Dancing in the Kingdom – Table of Contents

Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 6 – A Nation Emerges

Fullness of time

[Bible references: Genesis 15:16; Exodus 2-4; 7-11; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:1-14]

The emerging story of the chosen people of God becoming a nation started slowly with Abraham, with one child of the promise, Isaac, who had two children, only one through whom the promise would come, Jacob. Finally, Jacob had thirteen children. But it would take time for that family to grow into a size that could be called a nation – and that took a couple hundred more years – in which time the “sin of the Amorites would reach their full measure.”

Although the Bible does not specifically mention it, there may have been other things that God was waiting to happen such as the development of the Israelite community and the consequent interaction of the Israelite community with the Egyptian community during the Israelite captivity. God allowed events to gradually unfold until “the fullness of time” came for God to orchestrate a dramatic release of the Israelite community. This event would serve as a foreshadowing of another event, the spiritual release of all peoples from slavery to sin.

So it was, that in the fullness of time, when the sin of the Amorites reached its full measure,[1] Yahweh called Moses to release the enslaved Israelites from Egypt to bring Israel back to the Promised Land.

Discipline, Miracles, and Death

[Bible references: Genesis 15:13-14. Exodus 7-11; 12:31-36; 13:17-22; 16; 17:1-7; 20; 32; Numbers 13-14]

Miracles abounded.

There were the ten plagues that God brought upon the Egyptian captors to show the Pharoah that Yahweh was not just a local God in Canaan but that His power extended over all creation, even in the land of the Egyptian gods. In the process, the Pharoah’s own heart continued to harden against Yahweh to the point where God would seal the Pharoah’s fate and further harden the Pharoah’s heart. In the end, it took the killing of the firstborn of Egyptian families, including the family of the Pharoah to not only convince the Pharaoh to let people of Israel go, but the people of Egypt also supplied the people of Israel with great wealth as they left, with some Egyptians joining the people of Israel in their flight.

Then there was the miracles of the pillars of cloud and fire, which would continue until the nation entered the Promised Land, and the miracle which let Israel cross the Red Sea on dry land followed by the drowning of the Egyptian army. The pattern of punishing a nation that was used to discipline the people of Israel would be repeated throughout Biblical history.[2]

Once on their way, the Israelites experienced more miracles, the mountain enshrouded in a cloud where Yahweh talked with Moses and delivered the Commandments and other rules, manna and quail falling from the sky, springs of water in the desert. Despite seeing all those miracles, Israel wasn’t ready to have Yahweh lead them into the Promised Land to face the obstacles there and so God had them encamp in the wilderness for 40 years until all the adults who refused to trust Yahweh died. So many deaths must have happened, but scripture barely mentions them. Here we will see, not for the last time, which seeing miracles not only did not change hearts but that all our hearts seem predisposed to turn away from God.

[1] cp. Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10; see also White, James Emery. “Is God a Moral Monster? The Slaughter of the Canaanites” Church&Culture 22 Oct 2020 http://www.churchandculture.org/blog/2020/10/22/is-god-a-moral-monster

[2] Ex: Egypt (Genesis 15:13-14). Babylon (Isaiah 13, 21,23), Assyria (Isaiah 10, 14; Zephaniah 2)


Often, when we are younger, we think we know everything. But most of the time, we discover over time that we need maturing – to grow in wisdom – a process that takes time and experience. What things have you learned through time and experience?


Read Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:3-14. We do not have God’s perspective. We don’t know why God waited so long after the time of Adam and Eve before Messiah came – the first time. We don’t know why God is waiting to return. Not with all the pain and suffering we see around us. What hints do these passages provide for us?


We discover in the Exodus narrative, that being able to see and to live in the midst of miracles, was not sufficient to change the hearts of the people. What does that say about us?


Read Exodus 8-10. In the narrative of the 10 plagues, several times we are told that Pharoah hardened his heart, but then there came a time when Yahweh reinforced that trajectory and Yahweh hardened the Pharoah’s heart. What kind of warning might that be?


Dancing in the Kingdom – Table of Contents

Part 1 – Shadows of the Kingdom, Chapter 5 – Patriarchs

Walk of faith

[Bible references: Genesis 12:1-20; 15:1-6; 16:1-5; 17:1-14; 20:1-13; 22:1-18; 24:7; 28:16: 50:24; Romans 4:9; Hebrews 11:17]

Sometime after the scattering of nations, from the line of Shem and Noah, God called a man named Abram to leave his country in the Euphrates River Valley and go to a land “I will show you.” As Abram left his home country, at the age of seventy-five, God promised not only to bless Abram and his descendants but to bless the entire world though Abram. Despite his occasional failures, Abram (later named Abraham) is noted for his faith because he believed God and showed this by being obedient in following God’s instructions even when they didn’t make sense.

When God called Abram to journey to another land, we don’t know what earlier experience Abram or his family or any other citizens of Ur or Haran may have had with God. Was there any experience at all? If not, then with what confidence did Abram have that he was following God when he took that journey to the Promised Land?[1] Then after Abram arrived in the Promised Land, what further questions may Abram have had when he experienced a deep drought in that same land, such that he needed to take a brief trip to Egypt?

After Yahweh told Abram, that he would make a great nation from him, Abram initially expressed his faith by his obedience when he took that journey to the Promised land. Again, when Yahweh showed him the stars and told him that his descendants would be as numerous as those stars, Abram believed, and Yahweh credited that to him as righteousness. Then Yahweh reiterated the promise again when Abram was 99 years old and changed Abram’s name (which meant exalted Father) to Abraham (Father of many nations).

God told Abraham that a great nation would come out of him and Sarah. Yet, this did not look promising when the only son born to Abraham and Sarah was Isaac who was not even born until Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah was ninety. No wonder that Isaac was given a name that means “laughter.”


[Bible references: Gen 18:1-8; Hebrew 13:1-2]

One day, while Abraham was sitting in the entrance to his tent, he saw three visitors approaching and offered them water to wash their feet and then went to much effort to offer them something to eat and drink. As we read this description of Abraham’s greeting his visitors, it may sound extravagant to us, but would have been normal for the culture of the time. The normal custom was to regard visitors as those who have been sent by God.[2]

Pleading to God

[Bible references: Gen 18:16-33]

We don’t know the moment that Abraham recognized that one of the visitors was Yahweh, but it apparently happened by the time the visitors talked about Sodom and Gomorrah, which they were going to destroy. Concerned about his nephew Lot, who was living down there, Abraham made a plea to save the city if there were righteous people living in the city. At first, Abraham asked what if there were fifty righteous people living there, would they still destroy everyone there. When Yahweh said no, then Abraham asked, what about if there were 45 or 30 or 20 righteous people there.[3] Each time, Yahweh said that he would not wipe out everybody if there were only that many righteous people there. As it turned out, both Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed after Lot and his daughters were given the chance to escape.

Faith and obedience

[Bible references: Gen 22:1-19]

In one of the most controversial events, God called Abraham to take Isaac and go to a mountain, build an altar, and then offer Isaac as a sacrificial offering. Abraham must have severely tested, but Abraham did as he was told and went through the whole process to the point where he was about slay Isaac when God provided a substitute, a ram. Isaac would indeed be the next link in the genealogical chain connecting Abraham ultimately to the birth of the Messiah 2000 years later.

Slow and steady

[Bible references: Genesis 17:5; 21:4-5; 26:34; 2 Peter 3:8]

The man who Yahweh would say would be the “father of many nations” had only one son born very late in his life and that son, Isaac, would have only twins. Even then, Esau and Jacob were born late in Isaac’s life, so the “father of many nations” would die only seeing two grandchildren.

[1] Although the term “promised land” is not used directly as the place of where Abram and his descendants were called to settle down in, there are several references to the “land that is promised you.”

[2] Wight, Fred H. Manners and Customs of Bible Lands (Kindle Locations 863). 1953. Kindle Edition.

[3] De Young, Kevin. “Passionately Pleading with God is a Good Thing”


Making long-term commitments is always an act of faith, because we never know what all the circumstances will be in the future. What long-term commitments have you made and held to even when you encountered circumstances you never planned on?


Read Genesis 12:1-20. This renowned Patriarch of faith, Abram, believed Yahweh, and left his homeland to some destination that Yahweh would show to him. When Abram arrived at the place Yahweh led him to, he built an altar and set up his tent. Good start at a life of faith. Sometime afterwards, Abraham winds up in Egypt where he is now afraid for his life and asks his beautiful wife Sarah to say that she’s his sister instead of his wife, so that they people won’t kill him to get her. This does lead to complications we won’t discuss here but just to point out that we, never mind Abram, are subject to a wavering faith. Do you have incidents in your life where your faith wavered?


What kind of hospitality have you received that made you feel special?


Read Genesis 18:1-8; Hebrews 13:1-2. In the nomadic culture, hospitality was readily shown to any visitors as they were regarded as visitors from God. What keeps us from exhibiting the same attitude?


What passionate concerns do you want to bring to God?


Read Genesis 18:16-33; 1 Samuel 7:1-9; 2 Chronicles 30:1-20; Nehemiah 1:1-2:10; Philippians 1:3-10. How are we encouraged to plead to God?


The Hebrew word, “shema,” means not just “listen” but “listen and obey.” How often do we listen intently to a friend or loved one such that we are ready to provide for any need implied within the conversation?


Read Genesis 22:1-19; 1 Corinthians 10:13. Theologians have wrestled with this passage in Genesis as we cannot fathom how God could command a human sacrifice, even if He knew how He would intervene before it would happen. How confident are you that God will provide for you in the midst of difficult decisions?


God answers prayers on his timeline, not ours. He will fulfill his purpose for us – also on his timeline. Does that make you frustrated or assured?


Read Genesis 17:5; 21:4-5; 25:19-26; 2 Peter 3:8. God renamed Abram to “Father of many nations.” Abraham. Abraham had one “child of the promise,” Isaac whose only children were twin born when Abraham was 160 years old.  How do you make sense of that in light of 2 Peter 3:8?