God promised Abraham that a great nation would come from his family (Genesis 12:2; Genesis 22:16-18). That nation is called Israel, or the Jewish people. However, their nation has hardly ever been great in the ways that people would normally recognise. It may not be especially great in its wealth or power. The area of land that God gave it is not particularly large.
The true greatness of Israel, therefore, exists only in its relationship with God. In the ancient world, every nation chose its own gods (which were all false gods). However, the real God chose Israel. He chose Israel in the same way that he chooses people from every nation to be Christians (8:23): he adopted Israel to be his son (Hosea 11:1).
As a son receives honour because of his father (compare Romans 8:17-19), so Israel shared the glory (honour and greatness) of God. His glory filled the tabernacle (tent) that stood in the middle of their camp in the desert (Exodus 40:34-35).
Godís covenant is his promises that establish a relationship between him and people. In Genesis 9:1-17, God made a covenant with Noah, which is for all the worldís people. However, his later covenants, with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), Isaac (Genesis 26:24) and Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15) were for Israelís benefit.
At the time of Moses, God gave his law to Israelís people, to show them his standards. God also provided a way by which they could worship (pray and give honour to) him at his temple (the house of God). He even made wonderful promises to them, if they would obey him (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
Next part: Holy people in Jewish history (Romans 9:5)
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© 2017, Keith Simons.