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November 14, 2013

Text:  “And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “‘If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.'” He answered,” I will do as you have said.” Genesis 47:29-30

Away from his homeland and nearing death, Jacob (aka Israel) turned his heart to his fatherland and his family. It was with them and in that ground that he wished to be buried. This was the land that God had promised to Abraham’s descendants. (Genesis 12:7; 13:15) The land was made into a perpetual possession of the Israelite people. (Exodus 32:13) It was a powerful incentive for obedience to God.

Of all the nations on the earth, God chose this hodgepodge of slaves to be his devoted people. “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God, has chosen you to be  a people for his own possession  out of all the peoples who were on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6 For verification of this agreement between God and the Israelites God made a covenant with them. (A covenant is a compact or a contract.) This covenant specified that God would be their unique God, and that Israel would be God’s unique people. It laid out all the stipulations (laws) and the duties and laws of Israel. God warned them of unfaithfulness. The Israelites accepted the terms of the compact and promised to obey God. “Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of  the Lord and all the ordinances: all the people answered with one voice and said., “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 24:3, cf. v.7)  Acceptance of this covenant bound the people to obey God. If they disobeyed  they would be dispossessed and exiled. Embodying their history and ties to God, it was a cement that bonded the Israelite people together.

After the Exodus, Moses went up on Mt. Sinai (aka Horeb) and God gave him the Law  (the Mosaic Law). This Law was God’s structuring of Israelite society. Its aims were religious and social. It was to be strictly obeyed (Deuteronomy 5:1). This law was to be taught in temple, synagogue, and home every day (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). The people were to wear a leather box on their heads or hands containing a portion of scripture. Everyone was to love the Law and to live by it, making for an ordered society.

The Temple is the third building block in the structure of Israel. It embodied the presence and preservation of God to bless Israelite life. Before the people crossed Jordan to conquer the land, God told them that he would choose a location where they would build the temple to honor God’s name. After many years and provisional sites King Solomon was instructed to build the permanent site in Jerusalem. (I Kings 5:5)  This building became the center of Jewish life, in fact a sort of talisman that citizens besought in crises. Jesus predicted its destruction (Matthew 24:1-31), which happened in 70 A.D. and was a devastating event to the Jews.

Despite God’s warnings against unfaithfulness and abandonment of these three pillars of spiritual strength and nourishment, Israel deserted God. They became rootless, withering from the sources of spiritual life, dying.

Our society is fading. Morals are eroding. Violence surges, peace wanes. The quickened pace of life demands  the past to become irrelevant. Our moorings have shifted  and we are becoming rootless. God has given Christians sources of nourishment, but many are drifting away from them. Without roots we become like “tumble weeds”: lost, drifting, dried and dead.

But God has given us things to root and nourish us.

God has given us a land of milk and honey waiting for us in eternity. Abraham never owned a piece of Canaan, but he believed the promises. (Hebrews 11:8-10) Jesus has gone before to prepare our home. He is the way to that reward.  (John 14:6) Be certain that you never lose your grip on heaven. “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” Hebrews 3:14

As God made Israel his unique people, he has now made Christians his holy possession. I Peter 2:9 He called us, cleansed us, and saved us; and so doing he added us to the church (Acts 2:7-35). This entity of  persons is a company of  people rescued from Satan.   The church’s many spiritual gifts furnish fellowship, comfort,  spiritual nourishment, and mutual love for our needs and woes. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11

And further, God has given us a source of spiritual nourishment, his word. Yes, the terms of Jesus’ covenant.  Jesus delivered these words to man and certified their authenticity. He said of his teachings, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”John 6:63. Our duty to Jesus’ word is as rigorous as the obligations of the Israelites. (See above.) Paul wrote to Timothy (II Timothy 3:15) that God’s words “are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  You must feed of this word daily. 

Are you rooted or rootless Every day make sure that you are “…rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:7

One Comment
  1. Very good anology. We are becoming rootless. We see it more every day. God bless you, and give you strength.

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