Missional Implications of the Endings of Exodus and Deuteronomy
Here is another snippet from my forthcoming book:
The endings of the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy are instructive for us to this day. At the end of the book of Exodus, God’s people exist as a sacred community with God’s presence in its midst (Exod 40:34-38). Israel is truly in the world, but not of it. Israel’s role is to serve as a missional community that embodies and reflects God’s character for the sake of the nations around them. Moreover, the end of the book of Exodus presents God’s people on a journey. When moving, God’s presence serves as a vanguard leading the people into the world as a pillar of cloud by day and as fire by night. When settled, God’s glory dwells anew at the center of the community. In a sense, the function of God’s people is sacramental. With God at its center, Israel functioning fully as a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” exists as a means of blessing for all people. Hope is reborn in the world. Israel is a taste of the new humanity that God ultimately will reveal in Jesus of Nazareth.
Deuteronomy concludes with a transition from Moses to Joshua as the leader of God’s people. Yet profoundly, Moses will live on through the Torah. Moses the man dies (Deut 34:1-12). But Moses’ witness continues on through the book of the Law (Deut 28:56, 28:61, 29:20, 29:21, 29:27, 30:10, 31:24, 31:26 and 32:46). The Torah that Moses received from God and taught God’s people on the plains of Moab will abide with God’s people as an authoritative guide to the true way of life and as a warning against disobedience. We find here the beginning of a Torah piety and a mode of life rooted in Scripture. It is notable that the Prophets and Writings begin with exhortations to remain obedient to the Torah of God (Josh 1:7-8 and Ps 1:2).
Thus, God’s missional people advance the cause of God in the world by being propelled by the twin realities of God’s real presence through the Tabernacle and through God’s voice as mediated through the Mosaic revelation.
What do you think?
© 2011 Brian D. Russell