With the recent freezing temperatures hitting us pretty hard, my friend and I decided to grab our blankets, popcorn and hot chocolate and binge watch a TV show. We settled on The Bible series on Netflix. It is a remake of the 1966 film The Bible: In the Beginning. We are both artists and proud critics, so a good deal of the day was spent pointing out all of the inaccuracies in this series. And trust me, there were quite a few. The overall theme of the series seemed to be God’s covenant(s) with Israel. This started a discussion about the promises God made throughout the Bible. So, we decided to breakdown the dispensations on our own. In doing so, we see that even though mankind has had a tumultuous relationship with God since the beginning, God’s grace has always been present but with conditions. That is until, the mystery was revealed.
To get the big picture, let’s look at the different deals God made with His people.
The First Promise:
This promise was made with Adam and Eve in the period of innocence where God put Adam in charge of the earth (Genesis 1:26) and promised that they had a home in Eden forever unless they ate of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:15-17). How hard was that? But you know how it goes, we always want what we cannot or should not have. And so, Adam and Eve blew it for everyone. For their disobedience, God evicted them from the garden and cursed them with the hard life we all have to endure today. At this point, mankind is still in charge of the earth. The job just got much harder.
Promise 2 Noah:
Let’s move on to Noah. If you attended any Sunday school class as a child, you know this story. Noah was seen as a righteous man in the eyes of God. If you do a more in-depth study, you will see that Noah had his faults. However, compared to the wickedness in the world during that time, he was a saint. God was sorry that he made mankind. He was so disappointed in what His creation had become he decided to destroy everything. Wipe the slate clean and start over.
So, God sent a massive flood over all of the earth and literally washed everyone and everything from the face of earth except for Noah, his family and the animals taken with them onto the ark.
Here comes the second Promise. In Genesis 9:9-16, God promised Noah that he will never again destroy the earth with water. And, as a symbol of that promise, blessed us with those beautiful rainbows we see sometimes after rain. Pretty awesome!
Promise 3: Abraham
Next, we have Abraham, the father of many nations. God made a couple of promises to Abraham. He assured him that he will have many descendants and God promised him specific tracks of land. These descendants will go on to birth kings including the one and only Jesus Christ. Abraham fathered children with his wife Sarah and his servant Hagar. They went on the become Israel and Palestine, respectively. This land will be and still is the subject of much controversary. But it’s not like they were not warned. God told Abraham’s offspring that they will get the land, lose it but it will be returned to them, eventually (Ezekiel 32, Leviticus 25, Genesis 15,17, Exodus 23).
Promise 4: Moses
Abraham’s grandson, Jacob, was close to God but not without his faults also. He won the heart of God and through him, God formed the nation of Israel to fulfill his promise to Abraham. God renamed Jacob Israel and Israel’s offspring became the “nation” that will birth the son of man, Jesus. Through Jacob’s lineage came Joseph, who rescued his family (the nation of Israel) from starvation through his connection with Egyptian royalty. The nation moves to Egypt and becomes slaves. Years later baby Moses is rescued from Pharaoh’s decree to thin the Israeli population by mass genocide when Pharaoh’s daughter decides to adopt the child as her own. Moses grows up and is used by God to lead Israel out of Egypt and back to the land God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
But this journey to the promised land is complicated by the children of Israel’s disobedience. Therefore, God had to lay down the law, literally. He not only gave them the ten commandments but hundreds of other laws that they were to obey and rituals they were to keep.
If they did not keep these commandments, God promised them curses. If they did obey the law, God gave them blessings (Deuteronomy 11). Pretty simple, right? I suppose it should have been but…
Promise 5: David
Now the children of Israel wanted a kingdom complete with a king, the works. God granted them their wish and gave them Saul. You can read Saul’s very sad story, but we have got to keep this train moving. Ok, here we go. Saul died and the next King is the multi-talented beautiful David. The crowning of King David continued to set the stage for the coming of Christ. Nathan shared God’s promise with King David in 2 Samuel 7:16 where he told David “your throne will be established forever”. We are reminded of this promise in Luke 1:32-33.
Promise 6: Jesus
So, Jesus came from the lineage of King David. Jesus was sent to fulfill the law of Moses. In other words, at this point, the prophecies that were passed down is coming true. God always keeps His word. And with the fulfillment of this prophecy comes a new covenant to save the children of Israel from their sins (Zechariah 9:9).
Now beloved, comes the plot twist. When Jesus came to earth, those who believed him to be the Messiah thought that He was there to restore their kingdom. They believed that Jesus was their next king (John 12:13, John 1:49). They were under Roman rule and while they were free to practice their religion, they had no real kingdom or freedom as they did in the days of King David. Jesus’ disciples even asked Him when He will restore the kingdom (Acts 1-8). Jesus basically tells them not to worry about the time table. And part of this is because the mystery, yes mystery of God is about to be revealed to the most unlikely person.
Now, at this time, the disciples were teaching Jesus Christ to the children of Israel. Afterall, he was their Messiah, the one prophesied to come. Some believed in the name of Jesus and some did not. What none of them knew, was that Jesus Christ was slaughtered and resurrected for the sins of the world, both Jews and the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). Jesus Christ chose Paul, a proud persecutor of followers of Christ, to deliver Jesus Christ’s message to the world. This mystery was withheld since the beginning of time (Romans 16:25). The message is that salvation is available to anyone who believes that Christ died for their sins. Simple. Your sins are forgiven. All you need do is believe that. And you are saved.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.