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Growing in Gratitude


HOmeward Bound Series


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Devotional Thought - April 22  

Clay Howell

What Does it Mean to be Israel?

Ask for 8 volunteers “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking a ___”  Begin with this game to emphasize memory.  This will tie in at the end of the lesson.

Before we launch into the story of Jesus and the hope we have as Christians, we must first look at the hope of Israel.

So, what is the hope of Israel?

-What even is “Israel” for that matter?  

-What does it mean to be Israel?

First, Israel is chosen.

-set apart by God

-a holy nation

-the people of God

While being chosen by God may seem like a great arrangement, one does not have to read very far into the OT to learn that Israel’s history was not always sunshine and roses.

-like a teacher’s pet in school; they may receive special attention and treatment, but that doesn’t mean things are always going to go great for them.

Have you ever been chosen for something you wanted, but it was a large responsibility? What was your experience like?

Read Genesis 32:24-32

Second, “Israel” means to struggle with God.

Unfortunately, to be the people of Israel often means to be a people who struggle.

Throughout its history in the OT, Israel faced both internal and external struggles.

Internal: Israel struggled with both their leadership and their faithfulness to God

-Defied Moses on Mt. Sinai; created Golden Calf

-Intermarried with pagan nations; forsaking their God: Yahweh

-Israel rejected the authority of the judges God appointed them, therefore rejecting God Himself

Judges 21:25-Final verse in the book: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

-This statement can be read with a sense of irony.  There was no king in Israel? Of course Israel had a king--The Lord God Almighty had always been King of Israel, and always will be.

Israel also struggled externally:

-enslaved by Egypt for 400 years

-conquered and exiled by Babylon and Syria

When Israel was exiled, the temple was defiled and the wall of Jerusalem was destroyed.

-In the ancient world, a people with no wall had no protection, and a people with no temple had no identity (no god.)

Finally, to be Israel means to Remember.

-Passover feast

-Deuteronomy 6:20-23

-Joshua 4:20-24

Just as God rescued Israel from the slavery of Egypt, He has rescued us from the slavery of sin.  Just like Israel, we are chosen, we struggle, and we remember.

As Christians, we are never promised that we will not go through trials.  We are guaranteed to struggle.  

This is why we must remember.  Part of faith is remembering that God has rescued us from slavery in the past, and having hope that He will rescue us again, even in the midst of our struggle.  

When is a time when you’ve been able to have hope even in the middle of a difficult situation?