Over roughly a two year period, we are following talks in our Sunday services that will give an overview of the Big Salvation story that runs through the Bible. We are using the Andrew Ollerton book, The Bible a Story that Makes sense of life as a framework for this series. Reading this, will greatly enrich the Sunday talks. You can get it from all major book sellers.
Here, I have written some background on our Exile series to help you orientate the Sunday talks into the bigger story of the Bible.
Read and enjoy!
Just give me some peace!
I think that has been my basic desire for the last say 21 years – which was when first daughter was born!
But our desire for peace goes so much deeper than a Father’s desire to read the newspaper – I think there is a deep yearning and longing in all of us for peace and the troubles in the world right now, have only increased this. Deep within us is a sense of grief over the brokenness of the world and a longing for things to be restored to how they were supposed to be.
The Hebrew word for peace is ‘shalom’, this word appears in the OT 250 times.
Shalom is this amazing word that means so much more than the absence of noise or conflict. The word conjures up the idea of health, wholeness, and wellbeing. The essence of its meaning is:
‘our lives and the world working as they were supposed to’
This is about inner and outer peace, includes such things as justice, beauty, truth, abundance, wholeness – an ecosystem of peace that integrates human relationships, the natural world, and our spiritual experience of the presence of God,
The picture of shalom that the Bible paints is the garden of Eden – we looked at that under the theme of origins
Eden is this archetypal picture of the way the world was supposed to be – a beautiful, shared living space with God and humanity living in harmony.
But we remember the story… it all went wrong…
In Eden, humans made this tragic choice to turn away from God and pursue fulfilment independently from God. Therefore, they were exiled from Eden.
Andrew Ollerton describes the story of the Bible like Russian Dolls – it paints this big story of the exile of the whole of humanity form Eden, the way things were supposed to be. And within that describes the story of Israel who were to face the painful experience of being expelled from their homeland. The beauty of following the specifcs of the story of Israel is that we can see our own story reflected in their story – their story helps us make sense of the tough realities of our own story…
We were made for this world but often feels hostile.
We were made for community but life often feels lonely.
We were made for purpose, but its hard to feel like we are contributing anything.
We were made for God but he can seem far off.
Do these words resonate with you? The reason is that we are living as exiles from our true home… we belong to a place that its hard to get back to…
But as we follow the story of the Israelites, we see how God interrupted and entered their story, and began a rescue mission, calling them back to their true home…
As we follow the story of the Israelites, it helps us see how God can enter our own stories, drawing us back to our true home…
After origins we looked at Exodus…. We saw how God began is rescue plan to rescue exiled humanity with the call of Abraham.
God promised that Abraham and his descendants would be made into a great nation living in the promised land and would be a blessing to all peoples…
But as we follow the story we find Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites in slavery in Egypt. God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt to the foot of Mount Sinai where they worshiped God and entered into a marriage like covenant relationship with God.
Through Moses they were led to the edge of the promised land where leadership was handed over to Joshua who led a partial conquest. Following Joshua was a period under the rule of the Judges. During this time Israel went off the rails and time and time again got into a mess. The essence of the message of this period is that,
‘when we turn away from God, we vandalise shalom and end up in chaos’
At the end of the period of the judges, the Israelites cried out for a king. God wasn’t happy with this idea because God was their king – it would be dangerous to put a human king between the people and God.
But God relented and first Saul and then David was anointed king. Then, in his grace, God made this amazing promise to David…That God’s true messiah would be one of his descendants…
mashiach (anointed one) … messiah (Hebrew), Christ (Greek)
David became king not through a coronation like Charles, but through being anointed with oil…as a symbol of the divine spirit empowering the king to rule
Now this is so significant in understanding the biblical story. When we arrive at the gospels, we find the Jews waiting for God’s promised messiah to come. We then see Jesus announced as that messiah…
This helps us understand how the Jews reacted to Jesus – what they had in mind about a messiah, was the rule of David and his son Solomon. A king who establishes his kingdom by conquering their oppressors and restore the glory of Israel.
But was we see is that Jesus redefined these messianic and kingdom expectations around himself – Jesus the prince of peace came to restore ‘shalom’ by establishing his kingdom in a manner that would have some similarities to the kingdom established under David and Solomon but lots of key differences too….
Sadly, David went off the rails, had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba which led to the birth of Solomon. In God’s amazing redemptive grace, it would be Solomon who would be the heir to David’s throne and under Solomon’s reign that Israel would experience the high point of their history… and this brings us to this Sunday’s talk – have a listen.
Solomon began faithfully, but he too went off the rails. That then ultimately led to Israel being exiled again from her home land (the promised land) which is the part of the story we will pick up in the later part of our series.