RCIA SUMMARY - THE STORY OF GOD'S PEOPLE
To examine the Story of God's people in salvation history as revealed in Scripture is to discover the incredible love that God has for us his children, revealed in the mercy He extends to us time and time again when we have refused the gift of his love and friendship. God made us from the very beginning to share his life and love forever. Man stubbornly refused that invitation of intimate family communion and yet God never gave up on us his rebellious children. Below is a quick tour of the history of the covenants that God made with men to establish and re-establish communion with him. This history shows the constancy of the Father's love, who would pay any price to redeem his children after their rejection of Him, even to the point of handing over his own Son to suffer torture and death on our behalf.
The theme of the covenant is a sacred thread woven throughout salvation history. From the beginning with Adam and Eve God sought to father a world wide covenant family through Adam and his descendants. When our first parents rejected God's offer of communion, God did not abandon us to the wages of sin. He worked through successive covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses and David to build his family. At each stage of salvation history God broadened the covenant in terms of both the size of his family (e.g., married couple, household, tribe, nation, kingdom) as well as the content of revelation concerning his plan for us. Much preparation of his people was necessary because God was about to show his love for us in the most incredible way imaginable - He was going to become one of us. So that we may be able to recognize and receive Him, God foreshadowed his appearance in history through signs, events and people that prefigured the new covenant reality that he came to definitively establish in his own body and blood. In the fullness of time, God entered salvation history in the form of the God-man Jesus Christ to establish the new and everlasting covenant that would forever provide the means for all men at all times to join in God's family and share in God's life forever. This brief tour of salvation history will use the lens of the covenant to focus our attention on God's steadfast love and infinite mercy for his children.
See John 3:16-17; Luke 15: 11-32
Covenant: Whereas a contract is a legal agreement between parties to exchange goods and/or services, a covenant is a sacred bond that joins the parties in intimate family communion. Think of the difference between prostitution and marriage, or slavery and sonship to illustrate the difference between contract and covenant. Legal penalties exist for breaking contracts, but the penalty and curse for breaking covenant oaths is the loss of family communion. In biblical usage a covenant is a sacred family bond. God uses covenants in salvation history to establish intimate family communion with his family, culminating in the New Covenant worldwide family which is the Catholic Church. The imagery used to express this communion is both familial (Exodus 4:22) and nuptial (Hosea 1-3). Through covenants God unites us to himself as part of his family.
Typology: A biblical type is a person, thing, or event in the Old Testament that prefigures the fulfillment of God's plan in the person of Jesus Christ. Types are like pictures that come alive in a new and exciting way when seen through the eyes of Christ's revelation. Typology is the study of these types and their fulfillment. Augustine said that "the Old Testament is the New concealed, but the New Testament is the Old revealed" (Catechizing of the Uninstructed, 4:8).
See Romans 5:14,17; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Leviticus 26: 11-12; Ezekiel. 36:27-28; Revelation. 21:2-3
God is Love
God reveals himself to us as one God in three divine persons, forming a Tri-Unity or Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit form a dynamic loving community from all eternity. The Father eternally begets and loves the Son, his Eternal Word; the Son eternally is begotten and returns the love of the Father; and the bond of Love between the Father and Son is so perfect that it becomes the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Each person of the Trinity makes of Himself a total gift to the others, forming a loving communion without end. God, who needs nothing, out of sheer goodness created us to share in the life giving love of the Trinity. Mankind is the crown of creation. God's plan has always been to give himself to us as pure gift, and so He created us in His image so that we would be able to recognize and respond to his love, and enter into the loving communion of the Trinity. From all eternity man has been called into a covenant family relationship with God. God wants to dwell in our midst and make us partakers of his own divine nature, so that we can live as part of God's family forever. The story of our salvation history begins with God's creation of the universe and of our first parents, and the covenant God established with them.
See John 4:8-9; 2 Peter: 1:3-4;
Bible Outline: Early World Creation to 2000 BC
1. Creation Genesis 1:1--2:4
2. Fall Genesis 3:1-24
3. Curse and Promise (protoevangelium) Genesis 3:8-24
4. Flood Genesis 6:1-9:17
5. People scattered at Babel Genesis 11:1-9
Covenant with Adam
God created (out of nothing) the universe and the crown of his creation, man, in 7 days. On days 1-3 days God created the structure of the universe - light and darkness, sea and sky, and land. On days 4-6 God created the inhabitants for the structure that He created - sun and moon, fish and birds, and land creatures, including man. God built a house for himself to dwell with his creation, his family, and that house is the universe around us.
See Genesis 1: 1-2, 26-28
God rested on and blessed and hallowed (i.e. made holy) the seventh day, the Sabbath. The ancient Hebrew verb for "to sign a covenant" was literally "to seventh oneself." By sanctifying the seventh day, God entered into a covenant with his creation, with his human family. God revealed to us his plan by establishing this covenant. Man is not a mere creature or servant, but a child of God created to share in God's life and love. God the Father bound himself to us on the seventh day as his family. In order to live in communion with God we need his very life within us, and so God created our first parents in a state of original holiness. Our first parents were created with sanctifying grace, the very life of God, in their souls. They were created as sons and daughters of God the Father made to share in God's rest and sanctification, all signified by the seventh day.
See Genesis 2: 1-3,
God established a covenant with our first parents, the sign of which is the Sabbath, after breathing a spiritual soul into the material bodies of Adam and Eve. God made man in his image and likeness, with intellect and free will, male and female. God both knows and loves, and with our intellect and will we can know the truth and choose to love what is good. God is Truth and Goodness itself, and so God gave us the power to recognize and freely respond to his invitation to be part of his family; but we also have the power to reject that offer. God created Adam and Eve and married them to each other, and established his covenant with them as a married couple. God is a community of life giving love (i.e., Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and as male and female in marriage we are called to give ourselves as gift to the other and to be fruitful and multiply, as such we image the life giving communion of the Trinity. The sacredness of man and woman joined unto each other with love and fidelity forever (i.e., marriage) is the first and most basic of God's revelations. Marriage is the primordial sacrament.
See Genesis 2: 7, 18, 21-25
Through the covenant, God made an oath to be our loving Father and Adam who represents all mankind and who was to be the earthly father of God's worldwide family made an oath with Eve to trust in the Father's love. Our first parents broke this oath and the covenant by sinning against God. Out of pride they desired to "go it alone" and become like gods, which resulted in disobedience to their Father's will and spiritual death. The gift of divine adoption that was bestowed upon them was lost for them and for all of us. The intimate family communion between God and mankind was shattered. Adam and Eve turned their back on God's love, and so God would let them live the consequences of their sin. Since happiness is impossible outside of God's family, like the Prodigal Son, God would let Adam and Eve learn to turn to him again through the school of suffering. God's punishments and judgements are the expressions of his fatherly love. He allows us to experience the moral consequences of our own sin, so that we might see that his law is the prescription for our spiritual fitness, and that the virtues He wants us to exercise are essential for us to be mature sons and daughters of his family.
See Genesis 3: 1-8, 16-19, 23
Even when He had given us everything, and we rejected him, God did not abandon his family. Genesis 3:15 is called the protoevangelium, or first gospel, because in it God offers us the hope of a savior through the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent. His love and mercy embraced us even after we sinned. This is a constant throughout salvation history. God loves us, we reject him, and yet He loves us still and offers us the hope of and the means to salvation. This hope was offered to our first parents, and to all of Adam's descendants. This hope again and again God offered to us through his covenants, culminating in the fulfillment of all God's covenant promises in Jesus Christ. Adam is a biblical type of Christ, in that he as the first born son of creation was to be the mediator of God's covenant blessings to all his descendants. Adam failed in this task because he did not trust in the Father's love. Jesus is the Son of God who entered history to become the first born son of the new creation. As mediator of the new and everlasting covenant, through his obedience to the Father's will He restores to the Father's love and friendship all those who become part of the new covenant family in Baptism. The Church is God's new covenant family, and Christ is the first born son of that family who restores to all those united to him the gift of divine sonship, which is the gift of the Spirit of Christ in our very souls crying "Abba, Father."
See Genesis 3:15; Romans 5:14,17; Romans 8:14-15
Covenant with Noah
After the Fall things went downhill for the children of Adam. Sin and its effects ripped apart the human family and the first murder occurred when Cain slew Abel. And although there were those who still trusted in the promise of hope that the Lord had given (Genesis 3:15) their numbers dwindled. Eventually the human family of God who sought happiness outside of his friendship became so depraved that only one righteous household remained on the earth. This was the household of Noah. Noah was descended from Adam through his righteous son Seth. The line of Seth carried the promise of God in Genesis 3:15 to restore family communion with his children. The line of Cain is the seed of the serpent from Genesis 3:15 and Cain's descendants came to dominate the earth at this time and blacken creation with their pride, violence and evil. God in his justice would tolerate this no longer and determined to blot out this evil from the face of the earth. An essential theme and lesson from salvation history is that those who refuse stubbornly God's life and love and do not repent must live with the consequences of that decision, which is death. It is a living death while still on earth, and an eternal spiritual death or separation from the source of eternal life which is God himself. This eternal decision to live outside of God's love is called Hell.
See Genesis 6: 9-13; Romans 6:23
Noah was born ten generations after Adam. Noah had three sons all of whom were married: Ham, Shem and Japheth. God saved the remnant of his covenant family by having Noah build an ark for himself and his household. God saved Noah through the waters of the flood, and after the waters had receded made a covenant with Noah and his household that He would never destroy the earth again with a flood. The sign of the covenant would be the rainbow. The first covenant was made by God with a married couple, Adam and Eve. This new covenant God made with Noah and his household. Amidst the evil brought about by descendants of Cain, God still fathered his family and even grew that family by extending his covenant love to a household, which included several married couples and their children. And so the hope of God's covenant love embracing a world wide family would be kept alive with Noah and his household. Like unto Adam and Eve God commanded Noah and his household "to be fruitful and multiply."
See Genesis 6: 14, 18-19, 22; Genesis 8: 15-17, 21; Genesis 9: 1, 8-17
In the aftermath of the flood the human race once again became one big unhappy family torn apart by sin. Noah's son Ham sinned against God and his father Noah and thus Ham's son Canaan was put under Noah's curse. Man grew in his wickedness and pride and the King Nimrod and his subjects decided to build a great tower to the heavens, not to glorify God but to glorify themselves. God remembered his covenant with man, and rather than destroying the wicked as with the flood God instead confused their speech and scattered them to the ends of the earth. Through all this, Noah's son Shem and his household remained faithful to the covenant made with the God and his line carried the promise of blessing to all men made by God in Genesis 3:15.
Bible Outline: Patriarchs 2000-1700 BC
6. God calls Abram out of Ur (modern Iraq) Genesis 12:1
7. Melchizedek blesses Abraham Genesis 14:18-20
8. Sodom and Gomorrah Genesis 18:16-19:38
9. Binding of Isaac Genesis 22
10. Covenant with Abraham
3-fold promise Genesis 12:1-9
1st covenant (land) Genesis 15:1-21
2nd covenant (royal dynasty) Genesis 17:1-11
3rd covenant (world-wide blessing) Genesis 22:1-19
11. Jacob steals blessing Genesis 27:1-46
12. Jacob wrestles with God, name change to Israel Genesis 32:22-31
13. Joseph sold into slavery Genesis 37:12-36
14. Jacob's family moves to Egypt Genesis 46
Covenant with Abrhaham
At this point in salvation history, around 2000 BC, God's family was divided and scattered by sin. In order to restore the lost family communion that he had promised to all men through Adam, the hope of which was kept alive through Shem's descendants, God called a 75 year old man Abram out of the land of Ur (modern day Iraq) to go to a land that God would show to him. Abram was a descendant of Shem. Genesis 12: 1-3 is called the acorn of salvation history because it recounts God's promises to Abram including land, that he will make of him a great nation, and that through him all the families of the earth will be blessed. It is from Abram's (soon to have his name changed by God to Abraham) line that Jesus Christ would come to establish the new covenant through which all the world (Jew and Gentile) would be restored to family communion with God.
See Genesis 12:1-3; Matthew 1:1
Abraham is not called our father in faith without good reason. He suffered much hardship and endured patiently for God to fulfill his promises to him. Abram was old and childless when God called him at 75 years of age to leave his home and people with all of his tribe and to journey to an unknown land. God gave to him the land of Canaan but then Abram awaited the birth of a son to fulfill the other promises. When Abram was 99 years of age God upgraded his promises to him to be a covenant and changed his name to Abraham (father of a multitude). At this time, the covenant oaths that God had sworn to Abraham included the land of Canaan for him and his descendant and that nations and kings would stem from him. The sign of this covenant was to be circumcision so Abraham and all the males in his tribe had to undergo circumcision. Abraham still had no son with his wife Sarah who was 90 years old.
God fulfilled his promise to Abraham when Sarah conceived a child in her old age. The child was named Isaac. Abraham's faith was tested when God commanded him to take his son Isaac to the land of Moriah to offer him up as a sacrifice. Imagine what Abraham must have thought concerning his beloved son and all of God's covenant oaths that were to be fulfilled through him. But without hesitation Abraham obeyed God and set out to offer up his only son. When they arrived at the land of Moriah, Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain on which the sacrifice would be offered. Isaac carried the wood for the fire on his back. When Isaac asked where the lamb for sacrifice was Abraham said "the Lord will provide himself the lamb." At the last moment God stayed the hand of Abraham that was poised to kill his son. Isaac here is a biblical type of Christ, the Lamb of God whom the "Lord would himself provide" to be a pure offering. Christ would carry the wood of the cross up the same mountain (Calvary in Jerusalem is a hill on the Moriah range of hills, see 2 Chronicles 3:1) and be offered as a sacrifice on the altar of the cross for our redemption. God the Father would provide his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrificial victim on that mountain to save his human family.
See Genesis 22:4-12
God rewarded Abraham's faithful obedience by blessing him and swearing by his own holy name to fulfill the covenant oaths he had made to Abraham of countless descendants and a world wide blessing. Abraham was faithful in all that God asked of him, and never seriously wavered in trusting the Father's love, even if perhaps he didn't always understand the purpose of what he had been asked to do. All God's sons and daughters undergo tests of their faith, and Abraham provides a great model for us and is truly our father in faith. With Abraham, God's covenant family had been broadened again to embrace not just a married couple, and not just a household, but to include an entire tribe (many married couples, many households). God's covenant made with Abraham and his descendants, through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed, kept alive the promise of the Father to restore all his children to family communion.
See Genesis 22:15-18
Isaac grew and had a son Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons, who all fathered large families that became the 12 tribes of Israel. They were called the tribes of Israel because God changed Jacob's name to Israel. This period of salvation history is truly fascinating and inspiring but must be passed over to get to the Passover of the Mosaic covenant. It is enough to say here that God's covenant family continued to grow and moved to Egypt when a famine overtook the land of Canaan and Jacob and the 12 tribes had to journey there for food. Once there, they were enslaved by the Pharaohs of Egypt and remained there in bondage for 400 years.
Bible Outline: Egypt and Exodus 1700-1280 BC
15. 400 years of slavery Exodus 1:1-22
16. The burning bush Exodus 3:1-6:30
17. Ten plagues Exodus 7:1-11:10
18. Exodus/First Passover (1280 BC) Exodus 12:1-14:31
19. Red Sea Exodus 13:17-15:21
20. Manna Exodus 16
21. Covenant with Moses (Mount Sinai) Exodus 19:1-31:18
22. Golden calf Exodus 32:1-35
23. Levitical priesthood Exodus 32:27-29; Numbers 3
24. Tabernacle Exodus 25-27, 36-38
Bible Outline: Desert Wanderings 1280-1240 BC
25. 12 spies sent out Numbers 13:1-33
26. Aaron's staff Numbers 17
27. Moses strikes the rock Numbers 20:1-13
28. Bronze serpent Numbers 21:4-9
29. Covenant in Moab Dueteronomy 29:1-29
30. Israel crosses the Jordan Joshua 1-4
Covenant with Moses
The story of God choosing Moses to lead the Israelites from Egypt is a famous and familiar story. The details related here will focus only on the covenant established by God with Moses and the nation of Israel.
After 400 years of slavery in Egypt the people of Israel cried out to God for deliverance and God remembered his covenant with them. Moses, an adopted prince of Egypt who had fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian master, was chosen by God to deliver his covenant people from bondage. Moses thought himself unworthy but nevertheless responded to God's call to him to deliver God's people from slavery. Pharaoh's heart was hardened against Moses' plea to free Israel, God's first-born son, and so God sent plagues upon the land of Egypt, with the 10th plague being the death of the first born son in all the land. God commanded Moses to deliver the details of the Lord's Passover to the Israelites, a sacrificial meal that would deliver the first born sons of Israel from death. The Passover would become a permanent institution and would be the sign of the covenant that God would establish with Moses and his first born nation Israel. It would also present a biblical type of the sacrifice of the Eucharist, which is the new covenant Passover. Jesus Christ is the spotless lamb whose shed blood on the beams of the cross saves us from eternal death. But just as in the old covenant the lamb had to be eaten, so in the new covenant Passover the lamb must be eaten to restore communion with the Father. And so the Eucharist is a true sacrifice that makes present (or re-presents) in an unbloody manner the once for all sacrifice on Calvary. But it is also for God's new covenant family, the Church, the communion meal where we receive under the sacramental forms of bread and wine the body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Lamb of God who died for our sins and gives himself to us as our spiritual food. Christ transformed the old covenant Passover into the new covenant Passover at the Last Supper.
See Exodus 4: 22-23; Exodus 12:1-14; John 6: 4, 53-58; John 1:29; Luke 22: 14-15, 19-20
So God passed over the first born sons of Israel, and led his children out of Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea into the wilderness. God fed the people who had no food with miraculous bread from heaven, which they called Manna. Manna is another biblical type that prefigures the Eucharist wherein Christ gives himself to his new covenant people as our miraculous food that gives life to our souls. Moses led the people to Mt. Sinai where God established a covenant with him and the nation of Israel. God wanted to make of his covenant family a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. At this time in salvation history God's covenant family had grown from a married couple to a household to a tribe and now to the 12 tribes or nation of Israel. This fulfilled God's covenant promise to Abraham that he would multiply his descendants and make out of them a mighty nation (Genesis 12:2). God delivered to Moses the law (or Torah) of the covenant that would form a divine constitution for God's people. Moses delivered God's law of the covenant to the people of Israel who swore an oath to abide by it.
See Exodus 19: 5-6; Exodus 24: 3-8
But sin had too strong a grip on the people who broke the covenant almost as soon as they swore an oath to uphold it. When Moses had gone up Mt. Sinai again to be with God, the people became impatient at his 40 day absence and fashioned for themselves a golden calf and began to worship it. This sacrilege of idolatry before the Lord kindled his anger, but Moses interceded for the people and God remembered his covenant promises to them. God's mercy in dealing with his rebellious children is evident here once again. God's covenant people had again rejected his offer of friendship and family communion for lesser goods, and again they would have to learn the hard way what life outside of God's full favor is like. So God put his people on a strict regime of rituals and sacrifices intended to break them of the idolatry they had learned after 400 years of worshipping the gods of Egypt, and of which the golden calf incident was a manifestation. So God instituted the Levitical priesthood (the Levites were the only tribe that did not worship the golden calf) to sacrifice daily and annual offerings on behalf of the people. [This sacrificial system became foundational to the worship of the chosen people and the various sacrifices (especially on Passover and the Day of Atonement) served to remind the people of their sinfulness and idolatry, God's mercy and deliverance, and served to renew the covenant bonds between the people and God. The various sacrifices, especially the Passover, serve as biblical types for the once for all sacrifice that Jesus Christ would make on our behalf.] God condemned the people to wander in the desert for 40 years because they would not trust in God and enter into the land of Canaan out of fear of its inhabitants. After 40 years of wandering the unfaithful generation died off, and yet the next generation committed idolatry on the plains of Moab. Because of this, Moses introduced the laws of the Deuteronomic covenant which made concessions to the sinfulness of the people in allowing practices that had never been permitted before like divorce and remarriage, slavery and usury (see Matthew 19:8 where Christ reminds the people that from the beginning the marriage covenant was sacred and indissoluble). To make a long story short, God remembered his covenant oaths to his chosen people and was a Father to them throughout this period despite their sinfulness, dwelling with them in the ark of the covenant in the Tabernacle, and eventually bringing them out of the desert within sight of the promised land of Canaan. Here Joshua, Moses' successor, led the people across the Jordan into Canaan and conquered the land for God's chosen people. God set the Judges over the tribes of Israel to rule them which leads us to the Kingdom period of salvation history.
See Exodus 32: 3-4, 13-19; Matthew 19:3-9
Bible Outline: Conquest and Judges 1240-1050 BC
31. Fall of Jericho Joshua 55:13-6:27
32. Covenant renewal Joshua 8:30-35
33. Southern campaign Joshua 9-10
34. Northern campaign Joshua 11
35. Tribal allotment Joshua 13-21
36. Israel asks for a king 1 Samuel 8:1-22
Bible Outline: Royal Kingdom 1050-930 BC
37. David kills Goliath 1 Samuel 17:1-31
38. Covenant with David 2 Samuel 7:1-29
39. Ark moved to Jerusalem 2 Samuel 6
40. First Temple built (961 BC) 1 Kings 5:1-8:66
Bible Outline: Divided Kingdom 930-722 BC
41. The Kingdom divides 1 Kings 12:16-20
42. Jezebel fights Israel 1 Kings 18-21; 2 Kings 9
43. Hosea marries a prostitute Hosea 1-3
Bible Outline: Exile 722-540 BC
44. Israel falls to Assyria (722 BC) 2 Kings 17:1-41
45. Foreign possession of Samaria 2 Kings 17
46. Image of the five kingdoms Daniel 2
47. Judah falls to Babylon (587 BC) 2 Kings 25:1-30
48. First Temple destroyed (587 BC) 2 Kings 25:8-17
Bible Outline: Return from Exile 538-167 BC
49. Zerubbabel rebuilds Temple Ezra 3:1-6:22
50. Ezra returns and teaches (458 BC) Ezra 7:1-8:36
51. Esther saves Israel Esther 1:1-10:3
52. Nehemiah returns, rebuilds Jerusalem walls (444 BC) Nehemiah 3:1-4:23
Bible Outline: Maccabean Revolt 167-0 BC
53. Antiochus desecrates the Temple (167 BC) 1 Maccabes 4:43
54. Purification of the Temple (Hanukkah - 164 BC) 1 Maccabes 4:36-61
Covenant with David
Under the rule of the Judges God's covenant family had become a nation settled in the land of Canaan promised to Israel through the covenant with Abraham. But rather than be ruled by God through the Judges, the people grumbled for a king to be like the other nations around them who had kings. Once again, God's family desired the lesser good of an earthly king over their ultimate good of God himself ruling over them not as an authoritarian king but as a loving Father. But God told Samuel, the righteous high priest at the time, to warn the people to make sure they know what they are asking for, and if they still want a king to tell them He will grant their request. God's chosen people desired a king, and God gave them what they wanted. God once again in his wisdom allowed his children to suffer the consequences of their actions. He does this throughout salvation history so that his children will learn that they can find no ultimate happiness outside of his love, and so that they will return to him like the prodigal son when they have learned through suffering this ultimate truth.
See 1 Samuel 8: 10-22
And so the kingdom of Israel is established fulfilling God's covenant oath to Abraham that "kings would stem from him" and his descendants. So God had Samuel anoint the first king of Israel, Saul. But Saul was not faithful to God, and God had Samuel anoint David, the son of Jesse, as the new King of Israel. David was a man after God's own heart, and David was blessed by God and the kingdom of Israel under David defeated all their enemies around them, including the conquest of Jerusalem. When God gave David rest from his enemies around him, and after David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, than David desired to build a holy dwelling place, a Temple, for God in Jerusalem. But God told his servant David that it would be his son, the son of David, who would build a Temple for God. At this point in salvation history God made a covenant with David and the kingdom of Israel. The covenant oath that God swears to David is that he will make for him and his sons a kingdom that will never end. With this covenant God's family had grown from a married couple, to a household, to a tribe, to a nation, and now to a kingdom. The difference between a nation and a kingdom is that a kingdom exercises sovereignty over other nations and states under the authority of the king. God's oath to his family now includes establishing for them a kingdom without end ruled by the son of David.
See 2 Sam. 7: 4, 8-16
God's purpose in choosing a specific people to father in time is not to exclude all the other nations from his covenant embrace, but to show his holiness and love to all the peoples of the earth through his "first born nation Israel" (Exodus 4:22) who God wanted to make a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). The covenant oaths God swore to Adam to establish a worldwide family and to Abraham to be a worldwide blessing had always included the Gentiles who would eventually become part of this worldwide family and to whom the worldwide blessing would come.
After God established the covenant with David, David fell into grievous sin. Out of carnal desire for Uriah the Hittite's wife Bathsheba, David committed adultery with her and than had her husband murdered when she became pregnant with David's child. So like Adam before him, David who was the mediator of this kingdom covenant failed in his task to be faithful to God's covenant triggering a covenant curse delivered by God to David through the prophet Nathan. David realized his sin and repented (see Psalm 51) and God forgave him, although God took his son as punishment for his sin. This episode from salvation history teaches us that although God forgives our sins when we repent, we are still accountable before God to suffer temporal punishment resulting from the damage caused to ourselves and to others by our sinfulness. So under the new covenant in Christ, we are still required to do penance and to accept our sufferings (either on earth or in Purgatory) as punishment for our sins, even though the guilt of those sins has been forgiven by God in the sacrament of reconciliation.
See 2 Samuel 12: 9-11; Psalm 51: 3-5
David repented and God gave him a son Solomon through whom God would fulfill his covenant oaths to David and Israel. Although David's life after his grievous sin involved much suffering due to the punishments that his sin triggered, Solomon his son at first ruled well and was renowned for the divine wisdom received from God (see 1 Kings 3: 11-14 ) with which he ruled Israel and the nations under Israel. Solomon built a Temple for God in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah (see Genesis 22:2). Solomon ruled wisely and the other surrounding nations came to here the wisdom of God dispensed through Solomon, the son of David.
At this point God's covenant family reached the fullest earthly realization of the promises that God had made to Abraham, Moses and David. The kingdom of Israel ruled by the Son of David was renonwned throughout the world and was firmly established in the promised land of Canaan. God dwelt with his people in the earthly Temple of Jerusalem and God used his first born son, Israel, to share God's wisdom and goodness with the other (i.e. gentile) nations of the world.
But Solomon became corrupted by his 700 foreign wives (treaties with other kingdoms and nations were ratified by the king taking a women from the foreign land in marriage) and began to worship their gods. He became a tyrant and exploited the people just as God warned that he would do (see 1 Samuel 8: 10-22). Solomon's idolatrous sin precipitated the division of the kingdom of Israel after only 120 years in 930 BC. The 10 northern tribes split off and formed the northern kingdom of Israel. The tribes of Benjamin and Judah formed the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom continued to practice idolatry despite the repeated warnings of the prophets (e.g. Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, Amos) that God sent to them. In 722 BC God allowed a gentile nation to execute divine judgement on the northern kingdom which was completely destroyed by Assyria (hence we hear of the 10 lost tribes of Israel). The southern kingdom did not last much longer as reform under several righteous kings gave way to increasing idolatry culminating in King Manasseh of the line of David sacrificing thousands of children to the pagan god Molech outside Jerusalem. In 600 BC the gentile kingdom of Babylon began to oppress Judah resulting in the eventual destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BC and the exile of the people of the southern kingdom in Babylon. The temple was destroyed, the sacrifices stopped, and the covenant family of God seemed to be gone forever at this stage of salvation history. But God in his mercy remembered his promises to his covenant family and once again did not abandon them. He sent the people in exile prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel to preach the message of repentance and the hope of restoration to God's chosen people. Cyrus, the Persian king who had conquered Babylon eventually allowed the people in exile to return after 70 years to Jerusalem and to rebuild the Temple.
At this point of salvation history, the people of God had lost their earthly kingdom and all political sovereignty and military power. Having lost all the blessings and promises of the covenant, the people began to realize the consequences of their sinfulness. They began to return to the Lord and worship God according to the law of the covenant. Thus, for the 400 years before the birth of Christ the people began to realize their need for God the Father and his friendship, and so tried to keep the law the best they could, and awaited the day when God would restore the Davidic Kingdom that God had promised to establish forever through the Son of David. And yet God through his prophets during this period foreshadowed the new Son of David that was about to enter history, as well as the new covenant that he was to establish that would fully realize the promises of the previous covenants.
See Amos 9:11-12; Joel 3:1; Ezekiel 36: 27-28; Daniel 7: 13-14; Jeremiah.31:31-34; Isaiah 53:2-9 (many, many more OT prophecies speak of the mission of the new King of Israel, the son of David, his new covenant, and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ)
Bible Outline: Messianic Fulfillment 0-33 AD
55. Annunciation Luke 1:26-38
56. Baptism of Jesus Luke 3:21-22
57. Sermon on the Mount Luke 6:20-49
58. Wedding at Cana John 2:1-12
59. Keys to Peter Matthew 16:13-20
60. Last Supper Luke 22: 1-38
61. Passion (33 AD) Luke 22-23
62. Jesus gives his mother to the Church John 19:25-27
63. Resurrection (33 AD) Luke 24: 1-12
64. Ascension Luke 24: 44-53
Bible Outline: Church 33 AD - ?
65. Witness in Jerusalem (33-35 AD): Acts 1:1-8:4
Pentecost (33 AD) Acts 2:1-13
Choosing of the Seven (Diaconate) Acts 6:1-7
Stephen martyred before Choosing of the Seven Acts 6:8-7:60
66. Witness in Judea and Samaria (35-45 AD): Acts 8:5-13:1
Saul's conversion (33/34 AD) Acts 9:1-30
Cornelius's vision Acts 10
Peter's arrest and deliverance Acts 12
67. Witness to the ends of the earth (45-62 AD): Acts 13:1-28:31
Paul's three missionary journeys (45-58 AD)
1st Journey Acts 13:1-14:28
2nd Journey Acts 15:36-18:22
3rd Journey Acts 18:23-21:16
Council of Jerusalem (49 AD) Acts 15
John's Apocalypse (68 AD) Revelation
68. Destruction of Jerusalem Temple (70 AD)
New Covenant in Christ made with God's worldwide family, the Catholic Church
From the very beginning God sought to dwell amidst his people and God promised through Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14) that a virgin would bear a child and name him Emmanuel, which means God with us. And so in the fullness of time, after God's gradual preparation of a covenant people to receive him, God sent Jesus Christ into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, to establish the new and everlasting covenant in his body and blood for the salvation of all men. With Christ the covenant embrace of God's family is truly universal, or catholic. Jesus is the new Adam through whom God fathers his worldwide family. Jesus is the seed of Abraham providing a worldwide blessing to all the nations. Jesus is the new Moses providing a new Exodus from slavery to sin, as well as the new Passover sacrifice (i.e., the Eucharist) that saves God's people from eternal death and establishes communion with the Father and each other through a family meal. And Jesus is the son of David, who came to announce that the kingdom of God is at hand, and to invite all men, Jews and Gentiles, into that restored spiritual kingdom of Israel which is his Church. Christ died and rose so that through him we may once again become adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father through the Holy Spirit who we receive in Baptism, and who makes us cry out "Abba, Father" (Romans 8:14-15). Through the Holy Spirit we are made partakers of God's divine nature, and are empowered to live out the higher law of the New Covenant, the law of self-giving love that Jesus showed us how to live on the cross. The sacraments of the New Covenant bind us to God and enable us to live out that self-donating love that constitutes the inner life of the Trinity. Thus we can truly be part of God's family and as a kingdom of priests be a channel of God's mercy and grace to all men.
Through Jesus Christ God the Father fulfills all the covenant oaths that he made to his earthly family, and Christ is the realization of all the biblical types and prophecies that pointed to his coming. The remainder of this section will examine more closely just a few of the many ways in which Christ and his Church provides that fulfillment.
The gospel of Matthew gospel begins "Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham" (Matthew. 1:1). Matthew 1:1 is not only a summary of salvation history, but also a summary of how the Catholic Church came to be, through her founder and bridegroom, Jesus Christ. As the "son of Abraham," Jesus is the "universal" or Catholic blessing promised by the Father (Genesis 22:9-18) to all the nations. It is through the Son's death and resurrection that all the "nations" or Gentiles are able to become adopted sons and daughters in the family of God (Romans 8:14-17). Since Adam's Fall, God's plan has been to save and restore his worldwide family through Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15) so that all may share in his love and friendship.
See Genesis 22:15-18; Romans 8:14-15;
As the "son of David," Jesus is the Messiah-King of the house of David and Israel. It is through the Church, the restored house of David (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:15-18), that men and women are to become disciples and thereby sons and daughters of God (Matthew 16:13-20; 28:18-20). God said He founded His "Church," not "churches" (Matthew 16:18-19) on Peter the "Rock," to whom He gave special powers as the earthly head of His restored Davidic kingdom. The Bible refers to the Church as Christ's bride and Christ, as a faithful Groom, is the husband of only one bride or Church, for whom He gave His life (Ephesians 5:21-33). St. Paul affirms elsewhere that Christ's Church has "one faith" and "one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5), providing further biblical evidence that Our Lord founded one clearly recognizable Church, not many with conflicting doctrines.
See Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:5
In the first verse of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus is described as the son of David who, in turn, is the son of Abraham. Jesus is of the house of Judah, and He is also from Bethlehem, fulfilling the words of Micah 5:2 that such a one would rule Israel. Gabriel reveals to our Blessed Mother that her divine son Jesus would reestablish David's throne (Luke 1:31-33) and Zechariah praises God for sending Jesus, whom he describes as a horn of salvation in the house of David (Luke 1:69) and the fulfillment of "His holy covenant" made with Abraham (Luke 1:72-73). Simeon recognizes the infant Jesus as the light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of God's people, Israel (Luke 2:29-32).
See Micah 5:1; Luke 1:31-33; Luke 2:29-32
Jesus fulfills the sacrifice prefigured on Mount Moriah by Isaac when He carried the wood of the cross up the hill of Calvary and was sacrificed for the redemption of all men. He also is the realization of what the old covenant Passover sacrifice pointed to since He is the spotless lamb whose shed blood saves men from certain death. Moreover, communion is established with God and with one another through this new covenant Passover (i.e., Eucharist) by receiving the body and blood of Christ as our spiritual food. Christ pre-presented that once for all sacrifice at the Last Supper where He instituted the Eucharist and ordained his apostles to "do this in memory of me." That command is fulfilled by the new covenant priests and their successors during the celebration of the Eucharistic that is offered till this day in the Catholic Church.
See John 1:29; John 6: 4, 53-58; Luke 22: 14-15, 19-20
After His resurrection and just prior to His Ascension, Christ's disciples asked when He would restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6-9), whereupon Jesus makes mention again of their ministry extending to all the nations on earth.
Jesus established his visible kingdom, his Church, through the apostles and their successors the bishops. Just as every covenant family in the old covenant had a visible structure (married couple, household, tribe, nation, kingdom), so God's new covenant people would have a visible structure or heirarchy. Christ founded this hierarchy when he chose his 12 apostles and set up one of them, to have primacy over the others. In the Davidic kingdom, the king had all authority but set up his ministers to help him, including a prime minister who held the keys of the king which was a symbol of the authority of the king. This was more than just an appointment, but was an office that if it fell vacant needed a successor. Christ established Peter as his prime minister of the new kingdom. He changed his name to Rock (i.e., Kephas in Aramaic, Petros in Greek, Peter in English) and told Peter that upon him He would build his Church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. He also gave him the keys of his kingdom so that Peter could exercise Christ's authority on earth over his Church. So Christ as the son of David through his Church the new kingdom of Israel fulfilled God's covenant promise to David that his son would rule over his kingdom forever.
See Matthew 16:17-19; Isaiah 22:15-22
After his ascension into Heaven, Christ's Church on earth continued his ministry and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out (Joel 3:1) on the Church and this divine mission to spread the good news of salvation and to provide the means of communion with the Father began in earnest. Throughout the Book of Acts the apostles and their successors witnessed to the truth of Jesus Christ and acted in his authority and with his power. Peter first exercised his primacy by initiating the process to select a successor for Judas, confirming that there was an apostolic office and apostolic succession. He also gave the first sermon at Pentecost, healed the sick, executed divine judgement on sinful Church members, and even raised a girl from the dead. He received the revelation from God that the gentiles were to be admitted to the Church and at the council of Jersualem (Acts 15) silenced all debate on this issue when he offered his judgement on this matter.
See Acts 1: 15, 20-26; Acts 10: 34-35, 44-48; Acts 15: 6-12
There was no dispute in the early Church about Peter's authority. It was affirmed by extra-biblical sources like Clement of Rome, the fourth pope, and Bishop Ignatius of Antioch, both around the turn of the second century. Later Church observers like Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons (140 A.D. to 202 A.D) also affirmed the pope's primacy. They understood that Jesus founded the Church on Peter, thereby restoring the house of David.
Christ said He would be with His disciples until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), and He continues to build His Church (Matthew 16:18) through all kinds of trials, internal and external. In the tradition of St. Peter, the first pope, we should confidently share Christ's salvific plan with everyone we encounter: "Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).
In conclusion, the story of salvation is a family history. It is the story of our Father's constant love for his often prodigal children and his infinite mercy that spared us time after time when we rejected him who is the source of all life and love. Throughout history God desired to dwell with us and to make us part of his family. After long preparation, He entered the world himself, suffered and died, so that we his children could find rest in him and communion with him forever. What is it that constitutes a family? Flesh and blood ties and a shared name. God has given us his name at baptism, and we become his flesh and blood through the Eucharist. All are truly blessed who become members of the Father's family through the grace bestowed upon us in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit through the Catholic Church.
See Luke 22: 14-15, 19-20; Matthew 28: 18-20
Sources and references:
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From Scott Hahn
A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God's Covenant Love in Scripture
From Scott Hahn and Jeff Cavins Our Father's Plan DVD
Catholics United for the Faith Faith Facts tract: Rock Solid: The Salvation History of the Catholic Church
From Scott Hahn Salvation History CD set
From Jeff Cavins, Tim Gray, and Sarah Christmyer Bible Timeline Seminar Workbook