(If you’re just joining us, you’ll need to start with Part One for the series to make sense.)
As we go through Israel’s story this month, each week we have “catch-up Friday.” This gives you three days over the weekend to catch up on your readings, as it’s important to read each part of the story.
Answers to yesterday’s questions
But today, here are Tom Wright’s answers to yesterday’s questions:
- Who are we? We are Israel, the chosen people of the creator God.
- Where are we? We are in the holy land, focused on the temple; but, paradoxically, we are still in exile.
- What is wrong? We have the wrong rulers; pagans on the one hand [the Romans], compromised Jews on the other [the Sadducees, who controlled the Sanhedrin], or half-way between, Herod and his family. We are all involved in a less-than-ideal situation.
- What is the solution? Our God must act again to give us the true sort of rule, that is, his own kingship exercised through properly appointed officials (a true priesthood; possibly a true King); and in the meantime Israel must be faithful to his covenant charter.
In sum: God’s image-bearers are still in exile, despite many being back in the land. They were looking forward to a time when the exile would truly be over and all of God’s promises would be fulfilled – and they’d be able to bear God’s image the way he always intended. This was the defining story for Jews in the centuries leading up to Jesus – and beyond, until at least the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70, and the Bar Kochba revolt in AD132-135.
Next week, we start to look at how Jesus fits into Israel’s story, in our quest to answer why did Jesus live? If you’re up-to-date, you might want to get a head start by thinking about how Jesus fits Israel’s expectations of restoration (return from exile) and God’s “anointed one.” Specifically:
- How does Jesus demonstrate that the exile is over?
- How does Jesus act as God’s anointed?
- How does Jesus deliver on the promise of a new heart?
- How does Jesus bring blessing to all the nations?