It’s time to redefine our understanding of the Gospel. If you believe the primary message of the Gospel is Jesus saving us from our sins, we have a problem. That’s nice, it feels good, but it’s weak. Anemic even. I may have just ruffled your feathers, but keep reading. My intention is to strengthen your grasp on the gravity of Jesus’ story. To do this, we need to look at—yep, you guessed it—the Old Testament.
God’s Pursuit of Intimacy
The Old Testament is the story of God’s desire for intimacy with us. It starts with the creation of the world. We had perfect intimacy with God and it was beautiful, until we messed up the entire plan with one apple. From here, things just got worse. We started killing one another and the nations were scattered across the earth. Genesis 12 is the beginning of restoration.. God promises Abraham that his descendants will be blessed for generations to come.
The Law Never Saved Anyone
Exodus opens with the Hebrews in slavery in Egypt, not quite the mighty nation we envisioned. But God had a better story and bigger plan in mind. God uses Moses to free the Hebrews. At Mt. Sinai, God tells his people that of all the nations, they will be his treasured possession (chapter 19). Boom. The relationship with God is now official at a national level. By chapters 25-40, God is dwelling in the tabernacle among his people.
Leviticus details some intense regulations for keeping the tabernacle pure and clean. If this is a book you tend to dismiss, you need to read this next sentence. The laws of Leviticus were never intended to cleanse our souls or make our way into heaven. This amazing book illustrates God holiness; those laws make is possible for our holy God could to dwell in the midst of a very unholy people.
Another Bad Breakup
It would have been nice if we could have kept this intimacy in tact. Unfortunately, in Judges a new generation of Israelites has takes up idolatry. By 1 Samuel 8, the people who had never needed a king other than Yahweh, request a king. Once again things goes from bad to worse until God finally exiles these folks.
God Never Gave Up
Here’s the thing about God; he’s not one to abandon his people.. God knew that exile was the only way for them to overcome their sin. And it did, the exile cured the Israelites of their idolatry and they later returned and rebuilt Jerusalem.. Even in exile, God was there, working to bring them back to a place of intimacy with him. Isaiah 40 is God’s message of hope. Even when all seems lost, “here is your God.”
God’s desire from the start has been to have a relationship with us and he has never wavered in his pursuit of intimacy. The Old Testament tells that story—a story where God makes himself tangible, meets us where we are, and redeems our sins over and over.
So why did Jesus come? We will discuss that on Thursday.