person who claims to love him be his agent orambassador, working to reverse the effects ofthe fall.
Therefore, right in Genesis, God made acovenant or promise with Abraham, the father ofthe nation of Israel (Jewish people). If Abrahamtrusted God alone, God would lead him to a newland and make his descendants a great nation.All the nations of the earth would be blessedthrough Abraham.
Six hundred years later, after God led theIsraelites out of slavery in Egypt under theleadership of Moses, God created the firsttheocracy—Israel—a nation led by God. God,speaking through Moses, wrote their lawsand told them where they were to go and howthey were to live. God was their literal king. Heinstructed them to begin offering ceremonialsacrifices for their sins, looking forward tothe day when he would provide the one finalsacrifice he would ever require. He also madea new covenant with Israel. If Israel would servehim alone and live according to the ceremonialand moral laws he gave them, he would givethem the land he promised Abraham and makethem a showcase of prosperity, peace, andblessing. Other nations would see the greatnessof God and they, too, would choose to love andhonor him, thereby expanding God’s kingdom onearth.
Unfortunately Israel did not live up to their endof the bargain. They rejected God as their Kingand asked for a human king like other countries.Whenever those kings and Israel obeyed God,they prospered. However as soon as theyprospered, they began worshiping other godsand disobeying God’s moral laws, disregardingthe poor and embarrassing God. When Godpunished them, they repented and started livinglike the people of God again, only to repeat thecycle over and over.
But something went terribly wrong. Satan,an angel who rebelled against God prior tocreation, tempted Adam and Eve to disobeyGod. Ever since “the fall”, every personexcept Jesus has been born with a sin naturepredisposed to distrust God and others andconstantly trying to live independent of both.Some of the consequences of sin are death,broken relationships, selfish behavior, fear andlack of purpose, but most importantly, ourrelationship with God is broken. Sin traps peopleand destroys dreams. But sin’s effects are notlimited to mankind and society. Animals, plantsand the earth itself have been affected.
Satan himself has a kingdom, what the Biblerefers to as “the world”. Satan is the championof disobedience—tempting and deceivinghumans to continually ignore God. As a result,the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of thisworld are sworn enemies. Those in God’skingdom are committed to loving God andcaring for other people and his world. Thosein Satan’s kingdom are committed to self-fulfillment and autonomy from their creator; theyhave other gods and allegiances. It is not otherreligions, philosophies, or even non-Christianswho are the enemy. The enemy is Satan and theself-deceptive power of sin in each of us.
But all is not lost. Right in the Garden of EdenGod initiated his plan to redeem… rescue hisworld. Central to that plan was the sendingof a Messiah, or Savior. However, God’sredemption plan did not lay dormant until Jesuscame, nor was God content to simply redeemmankind spiritually. God’s passion was that hisoriginal intentions for mankind and his worldbe restored. Love, justice, and
, orGod’s peace, would again be the norm (albeitimperfect until Jesus returns again).
isthe wholeness or deep contentment achievedwhen all things are working in harmony asGod intended. God’s expectation is that every