I have mentioned recently that I am doing a slow read from Genesis to Revelation searching for the thread of promise to Abraham:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
By doing this, I am picking up on details that have eluded me the other numerous times I have read through the Bible in a year. I am reading with focused attention so I don’t miss any of the references to the Promise. In doing this I have, in some sense, felt like I have journeyed with the Israelites trying to imagine their fears and victories, ups and downs, mountain tops and valleys. I can identify with this people in more ways than I care to admit.
The people of Israel knew God’s promise to Abraham, yet here they were in bondage, slaves in Egypt. This guy Moses comes along and tells them that “I AM” sent him to lead them out of Egypt.[i] They get all excited, but their hopes are quickly dashed when Pharaoh not only denies their request but increases their burden by making them find their own straw without reducing their brick quota.[ii] Soon, they want Moses to leave them alone, fearing he will only make things worse.[iii]
Moses is undeterred and after 10 plagues, including the death of all of Egypt’s firstborn, Pharaoh lets them go. Realizing he has just let his workforce go, he takes his army and pursues them.
Soon after leaving Egypt, Israel is trapped between the Red Sea and the thundering hooves of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots. God led them out of the bondage of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, and drowned the Egyptians. His presence is evident in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire which stay with them for their entire journey.
They get thirsty – God sends water from a rock.[iv]
They get hungry – God sends manna and quail.[v]
God gives them instructions to build the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.[vi]
Throughout their journey, God tells Moses to remind the people of the promise He made to Abraham.
Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Ex 3:16-16. God told them, “I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.” Ex 6:8. They knew that the promise to Abraham many generations before was within their grasp.
By the end of Numbers 12, Israel “camped in the wilderness of Paran” 12:16.
I turned the page of my Bible and there it was. Numbers 13. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel…” 13:1-2.
I personally felt exhilaration. I felt a sense of excitement, a mere whisper of what they must have felt. They were finally going to see the land of promise. I have read this record dozens of times but I have never felt what I felt this time. I know how the story goes but I am trying to experience it the way they did.
If you have never tried this slow read journey through Scripture I highly recommend it. Pick a topic – and read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation searching for every reference to that topic. Journal it. Don’t worry about how long it takes. It is a wonderful experience of the Word.
Diane Hunt serves part-time on the staff of America’s Keswick providing ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Exodus 3:14-15
[ii] Exodus 5:7-8
[iii] Exodus 5:20-21
[iv] Exodus 17:1-6
[v] Exodus 16
[vi] Exodus 25-27