Chapters 5 and 6
One Key Quote
“The yearning for Eden, for a promised land, is hidden in the depths of every human heart. But people are losing hope that such a home even exists.”page 92
Chapter 5: From Slavery to the Promised Land. This chapter is concerned with the story of Israel, from the promises given to Abraham to the nation of Israel standing on the threshold of the Promised Land. It represents a story of family origins. It covers the calling of and covenant with Abraham, where God shows his intention still to bless all nations, to restore humanity. The story of Moses and the Exodus – as they are rescued and adopted by God, when he comes down to lift them up – is the ‘birth story’ of Israel, and foreshadows our salvation in Christ. The calling of Moses, the passing through the red sea, the giving of the law at Sinai, the building of the tabernacle, their new identity as a ‘kingdom of priests’, all tell us something about God’s salvation purpose to make all things new by giving his people a shared sense of belonging, purpose and hope. This longing for such a land, a home, is the hope that is in every human heart and the deferring of it (Prov.13:12) is making many people in our society sick with anxiety.
Chapter 6: From the Promised Land to Slavery. This chapter tells the sad story of the repeated, cyclical pattern of Israel drifting from God, turning to idols, God’s judgment coming, the people crying out to God again and then God raising up a leader to rescue them. They then ask God for a king and eventually lose their sense of identity and purpose as their story becomes more about building their own empire, where the liberated slaves now enslave others, rather than God’s kingdom. At the root of it all is idolatry, and it leads to division. oppression and then exile. They are cast out of the promised land as Adam and Eve had been cast out of Eden. But the Psalms, the record of their worship, reveals not only lament at their exile but hope of redemption and restoration – God will still make all things new.
Reflect and Discuss
- What are some of the insights we can get about God’s salvation and purpose to make all things new from this first part of Israel’s story?
- In what ways do we see in our society and culture the desire for belonging, purpose and hope, and sickness for the lack of hope?
- What can we learn from the cyclical pattern and downward spiral of Israel’s history?
- What form can spiritual exile take for us if we drift away from God toward idols?
- Take time to celebrate the new identity and destiny you have in Christ this week.
- Review times of ‘exile’ in your life and what you learned from those times, thanking God for his mercy.
- Look for an opportunity this week to explain to someone the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15).
Read Chapters 7 and 8 this week. PH looks at what we can learn from the writing of the prophets of Israel. He then reflects on the story of the church he and his wife lead, and shows how reviewing our story is a great way to recall God’s faithfulness and encourage our hope.
There is a PDF version of this Guide here.