Post Title: God in Pursuit of a People, a Purpose, and a Place
We saw in Part One of our examination of the Exodus Epic that the God of Israel is powerful, passionate, and purposeful in the redemption of His covenant people from enslavement to Pharaoh and Egypt.
First, YHWH’s mighty acts on Israel’s behalf demonstrate His power over every deity of the Egyptian pantheon, including the supreme Sun. “Who is like Thee among the gods, O LORD?” (Exodus 15.11) Moses declares rhetorically.
Second, Israel is beloved for the sake of the patriarchs, and God is passionate in keeping his promise to Abraham and bringing his offspring to Himself. He brings the children of Israel to a high place of revelation and responsibility, at Sinai, and there like a bride, Israel receives YHWH as bridegroom and King. “Na’aseh v’nishma” the beloved replies to her Lover and Redeemer – “We will do and we will hear” all that the LORD says (Exodus 24.7).
Finally, the liberty wrought by YHWH’s redemption of Israel is purposeful. It is more than freedom from slavery to Pharaoh; it is freedom for the service of the LORD. “Let my people go . . . that they might serve/worship Me.” (Exodus 8.1) God saves Israel not alone for their sakes, but for His purposes as well.
Actually the goals of the Exodus are many, all relating to YHWH’s covenantal plan and promise to Abraham. First, to deliver Israel from bondage and take her out of Egypt. Second, to bring His beloved covenant people to Himself, to be near them and they to be His treasured people. Third, to reveal His will, wisdom and direction for their lives in Torah or Divine Instruction. Fourth, to reign over them as King and love them as a Husband. Fifth, for this kingdom of priests to construct a Sanctuary or Mikdash so that the King of the Universe can dwell continually in the midst of a holy nation. Finally, to lead His covenant children to a place of promise, a Land divinely deeded centuries before to their forefather Abraham.
All these redemptive goals come to fruition 430 years later (1 Kings 6.1) when a man of peace, Shlomo (Solomon), builds a house suitable for YHWH’s habitation in the center of the whole earth, Jerusalem – on the very mount where Abraham first offered up his only beloved son, Isaac. The journey from slavery to sanctuary comes to climax in the clouds of God’s indwelling glory.
Messiah and the End of the Exodus
Surely it is significant that God devotes only three chapters of sacred Scripture to the creation of the entire cosmos, but He devotes thirteen chapters to Israel’s building of the holy Sanctuary (Mikdash). In this we see YHWH’s ultimate priorities in the earth and His final purposes for the redemption from Egypt.
But how does all this relate to the great Exodus from the Egypt of sin and death effected in the redemption of the Paschal Lamb’s sacrifice? Clearly God is passionate and He is purposeful with respect to His covenant people Israel. But where do we, the nations, fit into this plan? Is there some continuity between Moses and Messiah that should bear upon our biblical worldview and the calling upon our lives as the witnessing community of faith in Yeshua?
According to the gospel of God concerning His son, the righteousness (covenant faithfulness) of God to Israel is revealed in the faithfulness of Messiah unto death for the benefit of all who believe. In Messiah, YHWH’s love is set upon the nations as it is upon Israel. As Gentiles we were apart from God, excluded from the covenants of promise, and without hope; but the blood of the Passover Lamb brings us near to this powerful, passionate, and purposeful God. We no longer are strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, but now we are adopted sons and fellow heirs. We who were not a ‘people’, now in Messiah we are irrevocably joined to the covenant People of God – engrafted to a holy root in order to bear godly fruit for His name’s sake.
In view of this, how then shall we live? For what purpose was this done? We must understand that God’s purposes change not. From the Exodus to Solomon, and now to the Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace), Yeshua, and His covenant community – God’s redemptive purposes are the same throughout history. We have been joined to that great continuum of covenant and blessing, and equally called to construct for our Redeemer a House suitable for His habitation in the earth.
Paul declares to the Gentiles who are drawing nigh unto the God of Israel through Messiah: “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone…” (Ephesians 2.19) What is being built on this sure foundation? It is the Mikdash, or Sanctuary, for God! The building is being fitted together compactly like the stones of Jerusalem, constructed into a holy habitation for the LORD. As living stones quickened by the Spirit of Messiah, we “are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2.22)
The divine call upon the church (ekkleisia) is the same as upon the congregation in the wilderness. We are redeemed for God’s sake ever bit as much as for our own. We are saved to serve, redeemed to rebuild that which is fallen. From the broad perspective of biblical revelation – from Tanakh to the Apostolic Writings – salvation should be seen as a summons to the service of the King! And the King seeks a House to inhabit, a People to indwell.
Therefore, as children (banim) of God it is our purpose to be builders (bonim) under His kingship. Let us build Him a Sanctuary. Let us turn our hearts to the heart of the Father; let us hear and follow His instructions, obey His commandments, and contribute toward the telos of the Exodus Epic. His passion united with our partnership will culminate in the construction of a place in which God dwells, a people in whom He delights, and a planet filled with His presence.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.