This scene first introduced into the Scriptural narrative through the Adam story, would repeat itself, on the whole, with Israel. Primarily, the covenant people would repeatedly fall into idolatry. Therefore, rather than perpetually enjoying the blessings of their God (though the record suggests that there were times of great blessing), times of cursing were their regular lot. The cursing was exile, meaning they were relegated to a place outside of their God’s purposes for them. This generally meant subjection to a foreign power (whether inside or outside of their promised land, though even in the exiles, the land was not emptied), which can be regularly seen from the time of the Judges (following the death of Joshua), right on through the entirety of their history that led up to Jesus.
Their God’s cursing meant death, destruction, shame, and exile, which meant that Israel, which defined itself as a people according to their exodus, was in almost constant need of exodus. Because shame and exile were the equivalent of death, Israel was constantly in need of resurrection. They were in constant need of eternal life, which would mean rescue, deliverance, redemption, salvation, restoration, and new creation (not an endless eternity in heaven after death), all of which are well summed up in “resurrection.” Their position however, because they did not trust a God that is shown forth as having continually proved Himself to be faithful in both blessing and cursing, was that of constant perishing.
The Creator God’s intention for Israel was for it to be a light to all the world. Not only does their history suggest that did they not achieve this, but by the time of Jesus, Israel is shown to have turned almost completely inward, choosing only to be a light for itself, to what would appear to be the exclusion of the rest of the world. Clearly, this was not what the covenant God intended for His one and only son, be it Adam or Israel. Thus, taking all of this into consideration, as would Nicodemus, it could be said that the Creator God of Israel loved the world that He had created so much, that He raised up Israel, His son (after the failure of Adam), and gave him a commission and an ordination to be the representative of His love and power into the world.
This, of course, would be completely contingent on Israel believing in Him and in His covenantal promises. Had they believed, then they, and the world through them, would have enjoyed eternal life. However, they are shown to have not believed wholeheartedly in their God, so ultimately, the perishing of an almost continuous exile had been their experience. Because of that, the world did not experience the Creator God’s glory and redemption, but remained in its perished condition as well.
It has been demonstrated that both Adam and Israel were positioned as sons of God. This has been done so that it would be possible to rightly comprehend the engagement between Nicodemus and Jesus, with its rooting in Jewish hope and expectation according to the history of the world and the history of Israel. Both of those histories are related to the redemptive history that had been playing out according to the Creator God’s covenant faithfulness, and this is the framework that has been built for an understanding of Jesus and His mission.
By using the language that is to be found in John 3:16, one can not only find that Jesus understands Himself along this historical-redemptive line, but that Jesus also wants Nicodemus to understand His purposes according to the historical-redemptive pattern set forth in the history of Israel as a nation, and in that of mankind as recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures.