How does God work through time?
Where did Jesus come from?
Jesus of Nazareth changed everything. He was truly the fulcrum of history, especially so for the Jews, not just those living at that time in the Promised Land, but for every Jew who has ever lived. Whatever we believe about him, a study of history is going to show us that Jews in the Christian era have suffered untold misery seemingly through the actions of the relatively small group of Jews living in Jerusalem over the period of a single week at around 34 AD.
What had happened, in the context of our developing story is that our Messianic blood-line, edging its way through history via such giants as Abraham, Jacob and David, had reached its fulfilment. It had survived the Canaanites, the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. God had nurtured this precious seed, as a gardener guarding the well-being of tender young shoots. The clock ticked away as the line drew closer to the end ... Matthat ... Heli ... Mary ... before it finally stopped ... Jesus.
The people had high expectations of Jesus of Nazareth, Yeshua ben Yosef. He was the one about whom John the Baptist, his cousin, had spoken. He was the Lord, the anointed one, the Messiah. His identity was woven throughout the fabric of the Hebrew Scriptures; he was the promised one of the House of David. You could say that all of the history of Israel up to that point, even the bad stuff, was guided by heavenly strings so that the Messiah could be born into such an environment, at such a time.
God had this in mind when, 2000 years earlier, He had made His covenant with Abraham, promising the possession of the land and also of spiritual benefits to come. For all the subsequent years, God nurtured the Messianic line. If Jewish survival itself was a minor miracle, the preservation of this promised line, as listed in the genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 was a major one of the highest degree!
So we now reach the Christian age, the New Covenant as prophesised by Jeremiah; "'The time is coming', declares the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke My covenant, though I was a husband to them,' declares the LORD. 'This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the LORD. 'I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people'" (Jeremiah 31:31-33).
So how does this fit in with our understanding of God's covenants?
The New Covenant instituted by the Lord Jesus through his sacrifice at the cross, was, as we read, initially with the Jews. This makes us prick up our ears and consider how it relates to the two other covenants we have encountered in the Old Testament, the covenant with Abraham and the covenant with Moses.
More of this next week ...
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book Outcast Nation)