With God on mission: Faithful Gentiles

The story of Jericho is often fondly remembered as one of those stories that we’ve grown up with as children – a story about how a God provides to his faithful, wandering children. Trumpets, fanfare, hype, drama, battles, sieges – what’s not to like? Except, if you read this story on a parallax – from outside of it’s original culture and intended audience, distancing yourself from the child-like bias that we have grown up with – it can be a little unnerving, even barbaric. If you are reading this story for the first time, you could ask what type of God would simply “give over” a whole city to a people who continually disobeys Him? What God would wilfully allow and condone that kind of death and destruction and violence? What kind of God is so exclusively in favour of one people, ignoring and forgiving their sins, and at the same time vengeful and uncompromising with another?

This view of an Old Testament, vindictive and angry God, is often painted in stark contrast to the inclusive, compassionate and loving New Testament God that we read about in the Bible. But if you were living in the ancient, tribal-centred wilderness, you would have an entirely different view and understanding of who and what God is. Every tribe had a different god, and it is generally considered that if you went into battle with a neighbouring tribe or city and won – your god was pleased with you. If you didn’t win, then your god had handed you over because he, (or they), were displeased with you. The story of Jericho starts very similar to many other battles and sieges of that day, except there is a glimmer of something new – a hope of redemption and a brand new way of understanding the Divine.

The writer reveals that the woman Rahab helps the Israelites plan the battle and usurps the Jericho defence – because she has heard something about this God. She, like the rest of the city knows something about the God of the Israelites. She has trembled with the knowing that something “more” was coming, which has caused her to react in such a way that she goes against her whole upbringing. Her whole family’s life irrevocably changing course because of her decision to trust a God who was invisible to her, but bigger than she could imagine.

The story of Jericho starts the same way as many other stories told in the ancient world, but the script quickly takes a tangent and ends up with salvation, restoration and hope as the people continue to awake to the Divine and the revelation of who God really is.

God has always had a higher, more expansive view of the hope for humanity than we do, sowing seeds early on in humanity’s story. In our own time He continues to awaken us the mystery of Himself in cultures all across our planet, and reveals to us that the ground of our being is firmly rooted in love. How we take that hope to our own neighbours and the nations is a continuing revelation, and something to be sought with our whole heart and mind and soul and strength, as we join with God on Mission.

Join with the NewLife@10 service as Stuart Grant takes us further within this mystery.

 

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Through the series we’ll be utilising the Bible Timeline pictures to keep where we are in context. If you’d like to have a copy for yourself as a reference for the sermons or the LifeGroup studies you can download it by clicking on the link below.

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The sermons from our weekly series at NewLife Anglican Church in Oran Park, Sydney, Australia. Sermons are preached by Lead Pastor Stuart Starr, Senior Assistant Pastor Geoff Leader and Kids, Youth and Families Pastor Michael Mak. Subscribe on iTunes below.