A review of the New Covenant context
We’ve covered a lot of ground so let’s review some especially important points.
- God promised Abraham his offspring would be many, his offspring would occupy all the land of Canaan forever and “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Abraham believed God and demonstrated his faith through obedience.
- The promises were reiterated to Abraham’s descendants, Isaac and Jacob. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and he fathered twelve sons who were the namesakes of twelve tribes. The twelve tribes were collectively called Israel. This was a set-apart, chosen people for God.
- When Joseph blessed his son Ephraim, he said, “his offspring shall become a multitude of nations“, meaning gentile nations. The message was that his descendants would be scattered to many nations that didn’t belong to God.
- God made a covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai and repeated it at Moab. Obedience to his law would bring blessing and disobedience would bring curses. One of the curses for disobedience was scattering them among the nations. Israel agreed to the terms multiple times.
- Israel was unified for a brief period under three kings. But disobedience to God’s law, especially idol worship, resulted in Israel being split into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom was made up of ten tribes referred to as the house of Israel (or house of Joseph, or Ephraim). The southern kingdom was made up of two tribes and was referred to as the house of Judah.
- The house of Israel (the 10 northern tribes) was taken into captivity by Assyria and ultimately scattered around the world, fulfilling Josephs words to Ephraim. They assimilated into gentile culture, lost their identity and never returned to the land God designated for them. The house of Judah (the 2 southern tribes) was also taken into captivity. But after 70 years in Babylon, some did return to Jerusalem and maintained their identity as Judah (Jews). As a result, we know Jesus was from the tribe of Judah.
Now we have context to consider the New Covenant.