15. The Divided Kingdom and Exile

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With the death of Solomon Israel’s golden age quickly came to an end as the ten northern tribes seceded from Judah. How will Israel fair as a divided nation? Will there remain a remnant faithful to Yahweh? What will become of the promise?

I. The Divided Kingdom

We are given a glimpse of God’s plan in dividing the kingdom in I Kings 11:26-40. This is critical to understanding all that will follow.

Will someone read that for us? What reason is given for Yahweh’s rending the kingdom in two and what is Israel’s future hope?

First, we see that the kingdom is being divided because of Israel’s continued apostasy. Specifically “because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and they have not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my rules, as David his father did” (11:33).

Second, there is hope because this is not a permanent situation (11:39) the kingdom will be reunited.
Nevertheless in 931 BC the kingdom was divided with ten tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, and Manasseh/Ephraim following Jeroboam in the north and the tribes of Judah and the Levites in the south. The tribe of Benjamin was divided between the two kingdoms.

A. Israel ― The Northern Kingdom

For fear that the people will return to Jerusalem to worship and have their hearts turned against him and towards Yahweh and the Davidic king, Rehoboam, Jeroboam quickly establishes new centers of worship for the Northern Kingdom. He crafts two golden calves, places them in Dan and Bethel, and boldly proclaims “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (I Kings 12:28). Furthermore, he even moves to establish a new priesthood and new feasts. There were kings who came after him; however, none of the northern kings followed after God. Even Jehu, who for a while did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, failed to turn from the sins of Jeroboam (II Kings 9:1-10:36). “He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” was the resounding refrain used to describe the kings of Israel. Finally, in 722 BC the Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrians and was carried off into exile because of their idolatry (cf. II Kings 17:6-41).

As the Assyrians are resettling Samaria the king makes a profound observation. Would someone read II Kings 17:25-28?

While the people do not listen and continue to serve both the LORD and carved images the Assyrian king’s recognition of the LORD’s judgment serves as a strong rebuke to Israel who failed to recognize the judgment of the LORD.

B. Judah ― The Southern Kingdom

Israel has several kings who did what “was right in the sight of the LORD” [Asa (I Kings 15:9-24, Jehoshaphat (I Kings 22:41-50), Joash (II Kings 11:1-12:21), Amaziah (II Kings 14:1-22), Azariah (II Kings 15:1-7), Jothan (II Kings 15:32-38), Hezekiah (II Kings 18:1-20:21), and Josiah (22:1-23:30)]; however, few of them lived up to the Davidic ideal. Ultimately, Judah is invaded by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and Jerusalem falls. He installs Zedekiah as king over Judah. Nebuchadnezzar eventually returns to Jerusalem and destroys both the city and the temple and carries a third group into exile in 587/586 BC (cf. II Kings 23:31-25:30).[70]

II. The Destruction of the Temple

To truly grasp the significance of the temple’s destruction we need to turn back to I Kings 8:1-11.

Will someone read that for us? What significant event has happened here?

Prior to this the glory of the LORD has filled the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35) and His glory has now filled the temple in Jerusalem. And yet in II Kings 24:20 we read, “For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.” The temple would then be destroyed and the LORD would no longer dwell amongst His people as before.

III. The Pre-exilic and Exilic Prophets

A. Introducing the Prophets

We do not have time to cover all of the prophets during this study. Because of this a brief summary of their message as well as a brief chronology will be given.

“The prophets were proclaimers of righteousness, preaching both law and promise, grace and judgment, to motivate the people to repentance and a life of obedience in the will and plan of God. Their predictions were often given as incentives to their contemporaries for holy living in that day, seeing that the future belonged to their God and to his righteous reign.”[71]

B. Israel ― The Northern Kingdom

Pre-exilic Prophets ― Eighth Century BC: Amos, Hosea, and Jonah

C. Judah ― The Southern Kingdom

1. Pre-exilic Prophets ― Eighth Century BC: Isaiah and Micah

2. Exilic Prophets ― Seventh Century BC: Daniel, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Joel, Nahum, Obadiah, and Zephaniah

3. Post-exilic Prophets ― Sixth Century BC: Haggai, Malachi, and Zechariah

IV. The Divided Kingdom and Exile as Eschatology

While this period begins with the destruction of the temple, of Jerusalem, and the deportation of God’s people it also begins with a sense of hope and expectation as this situation will not be permanent. God’s people are left to look forward to a time when He will restore Israel under the leadership of an unseen yet future Davidic king. But for now all of the promises appear to be lost; the land has been disinherited, the king dethroned, and Yahweh has removed His protection from them. When will restoration come?


How does Israel’s current situation resemble situations from their past and toward what end is the LORD working in the division of the kingdom and the exile?

[70]The three exiles are 605 BC (Daniel 1:1-7), 597 BC (II Kings 24:10-16), and 587/586 (II Kings 25:1-21).

[71]Kaiser, The Promise-Plan of God, 153.


14. The Monarchy and God’s Covenant with David

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As the book of Judges continually echoed the need for a king our attention must now turn to the book of Samuel and king David to whom the book of Ruth directs our attention. Is he the great king prophesied in Genesis 49:8-12 or will fulfillment await a future generation? How will Israel respond to her kings? Will they be characterized by apostasy as in the time of the Judges or will they submit themselves to the LORD and His king?

I. I and II Samuel

A. I and II Samuel in Context

I and II Samuel were originally one volume and it was not until the translation of the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, that a division was made. Unlike several of the books that we have studied thus far neither the author nor the time of writing for the book of Samuel is clear. However, the frequent mention of Israel and Judah as separate entities point to a date that is sometime after the division of the kingdom. The book of Samuel is framed by Hannah’s prayer (I Samuel 2:1-10) and David’s Psalms (II Samuel 22:1-23:7). These two sections set forth the work’s major themes.

  • Yahweh as the Rock of Israel
  • Yahweh’s victory over Israel’s enemies
  • Yahweh’s blessing upon Israel
  • The establishment of Yahweh’s kingdom through His anointed king, or Messiah[65]

Yahweh’s action to accomplish these events represents a source of tremendous hope to a generation who witnessed the failure of Israel’s monarchy.

B. Samuel ― One who Speaks for God

“The books of 1 and 2 Samuel start with the story of a barren woman and a barren nation. . . . Like Israelites, who at this time are being oppressed by their enemies, Hannah cries out to the LORD to take away the stigma of her infertility (1 Samuel 1).”[66] The birth of Hannah’s son, Samuel, represents both the end of her infertility and that of Israel as comes as a prophet (I Samuel 3:19-20) whose ministry represented the return of the Word of the Lord to Israel after a long period of near silence (I Samuel 3:1).

C. Saul ― A King like the Nations

Would someone read I Samuel 8:1-9? We have already noted that a king was prophesied from the line of Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) so the idea of kingship is not what the LORD takes issue with. How has Israel erred in their request?

They desire a king that will rule them like the nations and such a desire represents the rejection of Yahweh as their king. In accordance with their request the LORD gives them their desire and Saul becomes king (I Samuel 9-10). Saul defeats many of Israel’s enemies; however, he soon begins to ignore the Word of the LORD and God rejects Saul as king (I Samuel 15:10-35). Saul’s life ends tragically when facing immanent defeat, against the Philistines, he takes his own life (I Samuel 31:1-7).

D. David ― A King after God’s Heart

With the rejection of Saul the Yahweh declared “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you” (I Samuel 13:14). This man was David who was anointed by Samuel, for the Lord, and upon whom the LORD’s spirit came (I Samuel 16:1-13). David rose in prominence and after the death of Saul he was anointed as king over Judah (II Samuel 2:1-4) and finally as king over all of Israel (II Samuel 5:1-5). Despite his many failures David “typified theocratic kingship”[67] and became the standard by which future kings were judged.

E. The Davidic Covenant

During this study two types of covenants have been discussed; what are they?

The two types of covenants are conditional and unconditional covenants. The Davidic Covenant is and unconditional covenant (II Samuel 23:5; Psalm 89:34-37) which was defined as “an arrangement imposed by a superior on subordinates . . . It usually designates an agreement made to or for, not with, the subordinate, depicting a legally binding promise which one party makes toward another.”[68] A unilateral covenant depends solely upon God’s covenant-keeping faithfulness for fulfillment.

Will someone read II Samuel 7:8-16? I have included it below as to aid our study.

8Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever'”II Samuel 7:8-16).

What promises does Yahweh make? The first four expand upon themes from the Abrahamic covenant from chapter 7.

  • Offspring/Seed: “I will raise up your offspring after you (v.12)”
  • Personal Blessing: “I will make for you a great name (v.9)”
  • Blessing to the Nations:
  • Land: “I will appoint a place for my people (v.10)”
  • National Blessing: “I will give you rest from all your enemies (v.11)”
  • A Dwelling place for Yahweh: “He [David’s offspring] shall build a house for my name (v.13)”
  • An Eternal Kingdom: “I will establish the throne of his [David’s offspring] kingdom forever (v.13)”
  • Fatherhood and Sonship: “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son (v.14)”

II. I and II Kings

A. I and II Kings in Context

As with I and II Samuel the book of Kings was originally one volume that was later divided. Also the author of Kings is unknown but the literature suggests that it was written during the Babylonian exile. It serves an exhortatory function, like the book of Judges, as it reminds Israel of its failure to heed the word of the Lord and the subsequent judgment that resulted in their exile. However, also like Judges, it points to Yahweh’s patience and longsuffering as He delays His judgment upon Israel’s apostasy.

B. Solomon ― A King whose Heart Turned from the LORD

Upon David’s death his son Solomon succeeds him as king (I Kings 2:10-12). Solomon is noted for his wisdom and under him Israel experiences prosperity and prophetic fulfillment. God raised up a seed after David, his name became great, Israel experienced peace with the nations and the nations benefited from Solomon’s wisdom, Solomon built the temple for Yahweh’s name, and David’s throne and dynasty was being established. However, “when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father” (I Kings 11:4). After the death of Solomon (11:43) the kingdom of Israel was divided in two with Israel in the north and Judah in the south (12:16-24).

III. The Monarchy and Davidic Covenant as Eschatology

“From this point onward the faithful remnant looked for a messiah of David with whom God would be present and by whom he would extend his peace, justice, righteousness, and wisdom to his people.”[69] While Israel experienced fulfillment of the Mosaic and Davidic covenants under Solomon the fulfillment was temporary and Israel was left anticipating the coming of one from David’s line who would establish God’s kingdom, build His house, and secure blessing for both Israel and the nations. Solomon’s reign serves to point Israel forward to an age of prosperity yet to come.


What themes do you see developing over Israel’s history and in what way do you find them to be helpful in your walk with God?

[65]VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, 206 and 215-216.

[66]Bartholomew and Goheen, The Drama of Scripture, 88.

[67]VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, 222.

[68]Busenitz, “Introduction to the Biblical Covenants,” 176.

[69]VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, 234.

13. Faithfulness to the Faithless

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The closing of Joshua created a strong tension between what Israel had been promised and their current situation. It forced the questions, “how long will Israel remain faithful to Yahweh?” and “how long will they maintain possession of the land?” This was compounded by the existence of various remnants of the nations whom they conquered among them and left open the possibility of disinheritance (Joshua 23:12-13). Judges will answer these questions as we see the relationship between Israel and these nations play itself out over the course of four-hundred years.

I. Judges

A. Judges in Context

While the events recorded in the book of Judges immediately follow the conquest of the land recorded in Joshua it was not written down, by Samuel, until around four-hundred years later, sometime during the beginning of Saul’s reign. This is significant because Israel was not longer comprised of people who had witnessed the mighty working of God to bring them out of Egypt or to conqueror the Promised Land. They had received these as stories and traditions. Rather than witnesses of God’s great saving acts this generation witnessed Israel’s apostasy and God’s subsequent judgment. This is the context in which the book of Judges was written and it served as both a warning and a reminder of how they arrived at their current situation.

B. The Narrative of Judges

Will someone read Judges 2:1-5? In what way did Israel fail to obey the Lord and what is His response to them?

Despite His promised protection Israel failed to drive out all the inhabitants of the land that He was giving to them. Because of this He is not going to drive them out; rather he is allowing them to stay so that their deities will ensnare Israel.

Will someone read Judges 2:6-15? What is significant about this new generation and what does this tell us about the past generation?

This new generation does not know the LORD or His mighty acts on Israel’s behalf. After the giving of the Ten Commandments Israel is exhorted to teach these commands to their children so that they and generations to come might not forget the mighty works of the LORD after they enter the Promised land (Deuteronomy 6; 11). The new generation does not know the LORD because of the previous generations failure to instruct them and their failure to drive out the inhabitants of the land.

We have talked about how God’s presence is often equated to God’s protection in what way is 11-15 related to God’s presence and when did the LORD warn them of this?

This is the negative aspect of God’s presence. Positively God’s presence means His protection but negatively His presence necessitates His judgment of sin. God has warned them of the dangers of disobedience throughout the Scripture that has been recorded at this point in history but no clearer is this seen than in the lists of covenant blessings and curses (cf. Deuteronomy 4-26).

Will someone read Judges 2:16-23? This section serves to summarize the cyclical pattern which is presented in the book of Judges. What is this pattern and what does it teach us about God and His covenant?

The pattern presented in Judges is that of apostasy, false repentance, temporary salvation, and then continued apostasy. Their repentance is false because it is based upon their physical situation (2:18) and not upon their relationship with Yahweh. This teaches us that God is faithful to His covenant. He has not destroyed them because he has made an everlasting covenant with them; He will make Israel a great nation and a blessing to the nations. However, we see that while God will keep His covenant to Israel the people can forfeit their participation in the covenant blessings to a future generation. Furthermore, we see God’s fatherly concern for Israel’s wellbeing as He disciplines His people in hopes of their repentance and return to Him.

Judges 21:25 (cf. 17:6) is in many ways a summation of the entire period of the judges but in an important way it also serves as an argument for what is to come. Would someone read this verse for us? As Judges was written during the beginning of Saul’s reign what argument is this verse making?

It is arguing for the importance and necessity of the monarchy. Everyone did as they saw fit because there was no king. This both reminds Israel of their failures in the conquest, the profound grace of God amidst their apostasy, and the necessity of divinely appointed leadership.

II. Ruth

A. Ruth in Context

The book of Ruth come to us sometime before or during David’s reign and it records events that began during the time of the Judges to the birth of David. While it was written in a similar context to that of Judges is serves two far different function. First, is serves as a rebuke as we see Yahweh working among Gentiles and their faithfulness to Him during a period marked by the apostasy of Israel. Second, it serves as a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness to fulfill His promises (Genesis 49:8-12).

B. The Narrative of Ruth

Will someone read Ruth 1:1-7?

Naomi then pleads with her two daughter-in-laws asking them to return to their mother’s house and marry. Orpah returns to her people but Ruth stays with Naomi, which is where we will pick up in 1:15-18.
While her character is praised later in the book by Boaz (3:11) here we see a profound statement of her loyalty to both Naomi and to Yahweh. This is a harsh rebuke to Israel that in the midst of their apostasy a
Will someone read that for us? This verse is often read at weddings, and it is a profound statement if loyalty, but what is really said here?

Gentile would chose to commit herself to the people of Israel and their God. Furthermore, it is a reminder that God will bless the nations through the seed of Abraham even in spite of their faithlessness.

Ruth then encounters “a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech, whose name was Boaz” (2:1). This relationship introduces the reoccurring theme of a kinsman-redeemer who “could redeem (1) a family member sold into slavery (Lev. 25:47-49), (2) land which needed to be sold under economic hardship (Lev. 25:23-28), and /or (3) the family name by virtue of a levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5-10).”[64] This theme points Israel back to Yahweh as the redeemer of Israel in Egypt. Boaz redeems Ruth, they marry, and have a son named Obed. Obed is the fathers Jesse, who fathers David the king of Israel.

III. Judges and Ruth as Eschatology

Through Israel’s cycle of rebellion in Judges we are constantly confronted with the need for a king in Israel. Amidst the rebellion God’s faithfulness to His people and refusal to destroy them stands as a tremendous testimony to His commitment to fulfill His promises a commitment which is clearly seen in the book of Ruth. Despite Israel’s failure to be a blessing to the nations we see God calling the nations to Himself in the person of Ruth. Furthermore, it is through this gentile that David is born and we will see the significance of this event in I and II Samuel.


What do these two books teach us about Yahweh and His covenant?

[64]John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2005), 293.

12. The God Who Obtains Israel’s Inheritance

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Deuteronomy left us in a state of tension as it records Moses final words to Israel exhorting them to remain faithful to Yahweh as He fulfills His promises to them. This is a tension that remains throughout the book of Joshua as we see God’s people struggle to remain faithful even amidst God’s mighty acts to obtain and secure an inheritance, a permanent dwelling place, for His people.

I. The Conquest in Context

The book of Joshua was written by Joshua during the time of the conquest and it emphasizes the unity of Israel. We saw before how the creation and fall narratives emphasize our solidarity with Adam and the whole of humanity. The narratives of the patriarchs explained the origin of Israel as descendants of Abraham and recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant. Then we learned how Deuteronomy gives unity to this covenant structure by extending the promises to this new generation. The writing of Joshua then expresses this solidarity as it applies to the twelve tribes of Israel. During the exodus and wondering in the desert they existed in close proximity to one another; however, now as they move to enter the land they will be spread over great distances, depending upon their portion. Despite this geographical divide the book of Joshua reminds them of their common “history, traditions, and divinely revealed law, which bound them together, as it were, by a divine constitution.”[60]

II. The Narrative of the Conquest

Like Deuteronomy we do not have sufficient time to work through the book of Joshua with great detail. The outline below will allow us to briefly overview the narrative of Joshua while introducing us to several important themes that we need to study in detail.

  • Joshua is Commissioned by the Lord and Assumes Leadership (1)
  • Scouting the Land (2)
  • Entering the Land (3-5)
  • Conquering the Land (6-12)
  • Dividing the land (13-22)
  • Joshua’s Final Exhortations and Death (23-24)

III. Important Themes in Joshua

A. Yahweh’s Provision

If there is one thing that the book of Joshua makes clear for us it is that the Lord graciously acts on behalf of His people to secure the fulfillment of His promises to them. Israel is not responsible for conquering the land Yahweh is. Yahweh’s words to Joshua in 1:1-9 make this point expressly clear.

Would someone read that passage for us? What is the source of Joshua’s and Israel’s confidence?

Their confidence is in the presence of the Lord because God’s presence means His protection as well. Even more so when the spies encounter Rahab we see that the LORD’s reputation precedes Him.

Will someone read Joshua 2:1-16? What is the source of the nations’ fear? Are they afraid of Israel or her God? What name does Rahab call Israel’s God? Why is this significant?

The nations fear the God of Israel because His reputation as a warrior has preceded them. Furthermore, they are afraid because they know that He has given this land as an inheritance to Israel. Rahab does not refer ambiguously to Israel’s God; no she calls Him Yahweh. This is the name of the God who deliver’s Israel from slavery in Egypt and this God will deliver Rahab and her family as well.

B. Yahweh’s Holiness

The most difficult aspect of Joshua for us to cope with is the command that certain cities be completely destroyed.

Will someone please read Joshua 6 for us? What is your immediate reaction to that? How would you respond if the president announced that this would be our new policy for cities housing terrorists?

This is a very difficult question to answer and I want to look at it from several different perspectives. First, I want us to see it through the perspective of Israel’s sacrificial system. Second, I want us to see it from a redemptive-historical perspective. Finally, I want us to see it against the backdrop of God’s longsuffering, pertaining both to Israel and to these particular nations.

First, within the sacrificial system we see that this,

“was just the opposite of a voluntary whole-burnt offering in which the offerer willingly gave up the entire animal in an act of total submission (Lev 1; cf. Ro 12:1-2). Here, after much divine longsuffering and waiting, God called for everything that belonged to him in the first place ― life, possessions, valuables ― as an involuntary whole-burnt offering.”[61]

From the perspective of Israel they experienced this reality, although vicariously, as a continual aspect of life and fellowship with God. This is a profound reminder of God’s grace towards Israel because He is not partial in the administration of His judgment.

Would someone read Deuteronomy 12:29-31? What is the motivation behind this destruction?

Would someone read Deuteronomy 13:12-18? Is God’s promised response to an idolatrous Israel any different than His response to the Idolatry of the nations? Why then is this a reminder of Yahweh’s grace towards Israel [Think back to the golden calf (Exodus 32) or Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 13-14)]?

Second, when understood redemptive-historically we see the solidarity of humanity in judgment and the solidarity of renewed humanity in grace. Speaking specifically of Achan’s sin (Joshua 7) Goldsworthy explains,

“We see the principal of corporateness that operates in Scripture. The one represents the many because of the corporate solidarity or oneness of that group. Thus the whole human race sinned in Adam. . . . In Abraham the whole nation was chosen. Through the ministrations of one priest all the people are reconciled to God. And so it will develop until the ideas of representation and substitution become fixed in the concept of salvation. Now the leader, Joshua (whose name means “Jehovah is salvation”), mediates the saving and judging acts of God.”[62]

This concept of solidarity was first introduced to us in Genesis 3:15. Here we observed that while humanity is unified with Adam in rebellion and subsequently the curse. The hope of this verse is that while we all are under the curse and deserve judgment there is a second solidarity, not with fallen Adam but with the victorious head-crushing offspring of Eve. We see this reality played out both in Israel’s own struggle with unbelief and its struggles with the unbelieving nations.

Finally, this event paints a profound picture of the longsuffering and unfathomable grace of God. Turning back to Genesis 15:16 we read, “And they [Israel] shall come back here [the land] in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Now some 600 years later Joshua is leading Israel to take possession of the land that the Lord is giving them. Looking back to Deuteronomy 12:31 we see that the inhabitants of the land practiced human sacrifice to their god’s. In light of Yahweh’s command to totally destroy certain cities his patient endurance of their sin paints a profound picture of His grace and we see the fruit of that grace in the deliverance of Rahab and her family.

IV. The Conquest as Eschatology

“The stage is set for Israel to live as a light to the nations. God’s response to mutiny in his good creation has been to elect one man, Abraham, and then to recover part of the earth and to place Abraham’s descendants there. Israel in the land is meant to be a taste of what God intends for the whole of his creation.”[63]

And indeed the repentance and deliverance of Rahab and her family is a foretaste of how God will bless the nations through Abraham. Yahweh had fulfilled His promises to Israel. As Joshua 21:43-45 records:

“Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”

And yet the concluding chapters of Joshua end on a solemn note similar to that of Deuteronomy. Israel has conquered the land and it has been apportioned to the twelve tribes of Israel. But with Joshua’s closing exhortation one is forced to ask how long will Israel remain faithful to Yahweh? How long will they maintain possession of the land? This points us to the tension between the already and the not yet found throughout the rest of Scripture. They have already been delivered from slavery, they are already free to worship God as God’s people, in God’s place, and under God’s rule; but they land is not yet permanently and fully theirs. There remains among them remnants of the nations whom they conquered and disinheritance looms ever on the horizon (Joshua 23:12-13).

With this tension between the already and the not yet we are forced to conclude that this situation points us forward to a greater fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. This points us to when God’s people, in God’s place, and under God’s rule may worship Him freely forever without the threat of disinheritance.


In what way does the possession of the land and the already/not yet tension expand your understanding of the church? What principles learned from Israel’s situation remain applicable today?

[60]VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, 166.
[61]Walter C. Kaiser Jr., The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 102.
[62]Goldsworthy, According to Plan, 158.
[63]Bartholomew and Goheen, The Drama of Scripture, 83.

11. A Solemn Reminder

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Throughout our study we have continually seen God demonstrate His faithfulness to His covenants and His gracious disposition towards humanity and His creation. In the garden He spoke the redemptive promise Adam and Eve. When humanity’s sin was too much to bear God spared Noah and his family. When God scattered the nations at Babel He also graciously called Abram from among the nations to bless the nations. The descendants of Abraham grew to become the twelve tribes of Israel and seeking refuge from famine they settled in Egypt under the care of Joseph. Then, however, “a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8) and Israel was enslaved there for four hundred years. God, remaining faithful to His covenant, delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt and yet they were dissatisfied and often longed to return to slavery than continue to rely upon the provision of their God. The situation climaxed at Kadesh Barnea when Moses sent spies into the land of Canaan and the people of Israel rebelled because they feared the inhabitants of the land (Numbers 13-14).

I. Deuteronomy in Context

Deuteronomy begins forty years after the rebellion at Kadesh Barnea. During those forty years the entirety of that rebellious generation except Moses, Caleb, and Joshua perished in the wilderness. “A wholistic reading of Deuteronomy presents us with a series of speeches in which Moses presents Israel about to enter the Promised Land with the continuity of covenant and promises, graciously extended by the Lord to the new generation, and urges them to respond to Yahweh in faith and obedience for the sake of the future generations.”[59]

II. Deuteronomy in Outline

  • Remembering Israel’s Rebellion and Subsequent Judgment (1-3)
  • Covenant Obligations, Blessings, and Curses (4-26)
  • A Command to Respond (27-30)
  • Joshua Commissioned to Lead Israel (31)
  • The Song of Moses (32)
  • Moses’ Blessing upon Israel and Death (33-34)

III. The Message of Deuteronomy

What is Deuteronomy teaching us? What is it’s central thrust and message?

Deuteronomy demonstrates God’s unwavering faithfulness to His promises in spite of rebellion and subsequent judgment God’s purposes stand and He will bring about their fulfillment.

IV. Deuteronomy as Eschatology

Unlike the Adamic, Noaic, and Abrahamic Covenants this covenant and the Mosaic are conditional. There are blessings and curses attached to them that depend upon Israel’s obedience or disobedience. Yes, God will fulfill His promises to Adam, Noah, and Abraham but as we saw with the generation that perished in the dessert this generation may or may not enjoy the blessing of covenant fulfillment. Deuteronomy 28:62-63 presents this generation with this staggering reality. Will the land be theirs? Will they enjoy God’s presence and protection? Will they continue to increase? Or will they forsake their God and leave these blessings for future fulfillment?


How is the central thrust and message of Deuteronomy an encouragement to us?

[59]VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, 140.