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© Rosemary Bardsley 2023

The previous study focused on God’s goodness in the covenants, which included covenants with the ancestors and the people of Israel. We now look at how God’s goodness was revealed and demonstrated for Israel and the surrounding nations to see, and recorded for all subsequent generations to see and to understand. Note that the history of Israel begins with the call of Abraham in Genesis 12 and continues through all the books recording that history, up to Esther. It is reflected on in some of the Psalms. It is a persistently in focus in most of the written prophets – Isaiah to Malachi, who remind the people of their God and his historic interventions on their behalf (including the covenants), and warn them of the judgement that must fall on their on-going sin and rebellion.



Israel’s history is filled with reports of God’s miraculous intervention on behalf of the people he had chosen to be the ancestors of his Messiah and the recorders of his self-revelation. Some of those interventions are noted below.

A.1 Abraham’s miraculous son
God’s covenant with Abraham included the promise that Abraham would have countless descendants, but Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was past having children. You can read about the miraculous conception and birth of Isaac in these passages: Genesis 18:1 – 15; 21:1 – 7; Romans 4:16 – 21; Hebrews 11:11, 12.

A.2 The preservation of Abraham’s line through Joseph’s suffering
The story of Jacob’s son, Joseph, is recorded in Genesis 37 and 39 – 50. The first part of Joseph’s life was one bad thing after another. The significant people in his life, including Joseph himself, all sinned against him. But the end result of all of this was that Joseph was in Egypt at the time of a widespread famine. Through God’s sovereign power, Joseph was able to save not only Egypt, but also his extended family, the descendants of Abraham, through whom the promised Saviour of the world was to be born. And because of that, we also are saved. God’s good hand on Joseph, and the good he accomplished because of Joseph’s suffering, is stated here: Genesis 45:4 – 9; 50:18 – 20.

A.3 The exodus
As God had told Abraham in advance (Genesis 15:12 – 16) his descendants were in Egypt for four hundred years. Exodus 1 – 14 reports various miraculous events leading up to and including their deliverance.

Bible study: what evidence of God’s goodness and miraculous power is seen in these verses?
2:1 – 10, 23 – 25

3:2 – 10

4:1 – 9

7:14 – 10:29

14:1 – 31

A.4 God’s provision between Egypt and the Promised Land
The Israelites, doubting the goodness of God despite the above miraculous deliverance, persistently grumbled and complained. But such is the goodness of God that he continued to miraculously provide for their physical needs for forty years, despite their unbelief. You can read about this in these verses: Exodus 15:22 – 27; 16:1 – 34, (+ Joshua 5:12); Exodus 17:1 – 7; Deuteronomy 8:4; 29:5.

A.5 In the promised land
Joshua reports the miraculous crossing of the flooded Jordan River (Ch 3 & 4), the fall of Jericho (Ch 5 & 6), and the defeat of various Canaanite cities and kings (Ch 8, 10 – 12), in all of which God worked on behalf of Israel. Judges reports a number of God’s interventions through judges (leaders) he had raised up to deliver the people from various enemies – including the well-known heroes Gideon (Ch 6 - 8), and Samson (Ch 13 – 16).

1 & 2 Samuel report various miraculous interventions, particularly in the life of David. 1 & 2 Kings report miracles worked by God on behalf of and through Elijah and Elisha, as well as miracles of preservation and protection on behalf of the kings of the southern kingdom (Judah). Of particular note are (1) Elijah’s victory over the priests of Baal on Mt Carmel (1Kings 18); and (2) the deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib’s attack (2Kings 18:17 – 19:37).

Read these verses. Why did God work great miracles on behalf of Israel?
Deuteronomy 4:32 – 39


Deuteronomy 8:1 – 20



In the previous study we looked at the various covenants in which God committed himself to certain promises. In the Sinai (Mosaic) Covenant those promises were conditional on Israel remaining faithful to the covenant. This covenant included not only the physical blessings that would result from faithfulness/obedience, but also the physical ‘curses’ that would result from unfaithfulness/disobedience. The people committed themselves to obey the covenant laws.

B.1 Bible study: What did the people commit to?
Exodus 19:8

Exodus 24:6, 7

Joshua 24:14 – 27

The most important covenant obligation was to worship only God: to have no other gods but him, to reject all forms and expressions of idolatry. Their survival as a nation was dependent on their faithfulness to God; idolatry would result in God’s removal of his blessings, and the imposition of his judgement. Repeatedly the Israelites were warned against idolatry, but repeatedly those warnings fell on deaf ears.

B.2 Bible study: What warnings are given against idolatry?
Exodus 34:10 – 17

Deuteronomy 4:15 – 20, 23 – 28

Deuteronomy 7:3 – 6, 25, 26

Deuteronomy 12:2,3,29 – 31

Deuteronomy 13:1 – 18

Deuteronomy 28:15 – 20

Deuteronomy 29:16 – 18

Deuteronomy 30:11 – 26

2Chronicles 7:17 – 22

B.3 Bible study: what did God know?
Deuteronomy 31:16 – 18


B.4 The evidence of on-going idolatry in the history of Israel
At no time in its history was Israel a godly nation. As a physical, political entity, they were God’s chosen nation. They were God’s people in that sense, formed by him and for his purpose. But as individuals there was always only a handful who believed in him, who were his in a spiritual sense. Although they had, as a nation, committed themselves to obey the commands/obligations of the Sinai covenant, as a nation they failed miserably and repeatedly. Their whole history is a long, sad saga of idolatry. [See this study for detailed evidence.]

Bible study: What evidence of idolatry is reported in these verses?
Exodus 32:1 – 8

Joshua 24:14 – 15

Judges 2:10 – 13

1Samuel 8:7,8

In the northern kingdom of Israel:
1Kings 12:28 – 33; 13:33, 34

1Kings 16:30 – 33

2Kings 17:7 – 23

Hosea 8:4 – 6

In the southern kingdom, Judah:
2Chronicles 24:18

2Chronicles 25:14, 15

2Chronicles 33:22

Isaiah 2:8

Jeremiah 2:9 – 13

These verses focus on the sin of idolatry – of worshipping other ‘gods’. Out of this one sin of rejection of God all other sins arise. Those other sins, in particular sins of disrespect of the human and social injustice, are all equally evident in Israel’s history.

B.5 God’s faithfulness despite Israel’s unfaithfulness
It is only because of the goodness of God that any of Israel survived. Again and again they broke the covenant, despite God’s clear warnings of what would result if they did. The bottom line is that the nation did not believe God. Apart from a small minority, they did not have faith. Even during the reign of David, a godly king, the nation did not keep the covenant. He wrote ‘Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed’ (Psalm 119:136). God, however, was faithful to his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to his covenant with David, and because of those covenants, even while applying the penalties incurred by disobedience to the Sinai covenant, he kept a remnant of Israel safe. In doing so, God, our good God, preserved the lines of Abraham and David out of whom the promised Redeemer, the promised King, would come – through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed, and whose kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom.

Bible study: what do these verses say about God’s faithfulness to his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
Exodus 2:24

Exodus 33:1 – 3

Leviticus 26:40 – 45

Deuteronomy 9:4 - 6

2Kings 13:23

Amos 9:8

What do these verses say about God’s faithfulness to his covenant with David?
1Kings 15:3,4

2Kings 8:19

2Kings 19:34

2Kings 20:6

Amos 9:11

Because the nation repeatedly broke the Sinai covenant, God could have justly utterly destroyed them. But God, in his goodness, in his faithfulness to his covenants with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David, and in faithfulness to his original promise in Genesis 3, and to his eternal purpose in place before time began, while applying the just penalty defined by the Sinai covenant, preserved a remnant of the nation – a remnant of the tribe of Judah. The nation was invaded and conquered by Babylon, the instrument of God’s judgement, who took large numbers of the people into exile in Babylon. After seventy years God raised up Cyrus the Persian to conquer Babylon and to permit the Israelites to return and rebuild Jerusalem. You can read about this in Isaiah 45:1 – 6, and Ezra 1 & 2. For details about how God worked on their behalf, enabling them to rebuild the city, the walls and the temple, read Ezra 3 – 10, and Nehemiah. A minimal temple. A seriously reduced people. But enough for God’s eternal purpose.

Between then and the birth of Christ, God, in faithfulness to his covenants and his promises given through the prophets, moved nations and their rulers so that, when the time had fully come for the incarnation of the Son of God, several factors were in place:

Descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and of David, were living in the land God promised them: so that Jesus, descendant of Abraham, descendant of David, was born in Bethlehem, spent time in Egypt and lived in Nazareth, as the Scripture had predicted.

The land was ruled by the Romans, whose method of execution was crucifixion, so that Jesus died on a cross as the Scripture had predicted.

There was, in northern Africa, western Asia and southern Europe, a common international language and a common culture, resulting from the military victories of Alexander the Great, so that the blessedness predicted by the Scriptures, through this one descendant of Abraham, would begin to reach the nations.

In all of this, and more, we see the goodness of God in the history of Israel.