What had become of God’s covenant with Israel? Had it all come to nothing? The ark of the covenant itself was gone! Was that old story even true? Now that we’ve walked through the great narrative of the Old Testament, you can see how these questions must have been on the minds of Ezekiel and Jeremiah and countless others, tramping off to exile and leaving their destroyed homeland behind. …There spread out on the valley’s floor are the people of Israel, dead for so long that they’re nothing but dry bones. They are very many; they are very dry. And the Lord points out over the valley of bones and asks Ezekiel a question: “Mortal, can these bones live?”
Christians need not be shaken to our core on this or any other cultural issue. Not on this or any other point of dissension. Not on this or any other question of authority. Because God is our final answer. God is our ultimate hope. God is our foundation, God is our core. And something so relatively silly as the way that we’ve chosen to govern ourselves for the last 300 years, is not in the same ballpark as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of creation, the God in Jesus Christ.
Today, we get three pictures of David. First his crowning as king: David unites a collection of divided tribes under one kingdom. Second, David leads a procession to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, where it would reside until Jerusalem was destroyed and taken into exile centuries later. David reigns with the staggeringly powerful presence of God at the center of his kingdom. This will be our primary focus today.
But the third image we see in our Psalm, where we hear from David, fresh off his sin of adultery with Bathsheeba, and his murder of her husband Uriah. There we hear how God’s mercy and steadfast love are the foundation of David’s audacious boldness to seek God’s forgiveness and beg for God’s covenant faithfulness to remain with him even after such blatant and public failure.
So let us sit with the Israelites, brothers and sisters as we are with them, and hear again the call that God speaks to each of our hearts, and not only to each of us as a person or an individual, but -- with more of that holy trembling -- speaks to us as a community, as a body made of many parts, as people who belong to and with one another, who are responsible for each other, who love one another not only with word but also action, and love not only one another or the people in the pews around us, but even our messy neighbors, and our annoying coworkers, and our exasperating in-laws, and our impossible exes.
The God of power and might is the God who makes a way where there is no way. The almighty and eternal God, the great I AM who spoke from the burning bush, is the God who has the power to be faithful to his promises—I am who I am, I will be who I am, I will be who I promised to be.
This is what happens in the story of Moses.
In the story of Abram and this covenant, we learn about the character of this God, and we see that he has decided the way to bring creation back from the brink, back from brokenness, is through love, and not just loving people in a sort of wordy, philosophical, or abstract way. God doesn’t just send a check to the homeless shelter or dispatch a stork from heaven, carrying a baby. In choosing a specific hopeless person, Abram, and pouring all that love and trust and hope into him, God shows his love is involved. His love is personal, and invasive, and persuasive, and overwhelming -- dare I say -- transforming.
Old Testament Sermon Series, Week One: For the rest of your life when you hear an Old Testament story about Israel, we want you to hear it not as a story about some ancient people long ago and far away, but as the story of your life that we’re living out as the people of God today.
There’s nothing wrong with eating cookies, but consistently lying to yourself about why you’re eating cookies, or why you’re drinking wine, or why you’re snapping at your spouse, or why you’re bone-tired; there is something wrong with lying to yourself, with covering up the real wound in your life, with making things more complicated than they actually are.