The destruction, collapse, and eventual Exile of the Northern and Southern kingdoms posed major challenges for the elites and people of Israel and Judah.
Faced with defeat, destruction of infrastructures and institutions, how do you sustain and rebuild a nation? How do you create new narratives when the prevailing one fails to hold water?
In a strange way instead of wallowing in defeat, The Exile afforded them the opportunity to debate, challenge old paradigms, and to come up with a roadmap for nation building.
When the opportunity came, they seized it! Some returned to Palestine, started capturing and documenting their oral history and culture, addressing loose ends in theological understanding, and providing new narratives to old and new challenges, some based on what they gleaned from other cultures.
Perhaps most importantly they realised that they lacked military might (By strength shall no man prevail, 1 Sam. 2:9), so they invested in knowledge acquisition. This also meant moving away from the central authorities of the monarchy and priesthood, and making the people sustainers of the Nation. No need for kings, prophets or oracles. Rather, the people were to be educated, and the Text made accessible to them. So the synagogues became the centre of knowledge transfer and community life, the home a hub for reinforcing such knowledge.
They designed a curriculum, and embarked on an educational system which many argue is the blue print for Western education. The Community was bound to One God and Covenant; hence the term ‘gentiles’. This curriculum is what we know today as the Old Testament. Scribes and Rabbis will be trained to maintain this system, commentaries will be added to the original Text, and the Text will be revised and edited a few times; leading to the version we have today.
By the time of our Lord, these radical reforms would have sustained the Community through wars, natural disasters, famine and various military invasions.
Jesus will come on the scene, make further reforms, then commission his disciples to move it beyond the Community and into the World. To this end Paul argues that,
“in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” – 2 Cor. 5:19
Join us on Sunday as we continue with my series: God was in Christ, when I will be speaking on: Incarnation, Nativity and Second Coming.
The Parish Hall
St John’s Sidcup,
Kent DA14 6BX
Reachout | Revive | Recover