The start of a special project

Among the nations of the day, God started something new. A new group of people – Israel – was to show His original intend to the rest of the world.

The Calling of Abraham

God spoke to the heart of a man from the Mesopotamian city of Ur (which was a city in present-day southern Iraq). His name was Abram, later renamed Abraham. He had to leave everything behind, his family and a flourishing city, to move to a land unknown to him, Canaan (present-day Israel). Abram took God at His word, even though at the time he couldn't see what would come of it. But God knew what He was doing.

It was not without reason that Abram had to move to this particular piece of land. If you look up a map of the ancient Middle East, you can see that this territory was at the crossroads of the then world powers of Babel and Egypt. Under [God's Covenant at the crossroads of superpowers] you can find additional information about this strategic location.

The descendants of Abraham's son Isaac (the Jewish people) were given to live on that small but important piece of land. Large parts of the Bible deal with the history of this country, the ups and downs of the people of Israel and their relations with the surrounding nations. Had God forgotten the rest of the world? Was the Creator suddenly no longer interested in the other nations who had settled the world since Babylon? That was certainly not the case. On the contrary, Gods international focus was apparent right from the start. From the very beginning of this special project, the scope is immediately widened. Genesis 12 reports the calling of Abraham. God says to him, “(…) and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Choosing Canaan as home base underlined this intention.

God's blessing for all nations would eventually be fulfilled through the coming of the Messiah, who descended from Abraham [Jesus: good news for all nations]. The Gospel writer Matthew traces this line. Genealogies might seem boring, but they are actually very interesting. There's a whole story behind it. Matthew opens his book with the genealogy and walks through history in seven-mile boots, from Abraham, through David, to Jesus:

“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:17).

It is through the great descendant of Abraham, the Son of God Himself, that the blessing is effectuated for all nations. Through Him alone all people are brought together under one head and into one community.

A type of what's to come

To understand the course of world history, it is important to see that God's covenant with literal Israel is not exclusive. This special project is part of a bigger story. What happened to this one nation and to this one piece of land is a type of what is going to happen worldwide.

The little land of Canaan points to the whole earth that belongs to God. The temple service is a foreshadowing of the heavenly temple service and a picture of God's presence in His universal community. The historic city of Jerusalem is a precursor to the heavenly Jerusalem, built by God Himself. And the people of Israel represent all people, Jew, and Gentile, who lived their life based on the promise. Note that in the lineage of the Messiah, you will find quite a number of pagan women. God has never been aiming for a pure genetic race. Yahweh, the God of Israel, deemed it very important that the stranger was included in the community (see for instance, during the Exodus from Egypt, Exodus 12:38). The Creator of heaven and earth is collecting one worldwide community throughout the ages, not two. The Jewish Messiah Jesus is the CEO of the entire club, for everyone and without any distinction based on race, language, or background.

An in-depth explanation about the role of biological Israel can be found under the [490-Israel] tile.

Archaeological traces of Israel

Abraham's great-grandchild Joseph was to occupy a very high position in Egypt. He became, after a long and eventful history, the first under the Pharaoh. When the great famine came in the ancient world (Genesis 41:53-57), Joseph's family moved to Egypt. The scarcity resulted in a reunification of the family, after more than twenty years. During that time his Egyptian sons Manasseh and Ephraim became acquainted with their Canaan family for the first time. Both men had grown up in the Egyptian court and were well educated in the hieroglyphic language. Now that they came to live with their Hebrew family, it was a logical step for them to put the language that was still foreign to them in writing. dr. Douglas Petrovich explains how Manasseh and Ephraim developed the very first alphabet in the world, using their well-known hieroglyphic script.

Is Hebrew the World's Oldest Alphabet?

Dr. Petrovich also discusses in a more general sense indications of the presence of the Jewish people in Egypt.

Is There Compelling Evidence of the Israelite Sojourn in Egypt?

The fate of Sodom and Gomorrah

The ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have become known for their depravity and the judgment that God poured out, by raining brimstone and fire from heaven (Genesis 19). Note that the Bible points out that these are never to be rebuilt again.

“As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors,” says the LORD, “So no one shall reside there, nor son of man dwell in it” (Jeremiah 50:40).

Even until today this is true. Look at the desolate place and the remnants of the brimstone.

Sulfur Balls of Sodom and Gomorrah - YouTube

Read more about it in the Bible

  • Genesis 11-12 (about the calling of Abraham)
  • Genesis 37-50 (about Joseph’s brothers)
  • Isaiah 56 : 1-8
  • Matthew 1
  • John 10 : 16
  • Acts 2. God temporarily reversed the confusion of Babylon, as a sign of what He will do in the future.
  • Acts 17 : 22-34
  • Romans 9-11: There will be one flock and one Shepherd
  • Ephesians 2: 11-22
  • Revelation 21 : 9-27