God often gets a bad rap from those who only see His response to man's rebellion. They quickly point our God's anger and retribution as "flaws," but downplay or ignore man's pride and rebellion. They evaluate Him based on their limited understanding of the story and find Him lacking.
God had chosen Israel as the people through whom He would "bless the nations," through whom He would introduce the Messiah. He formed them into a community through the fiery furnace of Egypt and the forty years in the wilderness. He gave Israel commandments, instructions, testimonies, and judgments to obey. He had Moses construct the Tent of Meeting, so that He might dwell in their midst.
A thousand years have passed since God promised Israel blessings for obedience ("If you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God," Deut. 28:1-2), and cursings for disobedience ("But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statures which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you," (28:15). Israel had begun well under Joshua's leadership, but after his death the nation fell into idolatry and sexual sin for nearly 400 years. God raised up David, who held God's heart and led Israel to great victory. He desired to build a temple for God's Name, but that task passed to his son Solomon. Solomon began well, and Israel became a great nation, until Solomon departed from the LORD. After the kingdom divided at his death, northern Israel apostatized and was carried off by the Assyrians. Judah has followed in the ways of Northern Israel, and has been carried off into captivity by the Babylonians.
God, however, has not remained silent! For a thousand years He has raised up oppressors in an attempt to get Israel's attention and prophets to preach repentance and judgment. These "watchmen" have been faithful to the LORD, yet the people have continued to turn their backs on Him. It is to Ezekiel that God expresses His grief, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?" (Ez. 33:11).
Reading the story of the Bible from cover to cover demonstrates that God is better to man than he deserves and that man is worse off than he thinks. God's the good guy; man's the bad guy.
Psalm 137 provides a peek into Israel's response to captivity. Describe their emotional and spiritual state.
The chronicler highlights the legacy of the sons of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh in 1 Chronicles 4:24-5:17. What does the chronicler reveal about Israel's early days? About Reuben's descendants who have named their son "Baal"?
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