Door of Faith – Lesson Nine

God’s Nation


Knowledge of the history of the Israelites helps Bible students keep our studies of the Old Testament attuned to God’s kingdom.  Keeping attuned to the kingdom of God is necessary for Christians because we cannot separate God from His Kingdom (Ex. 19:5, 6; I Sam. 8:6; I Chron. 28:5; Psa. 103.19; Luke 4:43).  All people have their citizenship in either God’s kingdom or Satan’s kingdom (Luke 18:15-17; Acts 19:8; 26:18; Eph. I:1-14; 2:1-3).  In the previous lessons we understood how God sought to press the life of His kingdom on the hearts and minds of the people in the Old Testament stories.  The following is a description of how it happened.

And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.  To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.  Deut. 10:12-14

This series of lessons is designed to help Christians read the Bible for themselves.  It is God’s will that Christians teach other Christians; however, all Christians need to make it our goal to hear God speak to us through His word (I Cor. 2:4, 5).  God sent prophets to speak to Israel for Him.  The Israelites were first taught orally and then by literature.  God speaks to us through literature inspired by the Holy Spirit (I Thess. 2:13).  Thus it behooves Christians to be competent readers of this divine literature.  Most of the present world population is capable of reading letters, narratives and some people can even properly read poetry.  As odd as it may seem, even well educated Christians often prefer to have other people tell them what the scriptures mean.  This has fostered unnecessary division and unwanted schisms among those who are seeking “the pearl of great price” for their lives (Matt. 13:45).  Truth is found in the Bible by those who live by truth (John 7:16, 17).  The aim of this lesson is to learn how and why God formed the nation of physical Israel.  The nation God promised through Abraham’s descendants via Jacob was another of the support systems God used to maintain His kingdom in people who had faith in His covenants.


God built a new and different kind of nation.  Abraham’s offspring were the citizens for the most part.   Although, the emphasis of the Bible stories will be on the nation of Israel; we must still apply the “four point theory” to witness the presence of God’s kingdom in individuals.  The following is an excerpt from Lesson Seven:

1.  The presence of Almighty God will be in the story.  He will be seeking to accomplish “His own purpose” in conjunction with grace.  II Tim. 1:9.

2.  The “living beings,” created by God Almighty with spirits in His likeness in male or female bodies, will be in the scene seeking satisfaction for their innate needs (Gen. 1:27; 2:7; Gal. 3:28 ).

3.  The inside/out spiritual growth process, according to Jesus’ declaration, “The kingdom of God is within you,” must be manifested on some level in the living beings.  Luke 17:21; Mark 4:26-29; Acts 20:25; I Cor. 3:7-9.

4.  Satan’s power to cause people to break God’s covenants will be present as the opposition.  I Chron. 21:1.

Even though God rules over all nations, His kingdom life will not be witnessed in the kingdoms ruled by men.  God’s domain of rule includes all kingdoms, although He may allow Satan the privilege of appointing the ruler (Matt. 4:8).  God appointed and deposed kings in the Old Testament.  One reason was His desire to show His glory in the Israelite nation to the people in the other nations (Deut. 4:5-8, 32-34; I Kings 8:60).  He rules over people and nations who do not accept Him as God Almighty.  Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, learned this lesson “the hard way.”  Dan. 4:27, 37.

God used Moses as His “person of faith and courage” for forty years in the wilderness.   His aim was to prepare the offspring of the Israelite slaves to be the citizens of a new nation.  The covenants God offered the Israelites availed them of the same program He had offered Noah and his family.  God always offers, up front, covenants for the people so they can find satisfaction for their God-given needs (Deut 4:31; 7:12-15; Matt. 6:31-34).  His programs offered satisfaction for both their body needs and the higher needs of their spirits – praise, honor by achievement and glory (Deut. 8:17, 18; I Pet. 1:7).  Of course, the Israelites had to accept His programs by faith; a faith that comes by hearing God’s word (Deut. 6:1-9; 11:18-21).  When God sees faith He gives grace.  Along with grace, people also enjoy the substance of the things in which we have faith as a part of our “box of life.”

The covenants were offered to the Israelites in conjunction with the function of the Levitical Priesthood.  The information in the previous lesson, “The Purpose of the Levitical Priesthood,” plus an understanding of what God had in mind for Israel, as a nation, was prepared to be a shadow of God’s heavenly kingdom for Israel of the flesh and also spiritual Israel, the church (Heb. 8:5; 9:23, 24).  Please read Deut. 28:1-14 to know what God lovingly desired to do for Israel.  It did not happen in the nation of Israel but it did happen in the hearts and minds of some people.  The kingdom of God had to be found in the lives of His people in the Old Testament; otherwise, it was not there.  In the spiritual realm, only what God says is, is real.  Most of what is being called “real” in the religious realm today on earth has been cobbled together by the wisdom of men.  It is not the kingdom of God.  Jesus Christ revealed grace and truth to mankind from God, His Father.  “So then, no more boasting about men!”  I Cor. 3:21.  This was the message the Apostle Paul received from the mind of God by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:10-16).

God used Joshua, another faithful and courageous man, to lead the Israelites after Moses died on Mt. Nebo in Moab (Deut. 34:5, 9).  He was awarded the top leadership role after they arrived on the banks of the Jordan River, the eastern border of Canaan (Josh. 1:1-5).  We understand the life of the kingdom of God was in the faithful and courageous people He used such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua and others.  Consequently, a dimension of God’s heavenly kingdom was present on earth within these same people.  In fact, the kingdom was in all of the people who lived and died by faith in God’s will revealed in His covenants.

God promised to build a nation through Isaac, the only child of Abraham and Sarah, and his son Jacob.  Stephen summed up the story for us in Acts 7:1-53.  God had used Joseph to shift Jacob’s offspring to Egypt because of a famine in Canaan.  Four hundred and thirty years later Moses was commissioned to bring them back as a nation of people.  This nation would be identified as Israel because Jacob’s name was changed to Israel (Gen. 32:28).  Israel appropriately means “he struggles with God.”   God was the king who struggled with Israel even after He was asked to appoint a mere man as their king (I Sam. 8:7).

We need to ask, “Why did God want to be king over ‘the children of promise’ in a ‘nation setting’ in a specific land area?”  To answer this question we need to ask another: “Why did death reign ‘from the time of Adam to the time of Moses?’”  We have already identified the problem in our previous lessons.  The fathers, the heads of the families, did not lead according to God’s will revealed in His covenants.  We witnessed the problem in the story of the flood (Gen. 6:1-3).  The family is the institution God ordained for developing children in His kingdom (Gen. 2:24, 25; Matt. 19:1-9).  The men were the heads of the families (I Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22; 6:1-4).  The laws of life Jesus lived and taught while He lived on earth described the phenomenon of human beings developing as sons of God (John 1:3, 4, 12).  These laws never changed because God’s purpose and design of mankind never changed.  God did adjust His mode for working with people according to the spiritual level of their lives.  The heads of the families had become inept during Noah’s time on earth.   Jacob was the head of his family.  His sons were the heads of the families Jacob left in Egypt after he expired.  See Gen. 46:8-27.  Something had gone very wrong in Egypt.  God had let His people become slaves under idol worshiping rulers.

We must ask, “Why?”  We witnessed how the people Moses freed from slavery had many serious problems.  One of them was idolatry.  Idolatry continued to be the people’s downfall under the kings after Israel split into two nations – Israel and Judah.  God’s plan to separate Abraham’s offspring from people who did not live by faith in God’s covenant was a “crises driven program.”  His offspring were not strong enough to live in the world without becoming “one with the world.”  They were not strong enough to live by faith in God’s kingdom rule and be subjected to ungodly governments.  Thus God planned and promised Abraham, “To your offspring I will give this land.”  Gen. 12:7; 15:18-21.  Land alone would not be adequate to protect God’s “children of promise.”  God declared, “Abraham will surely become a nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.”  Gen. 18:18.  Therefore, we understand this unique nation was a part of God’s spiritual separation plan – until the Christ came.  In God’s wisdom, He knew the Israelites Moses brought out of Egypt would also need a strong physical border in order to remain separate from Satan’s people.  Christians have an exceptionally unique spiritual border to keep us separated from the world.  It is “in Christ.”  Col. 3:1-4.

Moses is on the Hebrew list of people who pleased God by their faithful behavior.  In this story we see the importance of the faith of parents to develop a spiritual “box of life” for their offspring.

By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.  By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.   He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as a greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.  By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.  By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.  Heb. 11:23-28

There are no ordinary children; however, God had a special mission for Moses.  Moses learned of his Israelite identity.  He met the challenge of faith testing until his “faith was made complete,” like Abraham.  Jas. 1:2-4; 2:22; I Pet. 1:7.  When a Christian’s faith is being “made complete” it means his or her faith is becoming the foundation of their identity.  Youth’s identity is so extremely important for their present happiness and further development.  Parents need to realize their children’s spirits came from God and they belong to the kingdom of God.  Jesus said, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.  For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”  Matt. 18:10.  Moses was blessed by being born into a family who had faith in God.  His parents had the courage to be obedient to their faith (Rom. 1:5).  Moses took advantage of his circumstance of birth; that is, his birth “box of life.”  Later he had to choose between the pleasures of identifying as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter or the discipline by tribulations necessary for developing as a son of God (Heb. 12:5, 6).  He made the good choice to live by faith in the covenants God had made with Moses’ forefathers.  He had to make the same hard choice all adolescents must make:  The pleasures of sin for a short time or become a child of God, eternally (II Cor. 6:17, 18).  The results, Moses’ faith produced the righteous courage revealed in his behavior (Deut. 34:12).  Faith produces courageous people when choices must be made between justice and sin; right and wrong; good and evil.

God used people like Moses, “and what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised.”  Heb. 11:32, 33.  Women showed their faith by the courageous acts they performed.  “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.”  Heb. 11:31.  “Women received back their dead, raised back to life.  Others were tortured and refused to be released, so they might gain a better resurrection.”  Heb. 11:35.  God used courageous people to cooperate with Him to develop Israel; “out of all nations you will be My treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  Ex. 19:5, 6.  The laws of the Levitical Priesthood were their spiritual and judicial laws.  God was the king and the Law He gave Moses for the people was a spiritual description of their behavior He desired (Rom. 7:14; Jas. 1:20).  The Law instructed the people about their behavior with one another so they could live together as a great nation and be a light for the other nations.  The law of life in God’s new covenant is being written on Christians’ minds and then our hearts, so our bodies become our “instrument of righteousness.” Rom. 6:13.

The requirements of the Law worked well for spiritual people who had faith in the covenants God made for them (Matt.  5:17-19; I Tim. 1:8-11).  It made their sins “spring to life,” so they could identify what needed to be fixed in their “selves.”  Rom. 7:9.  It convicted willful sinners and sentenced them to spiritual death.  The Israelites God brought across the Red Sea had been sinners in Egypt; however, the law of the Melchizedek Priesthood did not convict them of sin (Rom. 5:12, 13).  They were in need of a law to convict them of specific sins in order to overcome the cause.  The Law of Moses was adequate for the task (Rom. 3:19, 20).  The Apostle Paul explained the problem of living under a law that convicts people of sin; however, he also explained why the Israelites had a need for this very type of law (Rom. 7:14-20).  They were sinners but did not know it until the Law made them aware (Rom. 7:7, 8).

We know the culture, or life, of the kingdom of God resided in the hearts and minds of some Israelites because the word of God testified; “They lived by faith.”  After Joshua finished his commission assigned to him by God, he challenged the people to, “Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”  Although the people said they would, they never did completely give them up.  The following are a few of the high and low points of Israel, the nation:

Joshua 24:31.     “Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.”

Jud. 2:10, 11.      “After that whole generation had been gathered together to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel.  Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.”

Jud. 2:20-22.       “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, ‘Because this nation has violated the covenant that I laid down for their forefathers and has not listened to me, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died.  I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their forefathers did.’”

Jud. 2:16.             “Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.”

The activities in the foregoing scriptures became the course of history for Israel.  They would fail to keep God’s covenant.  God would withdraw His power of protection.  Their enemies would move against them; the Israelites would cry to the Lord.  God’s love for them and His plan to send the Christ, when the time was right, moved God to use His power to drive out the enemy.  This “up and down” situation caused the Israelite nation to fail to be what God had desired.  He continued to choose some faithful courageous men and women to recover their land (Jud. 4:4, 9; 6:12).  After some time God took a more “hands on control” through the use of prophets:

I Sam.  3:1.          “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli.  In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.”  See I Sam. 3:20, 21.

I Sam.  8:6, 7.      “But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.   And the Lord told him:  “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they rejected, but they have rejected Me as their king.’”

God blessed the kings and used them as He had done with other leaders He had chosen when they followed the laws in His covenants.  God was always looking for the “best of the best people” to lead His people.  However, in the case of the first king, Saul, He gave Israel the kind of king they thought they needed.   God chose the second king, David, according to their actual needs.  The power He gave the kings was not to make them great “in and of themselves.”  God was, is and always will be, “God the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords.”  I Tim. 6:15.  However, Israel was more than God’s evangelism tool for the world.  God was working to save the soul of each Israelite.  He does not change (Jas. 1:17).  He is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” as David did (II Sam. 12:13; II Pet. 3:9).

The following are a few brief high lights of God’s story of His kingdom in the nation of Israel:

 II Sam. 7:12-16.  “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, I will establish his kingdom.   He is the one who will build a house for My Name, I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”

God blessed David for his faith and courage to cooperate with Him to develop the nation He had planned.  A king now reigns over God’s people; “the Israel of God.”  The promise God made to David was fulfilled by the virgin birth of Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Christ (Luke 1:28-33; Acts 2:32-36; 5:31; Gal. 6:16).

The remainder of the story of Abraham’s offspring and their relationship to God’s kingdom is told, in most cases, from the point of the king who was on the throne.  This continued until the ten tribes were carried into captivity by the Assyrians and finally Judah and Benjamin by the Babylonians.  God used Ezra, Nehemiah and other faithful courageous people to bring the Jews back to Jerusalem and the surrounding area.

I Kgs. 8:12, 13.    “Then Solomon said.  ‘The Lord has said that He will dwell in a dark cloud; I have built a magnificent temple for You, a place for You to dwell forever.’”

I Chron. 29:23.   “So Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king in the place of David.  He prospered and all Israel obeyed him.”

I Kgs. 11:9-11.    “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.  Although He had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command.  So the Lord said to Solomon ‘since you have not kept my covenants and decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.’”

I Kgs. 12:16, 17.  “When all Israel saw the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:

‘What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son?

To your tents, O Israel!  Look after your own house, O David!’

So the Israelites went home.  But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.”

I Kgs. 12:25.        “Then Jeroboam fortified Sechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there.  From there he went out and built Peniel.”

II Kgs. 17:5, 6.     “The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years.  In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria.  He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the town of the Medes.”

II Kgs. 25:1.         So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army.  He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it.

Ezra 1:5.               Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites- everyone whose heart God had moved – prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.”

These are the high lights we need to know about God’s story of physical Israel.  They may serve as an outline for reading the individual narratives.  We need to keep in mind a clear view of the plot as we read the Old Testament.  God is the protagonist and Satan is the antagonist.  The ultimate plot is how God redeemed the people He created from Satan’s power of death (Heb. 2:14, 15).  We will not find the resolution to this plot in the Old Testament story.  Jesus used a parable to highlight the same story from the perspective of “fruit producing” for the chief priest and elders in the temple in Jerusalem.  His summary declaration:

Matt. 21:43.        “Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

Isaiah also used a parable to warn Judah about producing the wrong fruit as a nation before they were taken into captivity:

Isa. 5:7.                 The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of His delight. And He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;For righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

    The physical story of the nation of Israel must be read on the three-level principle for reading a narrative in the Bible.  We read the individual narratives God chose to tell His story.  At the same time we seek the answer to the question; “What is God doing in this particular story?”  And then we ask the question of utmost importance: “How does what God did in this story function to have “sons of God” in His heavenly kingdom?”

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply