From “How to become a Christian”: Chapter 9 – God’s dilemma and the plan He made to solve it
In about the year 2000 BC, God began the process of forming a unique nation called Israel into which His Son, the Second Person of The Trinity, could be born as a human being. This was not done overnight. God spent many centuries developing the nation of Israel. It began with a man called Abraham. He came from a place called Ur of the Chaldees, in what we now call Iraq. God searched for a man with the right heart attitude and He found Abraham. He saw that he was a man who was “a friend of God”. God prepared Abraham over many years and gave him a promise which is described in the book of Genesis at Chapter 12 and restated again later at various times:
1“The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)
The promises God made about making Abraham’s descendants into a great nation were eventually fulfilled, but it took a long time. Abraham had a son called Isaac and he, in turn, had a son called Jacob. God repeated to each of them the promises He had made to Abraham. Jacob had twelve sons, and due to a famine throughout all the world at that time, they went into Egypt, where one of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, had become the Prime Minister. They were all therefore preserved from famine. The whole extended family amounted to 70 people when they went into Egypt. They stayed there 430 years.
By the time they came out of Egypt those 70 decendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had grown into a nation of over two million people. It was that nation that God miraculously allowed to walk between the vertical walls of water of the divided Red Sea to escape from Egypt where they had suffered hardship under Pharaoh. The nation of Israel then spent just under forty years living in the desert wilderness before entering into what was then known as the land of Canaan. It is now the land of Israel. This was the land God gave to them to fulfil His promise. The Israelites then spent many hundreds of years living in the land of Israel preparing for the arrival of the unique person that God had promised to them called the “Messiah”.
That is the Hebrew word for the equivalent Greek word, “Christ,” which means “anointed one.” So, when we say Jesus Christ, the second word is a title rather than a name, i.e. Jesus the Christ, or Jesus the Messiah. God promised that this person, the Messiah, or the Christ, would be King of Israel. He also promised that He would rule the whole world and that through Him the whole world would be blessed. Hundreds of different prophecies are made in the Old Testament about this unique person called the Messiah. In order for these to be fulfilled many things had to take place first within the nation of Israel.