The descendants of the sons of Noah and their wives defied God’s command to spread out and fill the earth. In their defiance, they built a tower in a feeble attempt to assert their will (Genesis 11:4), but in judgment, God not only dispersed them throughout the earth, He changed their language so that they could not conspire to have their way. This judgment brought about nationalism, a grouping of common languages, communities, and nations.
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
God chose one man, Abram (Abraham), to further His redemptive plan. Abraham’s faith in God and his obedience to God were the key drivers in his life. He demonstrated his faith and obedience when he left his home in Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 12:1). Abraham waited and waited and waited to have a child with his wife, Sarah. Finally, at the age of 100 he had a son, Isaac (Genesis 21:5). As a test of his obedience, God told Abraham to offer his son as a burnt offering in Moriah (Genesis 22:1-2). Abraham was obedient to God, and as he was on the verge of sacrificing his son, God stopped him.
The nation Israel was born through Abraham’s descendants from Isaac to Jacob and Jacob’s twelve sons. How this occurred is a long story, but here’s the short version. In response to a famine in the land, Jacob and his family would travel to Egypt, where they were provided safe haven, food, and land to tend their crops. Under these conditions and over the years, the people of Israel thrived, so much so the Egyptians became concerned for their own safety and decided to put them in bondage, i.e., make slaves out the children of Israel. Israel remained in bondage for 400 years until God stepped in and, using Moses, liberated Israel by way of 10 plagues of judgment against the Egyptians.
After being liberated from bondage in Egypt by the power of God, God covenanted with the people of Israel to be a theocratic nation … a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation (Exodus 19:1-8) … a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). Separate from the Gentile nations, Israel was to live righteously; honoring and obeying the Lord God and thus enjoy the blessings of the covenant (Leviticus 26:1-12). However, should they abandon their covenant commitment, punishment would ensue as enumerated in Leviticus 26:14-39. Repentance would always restore the relationship.
The history on the rise and fall of the nation of Israel is reported in the books of the Joshua through 2 Chronicles. In short, the people of Israel went through some hard times, brought on by their rejection of God (1 Samuel 8), disobedience and idolatry. Rather than enjoy the benefits of a theocratic nation, Israel foolishly decided that they wanted a king like the Gentile nations to lead them. God granted their wish and things quickly went downhill.
The first king was Saul, who after a series of disobedient acts, was rejected by God and David was chosen as the next king. David had his issues, but he did love God fervently. David’s son, Solomon became king, but because of his actions, God judged Israel and divided the kingdom in two kingdoms. This division would occur under the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam. The Northern Kingdom was composed of 10 tribes and the Southern Kingdom was composed of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Neither kingdom was stable. Both kingdoms had series of kings which led to more disobedience, idolatry, abominations, ignoring the sabbaths, and social injustice.
Both kingdoms were judged for their disobedience to the covenant made with God after their liberation from Egypt, and the land of promise would be made desolate. How? The people would be deported from the Promise Land and become captives in foreign soils. The Northern Kingdom was taken captive in Assyria and would never recover to be a nation again. The Southern Kingdom would be captives in Babylon, but in time they would be restored to Jerusalem.
Next: THE PROPHECY