Now on the backside of oppression and at that cusp of a New Story, God delivers the terms of the Covenant, establishing for the people this people, this new nation of Israel, made up of 12 tribes, the call to obedience. It’s the establishment of the Law of Moses. Stop right there. I know what you are thinking. Really? When God speaks, he immediately establishes a rule book? Careful…how you interpret this move will have serious implications in your journey of faith. The Law of Moses isn’t a set of random and arbitrary rules. It’s the Blueprint for Difference! God had called this people out from the rest of the nations to give witness to what it means to live as the redeemed of God.
Over the course of Exodus and Leviticus we follow this Blueprint. It covers the Big 10 that many of us are familiar with. However, these 10 must be understood within the broader story of redemption. These weren’t “good guidelines to live by.” These were the mandate for a Covenant of Relationship. We are to live sold out to the One True God. We are to care for one another “to be our brother’s keeper.” This Law extends beyond the Big 10. It extends into every area of the life of the people of God. Nothing is to be kept as their own. They are to yield their desire to master their own destinies or determine their actions, attitudes, and ambitions. This Law touches on the collective whole of life, spiritual, physical health, dietary, relational, justice, community, forgiveness, appropriateness, and ultimately their redemption. This story speaks to lives lived out in full submission to God. Leviticus can feel dry, however, as a Blueprint it’s amazing to see the kind of difference the “holy people of God” are to be in comparison to their neighbors. This difference isn’t to flaunt self-righteousness but as a foretaste of an entire world redeemed.
The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, paint the picture of the beginnings of this Covenantal relationship. A collection of stories from different times and different traditions paint the picture of a God that had called this people into something special...into a relationship like none other. And yet we also follow a brutally honest journey, a journey of God’s commands and Israel’s failure...of God’s patience and Israel’s obstinacy. God says, “Make no graven images” and Israel molds a Golden Calf so that it might have something certain and touchable to worship. God makes a promise of provision, a land to call their own, but in the face of opposition and uncertainty they fearfully choose to forgo the promise choosing to manage their own security instead of placing their lives in the hands of God. It becomes the story of 40 long years. 40 long years left wandering in the desert...40 years of learning that God can and will stay true to His Word, even when the fickleness of humanity pervades our relationship with Him. It’s a story that leads us to an epic set of speeches from Moses in Deuteronomy and his impending death. Stuck in the desert, what would God’s next move be? What would their next move be?
As their story unfolds, they also come to terms with their origin. Their life in God didn’t happen in a vacuum but began before they had been delivered. Their lives were the outflow of God’s promises to their forefathers...the elect of God’s grace. It would be through their patriarchs that God had conceived of this promise. God had chosen their father Abraham from the Land of Haran and promised him land, descendants, and God’s ongoing presence. Abraham, this father of faith, whose promise comes in the face of impossibility, too old to conceive and his wife Sarah was without children. But in the barrenness and desert moments of human experience God brings forth a gift. This gift is Isaac, the one to whom this blessing is passed. From Isaac to Jacob, a deceiver and trickster, who will ultimately run out or places to run. He would be forced to face his broken past and come to terms with his uncertain future. Wrestling through the night with God, he was wounded and blessed. It would be from this man that the people would get their name. Before they were Israel, Jacob’s name would be changed to Israel. The meaning, “The one that strives with God and prevails.” Jacob would bear 12 sons, but it would the unfortunate story of his favorite son Joseph that would serve as the important connection with the people of Israel. It was a life of tragedy, of being sold into slavery, but also of God’s faithfulness, rising to prominence in the land of Egypt that would save the life of his family and serve as the connecting point of how this people eventually became slaves for 400 years.
Jumping back into Luke...
I want to invite you to take some time working through this chapter today. Jesus is speaking ALOT about the cost of following Him...who makes their way in and who is left out. How does this affect you? Where are you challenged? Where do you find yourself standing in these stories? Have you heeded the invitation to the Jesus party? Have you counted the cost? How do those two stories land side by side? Party and Cost?