All was not lost. God sent the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah to let the captives in Babylon know God was sending a messiah to set them free. God was still their God and they were God's people Isaiah 60: 1-7. The messiah was Cyrus from Persia. The Persian empire overran the Babylonian empire. Cyrus and King Darius sent the exiles home to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. Darius figured the captives would be loyal to him because he set them free.
But home was not all they had hoped for. The people had to defend their land gifts from Persia against the Babylonians who had been given the land when Babylon was in power.
once again the people cried out for a messiah to make their lives better. Malachi 3; 1-4
This gets us ready for Monday October 26th, We will read the stories in all four gospels introduing Jesus.
Lesson Three begins with the kingdom of David. When David dies his kingdom was passed along to King Solomon. I Kings 2: 1-4
Solomon asked God for wisdom and because he did God said Solomon's faithfulness ensured an heir of David would always sit on the throne of Israel. I Kings 3: 10 - 14
Solomon however made a number of mistakes as king that brought disaster to Israel. He taxed the peoeple heavily to support his many building projects. Solomon indentured citizens as his private workers. He built a Temple to God and then built a palace for himself that was larger than the Temple. What really got him in trouble was buiding temples to the gods his many wives worshipped and then worshipping with them. God let Solomon know he would be king throughout his life but his sons would not be king.
When Solomon died his son Rehoboam did not listen to the seasoned advisors The kingdom split between Israel and the 11 tribes in the north and Judah with one tribe in the southern kingdom. I Kings 12: 1-5; 12-14; 20.
This split opened the land up to the Egyptian empire in the south and the northern empires is Assyria and Babylong for attack. Israel was desired land because every caravan and trade route went through the land, This meant owning the land meant collecting the tolls that guaranteed safe passage.
Both Israel and Judah made mistakes worshipping foreign gods, treating refugess badly and not caring for the least among them. Israel in the north fell to the Assyrian Empire in 722 BCE. Judah was overrun by the Babylonian Empire which conquered Assyria in 587 BCE. The richest, educated, landowner and poweful were taken, 100,000 people in all, to be prisoners in Babylon.
God sent prophets to give the people
The story of Moses was put in writing during the Hebrew people's exile in Damascus and Babylon. It was written to give the people hope that God would send a liberator to take the people back to their homes in Israel.
The Hebrew parriarchy was passed from Abraham to his son Isaac to his son Jacob and to his son Joseph. Jospeh through a series of mishaps and good fortuned ended up second in command in Egypt. He was able to bring his whole family to Egypt during a time of drought. The hebrew people stayed in Egypt.
Read Exodus 1: 1-10 - The Egpytian ruler decided the Hebrew people were immigrants who were getting too much power. (Some things never change.) So he made the Hebrew people slaves. Their lives as slaves grew increasingly miserable. Still the poplulation grew. Once every two years an order was given to kill all Hebrew babies as a way of keeping the slave population manageable.
Exodus 2: 1- 10 Moses was raised in two cultures. He was an Egyptian prince and his Hebrew mother made sure he know the stories of his people. The internal conflict grew and erupted.
Exodust 2: 11 - 14 Moses flees Egypt and ends up marrying the oldest daughter of the richest man in Midian.
Exodus 3: 16-22 How do we make sense of a God who hardens Pharaoh's heart and then punishes him because of it?
Exodus 6: 6-8 - The newst version of the covenant
Moses brings plagues upon Egpyt until the people are freed. Why use plagues? Was God being cruel or establishing power and belief among the Hebrew people.
Exodus 11: 4-10 The Feast of the Passover the second most important holiday is Judaism
The people are free but Pharaoh changes his mind. Pharoah and his army are destroyed.
The Ten Commandments and many other laws are given to Moses.
Exodus 33: 18 - 34 The Golden Calf and the aftermath. Did the 3000 have to die? That echoes the question we ask as Christians. Did Jesus have to die.
Questions to ponder:
Why was Exodus included in the Torah
Why is it considered the central story of Judaism
What does this story mean for us?
What does it say about us, God and our connection to God today?
How does this story make a difference in our lives today?
Please leave comments or questions and I will respond. Blessings
The story of Abraham comes from the portion of the Hebrew Scriptures called the Torah or the Law. The Torah was completed during a time a crisis for the Hebrew people. They were held as captives in the Babylonian Empire: modern day Iran and Iraq.
Please read Genesis 11:26 - 12:3 and Genesis 17: 1-7
God called Abraham by name asking him to move from Ur to Haran and finally to Canaan. Abraham's family moved from the places where the peple were in captivity to Israel. This was the reverse journey of the captives.
Abraham and his wife Sarah were also 75 years of age and had no children. God told Abraham if he would follow God, God would make his family a great nation. He would bless this nation so they could be a blessing to the world.
When we put this passage in the context; a passage that was written during the exile, a time of great crisis, we begin to see what God was promising. God was giving hope to the people in captivity. They would return home. They would once again become a great nation filled with people. Captivity was not the end for Israel.
When looking at any story we can ask ourselves three questions.
Why was this written the way it is?
What is this telling us about God, us and our connection to God?
What does this mean for me today?
God called Abraham to give him hope. If he followed God he would have children and his family would have a future. The people in exile could follow God, return home and have a future.
Questions for us to consider:
How does God call or speak to us today?
How are our lives as followers of Jesus a witness to others of the promise of God's covenant?
How do our lives show others the hope that comes with following Jesus?
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments. I will check the blog and respond daily.