Part 8 – From Sinai to Solomon

Israel from space (taken in early 2003)

Israel and the surrounding lands, as seen from space in early 2003.
The white area at the top is the Mount Hermon region, still capped with snow. Israel’s boundary is marked faintly on the map.
(Image by NASA/MODIS and from the Visible Earth.)

 

Part 8 of the Big Journey is entitled ‘From Sinai to Solomon’. It’s a PDF document illustrated in full colour throughout. Click on the PDF icon below to read or download it:

Outline of contents

“Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there.  . . . .  . . . the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” (Joshua 21.43-45)

God’s people were born at the Exodus.  In this session we trace their journey from Sinai through the wilderness and into the Promised Land until King David finally completes the conquest.

Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness were their crucial ‘formative years’. God was readying them for their role in world history – just as children undergo training and discipline to prepare them to take their place in society and be a blessing to it. God showed them His love and holiness; He taught them to obey Him; He trained them to rely on His provision and power.

Their destination was the Promised Land – a fertile well-watered paradise abounding in natural resources (Deuteronomy 8.7-10; 11.9-12), a land “flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3.8). It was a new Garden of Eden.

But the Promised Land wasn’t only a paradise. It was a strategic paradise.  It was God’s bridgehead into occupied territory.  From this new garden, God planned to extend His dominion to the four corners of the Earth.  Situated at the crossroads of the world, it was almost at the midpoint of the world’s land-masses, and a bridge between three continents. Consequently it was – and still is – at the centre of history, too. Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Assyrian, Greek and Roman empires all controlled it at one stage or another, and it remains a crucible of world conflict to this day.  Michael D. Williams comments: “God’s choice of Canaan as a land for Abraham was intentional and central to the redemptive mission for which Abraham was chosen.  What was important about this particular piece of real estate was its geographic relationship to other lands.  It was a doorway to the world, on the way to everywhere else.”

Before God’s people enter the land, God sets before them the choice of blessing or curse, life or death (Deuteronomy 30.19). If they obey Him they will enjoy the land; if they reject Him, they will be driven out into exile (Leviticus 26.32-39), just as Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden.  Just as Adam and Eve had the life-defining choice between the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so now Israel is given the life-defining choice of blessing and curse.

Like Adam and Eve in the garden, God’s people were tasked with keeping God’s paradise clean and holy. But after many years, we read that the land became a place of strife and vile depravity. Judges ends with this lament: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17.6; 21.25).

Israel asks for a king.  God first chooses Saul.  But after his disobedience, God tells his prophet Samuel to anoint another man to replace Saul (1 Samuel 16.1-13).   After Saul’s death in battle David is proclaimed king by Judah at Hebron (2 Samuel 2.1-4), and then eventually by all Israel (2 Samuel 5.1-5).

David was the great conqueror king who, with his faithful warriors, finally completed the conquest. In Stephen Dempster’s words, “They finished the job that Joshua had started”.

David brings the Ark of the Covenant – symbolising God’s presence – into his new capital, Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6.12-19, 1 Chronicles 15.1-16.3).  David wanted to build God a Temple. So God sends Nathan to speak to David (2 Samuel 7.4-17, 1 Chronicles 17.3-15).  This is a key prophecy in the Bible.  God says:

(1)    He’ll give His people a secure place of their own to live and the wicked won’t oppress them any more.

(2)   God will build David a house (2 Samuel 7.11) – meaning a royal dynasty – that will never be extinguished; it will endure for ever (2 Samuel 7.16).

(3)   David’s offspring will build God a house. Though David makes preparations (1 Chronicles 22.2-5), it’s his son Solomon who will build God’s Temple.

Bible prophecy is often fulfilled at more than one level, and that’s the case here. On the one level it’s fulfilled through David’s son Solomon and the line of kings that ruled Judah over the succeeding years. But on another level it’s fulfilled through Jesus Christ, the great king of David’s line, who isn’t merely David’s Son but God’s Son, too.

These promises that God made to David are a covenant – the Davidic Covenant. It’s a big step forward in God’s plan. God promised Abraham a paradise and a people who would bring blessing to the entire world. Now God is telling us more about how those promises are going to come about – a King is coming, and through Him all God’s promises to Abraham will be fulfilled. As Vaughan Roberts says, “From 2 Samuel 7 onwards in the Bible, we are waiting for the arrival of God’s king, the son of David.”

Despite David’s sin, God’s promises to him stand secure. Solomon is proclaimed king and Israel enters a period of peace and prosperity unequalled before or since.  In the next session we’ll look at the glory of Solomon and his empire, and trace Israel’s turbulent history till the threshold of Jesus’s coming.

Part 8 of the Big Journey is available as a 14-page PDF document illustrated in full colour throughout.  Click on the PDF icon at the top of this page to download it.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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