Thursday, May 14, 2015

Missional Lessons from Israel's Story (Genesis–Nehemiah)

(1) God’s answer to the chaos and tragedy of Genesis 3–11 is to call a new humanity to serve as his missional people to reflect his character to the world. God calls Abraham to be an agent of blessing to all people (Genesis 12:3b). After the deliverance from Egypt, this calling becomes embedded into God's vision for his liberated people (Exod 19:4–6): they will serve as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
(2) God is faithful to his promises and powerful to save. This theme reverberates from God’s interactions with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Exodus from Egypt, protection from enemies, and the return from Exile.
(3) God’s faithfulness and grace is the final word. God’s people act unfaithfully but this does not negate God’s ability to advance his kingdom in advance of the arrival of Jesus the Messiah. Exile was well deserved, but it was a longtime coming as God’s mercy and patience prolonged its arrival. Even when exile deservedly came in 587 BC, it lasted only 50 years (slightly more than a 40 year generation).
(4) Israel’s story demonstrates the potential and snares of living as God’s people among the nations. The key takeaway is the necessity of faithfulness as God’s people embody a missional holiness for the nations.

(5) Idolatry and injustice are the key impediments to faithfulness. God’s missional people must be vigilant against all practices that negate their witness by obstructing their love for God (idolatry) and love for neighbor including a love for creation (injustice).
© 2015 Brian D. Russell
For a fuller treatment of a missional reading of the Bible, see my book (re)Aligning with God: Reading Scripture for Church and World.

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