Module 2: The Old Covenant
2/0 Introduction And Summary
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.God's New Initiative
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The Bible's first book Genesis, reveals 'beginnings', the beginning of creation and the beginning of our knowledge of God given through a man called Abraham. The next five books go on to show how God built Abraham's descendent into a nation, gave them rules for living, how they responded and, after testing in the wilderness, how they took possession of the land God had promised.

This Module follows those accounts and suggests questions to help us relate the rules to our life today.

(Module 3 will show us what God did about our constantly breaking his rules and, through Jesus, gave us a new beginning based on 'loving care'). (Return to top)
    Module Index
    2/0   Introduction & summary
    (This page)
    2/1   Creating A Nation  
    2/2   Freed For Service  
    2/3   Covenant Agreed  
    2/4   Rules For Living 

    2/5   God's Promise Kept
    (Return to Main Index)
Picture, Abraham
.Module 2/1 Genesis - Creating a Nation
Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless and passed childbearing age, yet God chose Abraham and made a Covenant (agreement) with him that if he would trust God and leave his settled home to go to an unspecified land, then he would have an heir and his descendants would be as many as the grains of sand on the seashore. The Module shows us Abraham's faith and develops the account through Abraham's son Isaac and grandson Joseph, who took the family and its dependents to Egypt. (Return to top)
  • Despite those around him believing in many pagan gods, Abraham put his trust in the one true God and was rewarded by becoming the source of 3 great religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
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Module 2/2 Exodus - Freed for Service
The Israelites prospered under the Pharaohs (the Egyptian king) until one Pharaoh saw them as a threat. He made them slaves and mistreated them, so they prayed to God for help.
God chose to act through the prophet Moses, sending ten plagues that got progressively worse, the last involving the death of all the Egyptians' first-born males, but it 'passed-over' the homes of the Israelites. That persuaded the Pharaoh to release them from slavery, but… he changed his mind and sent his army to bring them back again. The Israelites escaped through the sea, which parted enough to reveal a clear passage, and Pharaoh's army was drowned when the sea returned again. (Return to top)
  • Abraham's descendants were in Egypt for over 400 years and grew into hundreds of thousands - 600,000 men (they didn't count the women and children in those days!).

  • 'Passover' is still a major festival for Jews and has significance for Christians as it was when Passover was being celebrated that Jesus released us from the 'slavery' of death.
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.Module 2/3 Exodus - Covenant Agreed
Having escaped from slavery and the Egyptian army, the Israelites began to trek through the desert (wilderness) in search of the land God had promised Abraham. They quickly needed water and food so complained to Moses and God provided their needs.

God met Moses on Mount Sinai and gave him Commandments and Laws for the proper functioning of a people (society) under the headship of God, and a Covenant (agreement) that he would be their God if they would be his people. However, the people frequently complained and were quick to ignore the agreement. (Return to top)
  • The Covenant between God and the Israelites still forms the basis for Jewish life today, and much of Christian life too.

  • They had their first battle with the existing inhabitants, bringing Joshua to the fore as commander of the army, and Moses appointed judges to resolve their arguments.
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.Module 2/4 Rules for Living
The books of Leviticus and Numbers give details of the Israelites' trek through the wilderness, plus the rules they were given for living life – those rules covered religious, social and individual responsibility.

Deuteronomy is mainly a summary of those rules, so it may be considered as a 'Rule Book'.(Return to top)
  • Many of the rules are followed by Christians but others have been superseded or amended by the New Covenant given us by Jesus Christ. (Return to top)
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.Module 2/5 Joshua - God's Promise Kept
Joshua takes over as leader after Moses' death and prepares the people to enter the land God had promised to Abraham nearly 500 years earlier. Joshua's authority is established and accounts given of the battles fought in order to secure the land.

Joshua is tricked into promising not to attack some of the existing inhabitants, which meant that God's instruction, to kill all non-believers in the land to avoid the Israelites being 'polluted' by their heathen ways, couldn't be fulfilled.

The Israelites are ultimately successful, thereby fulfilling God's promise to Abraham that they would have a land of their own 'flowing with milk and honey' and be a numerous people - as great as the grains of sand on the seashore.

Before he dies, Joshua reminds the people of their Covenant with God and writes a new version to be housed with the original in the 'Ark of the Covenant'.
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  • In the days of limited travel, a tribe might occupy quite a small area of land compared to a whole country today, each with their own 'king' or head to govern them. Consequently, there were numerous 'kings', all of whom had to be defeated.

  • The Module concludes with a summary of all that's gone before and provides sample questions that challenge us to compare the Israelites behaviour then with our own behaviour today.
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.What Next?
By following the history of the Israelite people, the Bible's Old Testament goes on to show how God revealed himself more and more as time evolved and how humanity responded. It shows that despite the passage of some 1,250 years, people's response changed little; even today our response is much the same. Module 7 will continue this account in historical order, but we suggest you go to Module 3 to see how God took the initiative and came to sort it out. (Return to top)