[bl]A[/bl]t a particular time, in a particular place, God chooses a particular people in which to tell his story. This story of a faithful Holy God in a convent relationship with an adulterous people is the living account of Israel. And it’s a story that gives us hope — because it’s our story too. In anticipation of the Passover holiday in April – the remembering of when God passed over the homes of his people and spared their firstborn – I will be recalling the faith story of Israel through a series of posts, encouraging us to find ourselves in the journey of this people.
Called by God to be a Holy people, Israel is set apart for the glory and purpose of God. From the time of Abraham God knows. He knows his people will be in bondage. He knows the future that will become their distinct history.
We know the Israelites as a large people, but they begin as one family. The family of Abraham. Of Isaac. Of Jacob, an ordinary man, his wives and his many children. The 12 sons that will become the future tribes of this great community.
This chosen family begins in Canaan, the chosen land. The place where God led Abraham. The very place they will claim through divine victory many generations later. The promised land.
But in the days of Jacob, a famine will send his children to Egypt searching for food. They satisfy their flesh, provided for by one of their very own. By Joseph, the brother their father favored. The one they had abandoned and sold years prior. The one elevated to a position of authority in Egypt. And this brother knows. He knows his own kin when he sees them. He knows what they intended for harm, God intended for good. And in the mystery of his identity, Joseph persuades his brothers to bring Jacob to Egypt.
And the seed of this family is planted – in the soil of Egypt their crops grow and their family multiplies.
This is when their bondage begins. Out of a genuine need for food and sincere invitation to live in Pharaoh’s land, this growing family becomes slaves. For 400 years the Israelites live indebted and oppressed. By the time of Moses, the living generation has never known freedom.
I stop in the story to consider if this is often how it is. We begin in the places God desires for us. The Garden. Innocence. Purity. Dependence. Wholeness. And in time people, circumstances and temptations lead us to new realities, places of drought. Of sin. Of disobedience. Independence. Brokenness. Places that keep us captive until God himself shows us our need for deliverance. For wandering. For leading us back to those places he intended for us, chose for us. And by the time we enter them, they aren’t old places – but new and promised lands of freedom.
Like Israel, we are a chosen people. The church. The Temple of God. The Body of Christ. Participants in His glory and purpose. And His story continues through us. He continues to reveal who he is through our journeys of faith – marked by the ebb and flow of obedience, adulterous habits, faithful praise and sinful behavior.
As a holy people, set apart for the purposes of God, the Church is born into a distinct identity full of purpose.
But is this how we live?
This chosen life isn’t necessarily meant to be one of privilege. Though certainly, there are blessings. And our cups overflow. But we learn through Israel, that it’s a position of great responsibility. Like a city on a hill, Israel was vulnerable and exposed to all the other neighboring peoples. Their sin was public, their behavior watched as they claimed to serve the one and only God.
And so today, I encourage you to consider the ways we have been chosen. Why we are chosen, and to what we are chosen for. This intentional existence to our being infuses our life with value. As we discover ourselves in the story of Israel, we learn that what God intended for them he also intends for us: To make himself known in this world through us.
This ought to change the way we live. Change the way we spend money. Change the way we relate to our family, community and strangers. It ought to change how we speak and behave. The way we choose and discern. If what we say and do communicates to the rest of the world something about God — then let us consider with more faithfulness our words and actions.
You are a chosen people. Go live in such a way! And consider what you are communicating about God to those around you.