The Old Testament is one long journey; it’s the comings and the goings of God’s people. Trapped and enslaved in Egypt. Eventual freedom, which leads to a long and difficult journey — difficult enough that at times life back in Egypt seems preferable. Eventual arrival in the land of promise, and the challenges that go with making it home. Again, plenty of “ups” and even more “downs.” And then a really big “down” when everything falls apart and the people are exiled to Babylon. Eventually that, too, ends, and the people have to find their way home again, and rebuild. But, as they say, you can’t go home again — and things back in the land of promise feel as though the promise has yet to be fulfilled.
The story of the OT is the story of different places on the journey — and sometimes those places seem to come back around again and again. And all through it is a longing for the fullness of life, faith made sight, the promise completed. All of that is seen, but never completed. Like a destination one never lose sight of, the OT keeps pointing forward to a place one where one never completely arrives.
But the OT isn’t just about our journey — it is also about Who is with us on this journey. For the author of the story, and the journey, is God. Through all seasons, He is there. At times He is silent; at other moments His message is clear. At times, He is front and center. At others, He is back stage, hidden from sight. But always, always, God is the One behind the story — its beginning and its end. And for those of us who have come to believe that Jesus is that end, we also come to understand that the journeys of this world will never be complete — until he returns. But we also learn that he is with us. That the God of the OT shows up in the New Testament — and continues to show up in whatever testament we are now in, through his Spirit who guides and provides for us.
Which tells me: wherever you find yourself on the journey, God is there. Lost and alone in your own personal Egypt. Walking away from Egypt, but not sure where the walk through the wilderness will take you. Or maybe you feel safe and secure in the “land” God has provided, where things feel Up — yet knowing that a Down may be just around the corner. Or maybe you know right where you are, and God is there, but the Down is also there — and you’re in the middle of it. Or perhaps you feel exiled right now — or maybe you’re still rebuilding after a difficult period of exile.
No matter where you are, the message of the Bible is that God is behind us, with us, and before us. But the Bible is also clear that even with God at our side, and on our side, the path can be full of potholes, detours, and roadblocks. So, in the midst of the journey, there is still a longing. A longing for things to really be made right. For things to truly be restored. For all things to completely be made whole. The promise of scripture – both Old & New — is that God is here. He is faithful. And will one day truly make for us a home — a New Heaven & a New Earth, where God will dwell with His people. Where He will wipe every tear from our eyes — where there will be no more crying, no more mourning, no more pain, no more death. For He will make all things new.
And that, my friends, is where our journey will take us. That is our journey’s ultimate end.