Over the Memorial Day weekend I had a couple of days off and decided to finish a book I’d started a few days before. For the most part, the book was rather benign until I got deeper into it and realized the full content of what I was reading. There was, of course, deceit, trickery, deception and the like. Not unusual for most books. Then I began to run into incest, rape, wholesale murder, mutilation of body parts, polygamy and the like. I found myself wanting to come to those words “the end” but I never did. It just stopped with an unexpected conclusion that made me wonder what comes next.
Well, what comes next is the Book of Exodus. What I was reading was the Book of Genesis. As I pondered some of the details in the book it became evident that the writer was not intent toward focusing on individuals in the story and their specific exploits and revelations. It was a story about a people. How the family of Israel become the people of Israel.
It seems to me that sometimes we forget that the Pentateuch is not so much about the individuals as it is the birthing of a people. A people who will become the “sons of God.” A people who God will not only call out from among the nations, but a people that he will nurture and sustain through difficulties and rebellion that would bring even the most patient father to exasperation. Nevertheless, God stays committed to them. He not only made a covenant with them through Abraham, but he also has an agenda and his people are THE primary part of that agenda.
There are also times when it seems we forget the mission of the church. It is not so much that God has his eye on the individual, but the church as the body of Christ. His agenda is for the bride of Christ as the called out ones. Because we all have our personal sin baggage, as did the individuals of Israel’s OT history, as individuals we will not thwart God’s agenda. His agenda is bigger than any one person. For that I am forever grateful. Now it is not inaccurate to say the writer of the Pentateuch makes no secret about hiding the failures of individuals but shows the backside of that as God uses them in spite of their failures. The same is true in the NT to a certain degree. But it does not seem to be the primary focus in either setting.
Yes, perhaps I should be more careful with what I read. Then again, perhaps I should be more careful with the story I’m writing as child of God. I know God can fulfill his agenda without my participation. However, I’d still like to be a part of that agenda.