Seeing through Jesus

Hey Mike,  We know, according to scripture, God chose the Israelites as his people. Joined together under a covenant. There were several other tribes or nations on the earth and they must have had their own creation stories and modes of worship so was God not with them? It wouldn’t be Yahweh, but it would be their vision of god.

But why were the Israelites chosen for the covenant?

I see through Jesus and his lineage, the necessity to follow the Jews’ journey, so is Jesus the reason there’s a covenant with the Jews?

I guess it’s only one question, but some help or a push in a direction would be appreciated.
Love ya!

David

 

Yes - there were plenty of other people groups with plenty of spiritual world-views and Gods.  There were several creation stories - the oldest written one that I am aware of was that of the Babylonians - where creation came from the murder and mutilation of a feminine God and the scattering of her body parts to create the universe.  As gruesome as this story was, this was their creation story and informed their idea of God.

[While many of these religions have died off, some have evolved too.  Some are quite beautiful.]

The Jews had a much different creation story - instead of violence, it was quite elegant and peaceful. God spoke and there was ....  This was a revolutionary creation story in the midst of other much more violent and gruesome ones.

History/story is shaped by those who tell it - hero’s and villains.   Israel tells their story in the OT.  They tell their story through many voices, often from a place of the victim, the oppressed, and this unusual faithful God who seems to favor and side with the likes them.  This God is one who desires a relationship with them, and via the covenant, they had a basic framework of what that relationship was to look like. That being said, Israel too had dark parts of its history with its sacred violence.  They were surrounded by and in many ways shaped by the people groups around them, especially during captivity.

An example of outside influence might include Abraham - right at the beginning. I would argue that Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac was Abraham being faithful to the god he knew through the culture in which he lived - and it was YWH who stopped the murder of Isaac and provided the ram.  Almost like God was saying ‘if you are determined to sacrifice something, let me give you this sheep.’

It is important to remember that God met them where they were at in their culture, experience, and understanding of God.  Other cultures sacrificed (often other humans) to appease the gods, and YWH calls the Jews to animal sacrifice.  We can see through the progression of the OT that a few prophetic voices spoke against sacrifice asserting that God required something different which we would sum up as ‘love God and others’. Yes, there were a lot of rules on how to do just that.   Quid pro quo formed a basis of the relationship - do this and God will bless you, do that, and God will punish you.

Part of all this is that from Judaism the whole world would see and come to know God - that Israel was to be a gift to the world. They sure struggled to be that gift and were often not all that dissimilar from other groups.  From my perspective, Israel’s history with God -the successes, failures, false starts, misunderstanding, exiles, captivity’s, victories, and defeats - all formed the fertile compost for Jesus.

Jesus was born into a 2nd temple Jewish context, under the thumb of Rome and a well-established temple system.   Jesus speaks and acts in the context of the faith and history he received along with the realities of his day and his own relationship to his Abba.   The Messiah was a significant theme and hope for Israel, an often exiled and oppressed people. The Messiah would liberate them and lead them into a land of their own.  Jesus was one in a long line of folks who others thought might be the Messiah.

Jesus came teaching, healing, and challenging and subverting unholy political and religious systems. Rooted in his Jewish faith and the realities of his world Jesus turned the tables on the powers, pulling the rug out from under the religious-industrial complex and exposed its sacred violence with its bloodshed, and the oppressive power structures revealing them as the antithesis of the Kingdom of God.  He spoke in the vernacular, history, and using the stories that would have made sense to his listeners.

The covenant was a starting point with humanity through the Jews, with Jesus as the climax.  Jesus wasn’t a plan B rather the covenant was the primer for Jesus.  I believe that Jesus gives us the best picture of the character and disposition of God towards creation and reveals the heart and intention of God in the OT.

It's not so much that we need to follow the Jews' journey but having some insight into the Jewish story helps us to understand Jesus (what he said, what he did and why it mattered) as we follow him.

We all see through a glass darkly, perhaps some more darkly than others but it's my conviction that Jesus is a good glass, a good lens.   I believe God loves all of creation and I believe we are all in the process of becoming.

I hope some of this helps.

love to you,
Michael

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