to an end (11:2,4 ).
God’s mercy will not allow them to succeed. If they succeed in this rebellion, it will encourage them to pursue more rebellion and self-reliance (11:6). Their arrogance and pride resulted in their inability to communicate with one another and the worst aspects of that division continue to this day! Genesis 11 shows us Man divided against himself and on the run.
ABRAHAM AND MANKIND COMING HOME
In a very real sense, the whole world began the long trek back to God in the person of Abraham. If the history of mankind before Abraham can be summarized as expulsion from land, the new history of Man which God creates with Abraham can be summarized as coming home. Adam is a fit representative of rebellious Man being driven from home. Abraham is a fit representative of faithful Man being called home by God (Romans 4:11 and 5:12-9).
Genesis 11 tells of God scattering the proud and selfish. Genesis 12 tells of God calling a trusting sinner to a home God has prepared for him (Genesis 12:1 with 11:27-32). Now God graciously chooses to give what the nations at Babel tried to create and earn for themselves. They would establish their own land but God would give land. They would make themselves great by making a name for themselves, but God would give greatness and a name to this unknown (Genesis 12:2 and 17:5). They earned judgment (11:6-9) but God would give blessing (12:2,3). They would serve themselves but through one man, God would serve mankind (12:2,3; 22:18).
The choice of Abraham didn’t mean all others were unwanted. God forbid! The choice of Abraham was the means by which all men were to be blessed (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). Joseph is a vivid illustration of all nations being blessed in Abraham’s offspring (see chapters 39-41). Abraham was not an end in himself! Nor was the nation of Israel! Nor is the New Testament Church!
THE CREATION OF A SERVANT NATION
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob died trusting God. One of the twelve sons of Jacob, Joseph, was sold into prison where he became a blessing to Potiphar’s house and to the nations of the Middle East, including Egypt. (Paragraph 6 )
After Joseph’s death a new pharaoh began to oppress Abraham’s descendants just as God had foretold (Genesis 15:13-14 with Exodus 1). This went on for many years until the time was near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham that his children would inherit Canaan. Then, Moses was born (Acts 7:17 and Exodus 2 ). God heard Israel’s cries and began the process of deliverance.
Moses fled from Egypt and settled in Midian where he herded sheep. When he was about 80 years old he had the awesome experience of meeting an exalted representative of God who manifested himself in a bush that burned without being consumed (Exodus 3). He was commissioned to lead Israel to freedom and after a spellbinding series of signs, the Egyptians virtually drove Israel from their land to rid themselves of the judgments of God (Exodus, chapters 4-12 ). Regretting that he let them go, Pharaoh pursued them to the Red Sea (14:5-7) where his armies were destroyed in the sea (14:15-31). Free at last!
Three months later at mount Sinai God gave the terms of a covenant to which Israel vowed obedience (Exodus 19:1-8 and 20:1 through 24:8). Its at this point that Abraham’s offspring became a nation (19:6). They were a priestly nation and a servant nation (Exodus 19:6 and Isaiah 49:6). Priestly, because they would bring people to God and a servant, because they would serve God by serving all nations of the earth. Their life with God was not earned by keeping the Mosaic law—as a graciously redeemed people, their lives were regulated by that covenantal law…GOD’S MODEL FOR THE WHOLE WORLD.
It was out of love God chose Israel (Deuteronomy 7:8-9). Their blessed state was despite their wickedness (Deut. 9:4-21). The land they would inherit was a gift they neither earned nor won (Deut. 9:5 and 6:10-15). This was a message to the nations. Life with God comes by his grace! People didn’t have to be very righteous, very wise, or very strong to live with God—Israel proved that!
The entire worship of Israel was to teach the world about life with God. The center of Israelite worship was a tent where God lived. It was called a Tent of Meeting because God graciously met and talked with his people there. It was called a tabernacle because God chose to dwell among people. (Later the tent was replaced by a more permanent structure—the temple.)
A special priesthood approached God for the people and the high-priest alone could enter the inner sanctuary on one day of the year. So while God was approachable, there were limitations to that nearness. The NT teaches us that these structures and worship procedures were designed to tell us that greater things were coming. A better tabernacle, better sacrifices, priesthood and covenant would come with Jesus Christ.
Their yearly feasts proclaimed that God was a God who rescued (Leviticus 23:42-43). Their Sabbaths spoke of deliverance from slavery (Deuteronomy 5:15) and other things. Their lifestyle was based on the often-repeated truth that they had been slaves in Egypt (Leviticus 19:33,36 and 25:38). In the midst of all the nations they stood marked out as a redeemed people, a graciously redeemed people, who earned nothing but who were to live in light of their redeemed status! This was the message Israel was to proclaim to the world! There was one God who made and cared for all mankind. And as he redeemed Israel from their slavery to Pharaoh, he would redeem Man from his slavery in sin to the Devil!