The OT Gospel: Exile Themes in Genesis

The OT Gospel: Exile Themes in Genesis

Passage: Genesis 4, Genesis 16, Genesis 21, Genesis 27, Genesis 35, Lamentations 3, Jeremiah 29
Service Type:


  • We are continuing our series on the Gospel in the Old Testament and trying to pull out the good news of God.”
  • We started with the creation stories and saw how God saves and blesses.
  • Last week, we talked about how Genesis 3 and how it highlights God’s mercy in the Fall.
    • They did not die, loin cloths, and the prophecy of Jesus.
  • We also mentioned that the story of the Fall is the story of Israel. And we’re going to dig a little deeper into that today as the whole story of Genesis is actually the story of the nation of Israel, a nation in exile.

The History of Israel

  • Israel was rescued out of Egypt and given an identity as the people of God. (Exodus 19)
  • They spent years in the wilderness, but eventually entered the promised land.
  • They were a people with a land and a calling. They were supposed to be set apart and be representatives for God, the people through whom God’s blessing would go out into all the earth.
  • Eventually, they established a kingdom. Saul, David, Solomon.
  • But because of Solomon’s waywardness, the kingdom was split into two under Rehoboam (Solomon’s son)
    • Israel in the north
    • Judah in the south
  • For the most part, the Northern kingdom was a mess of idolatry and injustice. It’s literally game of thrones over there with assassinations and everything.
    • Finally, in 722BC, Assyria conquers them and exiles the people throughout the land.
  • The southern kingdom was better. There were a few kings who walked in the ways of David, but also a few bad ones – especially toward the end.
    • They too became a mess of idolatry and injustice.
    • Then in 597BC, Babylon comes and exiles Judah to Babylon.
  • As they did not fulfill their calling, they have lost their distinctiveness, and God removed them from the land.
    • Were they the people of God anymore?
    • Did God abandon them?
    • Is this the end?
  • Eventually God brings the people back in 539BC
    • And between their return and when Jesus comes is when most of the OT was put together, compiled, and edited.


Scenes of God helping those in exile in Genesis

  • We saw it last week when we looked at Adam and Eve. They were set apart to take care of the garden of Eden, disobeyed God, and was exiled, never to return.
  • Cain – Genesis 4
    • Jealous that his brother’s offering was more acceptable than his, he kills his brother and is told by God in 4:11-12 “And now you are cursed from the ground…When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”
    • But this was too much for Cain to bear and he feared that anyone who meets him will kill him, and how does God respond:
      • 4:15-16 “’Not so! Whoever kills Cain will suffer a sevenfold vengeance.’ And the LORD put a mark on Cain, so that no one who came upon him would kill him.”
    • Despite Cain’s sin and punishment, God still protected him.
      • Pretty similar to Adam & Eve, right?
      • This story is so mysterious until you see its connection to Israel’s exile.
      • Israel messed up, but God still protected them during their exile.
    • Hagar – Genesis 16 & 21
      • Fast forward…God calls Abram/Abraham to go into a new land and promises to bless the world through his offspring. But Abraham and Sarah were old and doubted that they could have children. So, Sarah suggests that Abraham have a baby with her Egyptian slave named Hagar.
      • When Hagar conceived, she looked at Sarah with contempt and dealt “harshly” with her, enough for her to run away.
      • Pregnant and alone in the wilderness, God speaks to Hagar, tells her to return, and promises to bless Ishmael.
        • Ishmael means “God hears”
        • She named God “El-roi” which means “God who sees.”
        • The place was named “Beer-lahai-roi” which means “well of the Living One who sees me.”
      • Fast forward some more and Isaac is born. Ishmael “plays” (euphemism) with Isaac, and they are sent away in the wilderness again.
        • They ran out of water and thought they were going to die.
        • 21:17 “God heard the voice of the boy…”
        • 21:19 “Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water…”
        • 21:20 “God was with the boy…”
      • Forced on the run and exiled, God saw Hagar and heard Ishmael.
        • Certainly, they had a hand in their circumstances too
        • Yet, God still saw them, heard them, and helped them survive the wilderness.
      • Jacob – Genesis 27-35
        • Fast forward some more. Isaac has two kids: Esau and Jacob
        • Jacob is the second born, tricks Esau out of his birthright and steals his blessing by pretending to be him. Esau wants to kill him, so Jacob runs away to his uncle’s house.
        • Eventually, he has his own family (crazy story btw), he fell out of favor with his uncle and God calls him back home. The only problem is that he doesn’t know if Esau is waiting to kill him or not.
        • So, they escape his uncle’s place. Then they stop in chapter 32, and he sends presents to Esau to appease him.
          • He prayed to God: “O God of my father…who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred and I will do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown your servant…Deliver me…from the hand of my brother…for I am afraid of him.” (32:9-11)
        • Then they wrestle and when Jacob and Esau meet: “Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kiss him, and they wept.” (33:4)
        • God brought him back.
          • He was away from his family and land, but God brought him back.
        • And of course, the book of Genesis ends with a famine sending Jacob and his family to Egypt and they are saved.
          • Driven from the promised land, can they find life outside?
          • It’s interesting how leaving the promised land was what kept the Israelites alive.
          • Of course, things go sour after Joseph dies and it sets up the Exodus or return to the promised land.
        • So, we can see the meaning of these stories for a people who came out of exile. They celebrate how God protected them, sees them, hears them, and brought them back when they were removed from their home.

Exile is not the end of the story

  • Exile involves…
    • Displacement – removed from home
    • Rejection & Alienation – isolated from God and community
      • These are people you care about, who you looked up to, found meaning with, did life with
    • Loss of status – are we still the people of God?
    • Oppression – what we never asked for is forced upon us
    • In the case of Israel:
      • Punishment and Discipline as they brought it upon themselves
      • EXAMPLE: Prison – they are not allowed to be a part of society
      • EXAMPLE: NT Excommunication in 1 Corinthians 5:5 about a man who is living with his father’s wife. Paul tells them to “hand him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.”
      • EXAMPLE: Whenever we send students home, what we’re actually doing is exiling them from the community.
    • It is a horrible place to be. It seems like a death sentence before you’re dead.
  • But the good news of Genesis is that exile is not the end of the story.
    • God faithfully with us and preserves us through these times and is able to bring us back.
    • With regard to relationship with God, God brings us back into God’s family through Jesus Christ.
      • We were prodigal children.
    • Lamentations 3


  • It’s kind of hard to think about an application for today. I mean, I can’t stand up here and tell you to just “get yourself out of exile.”
  • It seems to be appropriate to end this Sunday in reflection. We are in one of two situations:
    • We’re in a state of restoration/shalom
    • We’re still feeling the consequences of our actions, still waiting for restoration – maybe we are being excluded from my family/community, from work…
  • If we’re waiting for restoration… (whether it’s our own fault or if it was forced upon us)
    • In Jeremiah 29, Jeremiah tells the exiles that their exile will last a long time. During this time, they are to build houses, plant gardens, take wives, have kids, and seek the welfare of the city.
      • In other words, be find ways to be fruitful, thrive, live, have joy, and be a blessing.
        • In order to do this, we need to accept what we’ve done and our situation.
        • We need to ask God where you are in my exile
        • We need to ask God what God might want to do in and through me during this time
        • Ask God what God is inviting me into during this time
      • If we are in a state of shalom
        • We ought to have our eyes and ears out for others who are waiting for restoration.
          • We ought to be merciful and loving to them
          • Ask God:
            • Is there someone in my life waiting to be restored? (refugees in America)
            • Is there someone who is waiting to be reconciled with God?
            • Is there someone that I can be a good friend to during this time, help them reframe it?


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