Summary: Has Israel become, in the eyes of God, a ex-people that now differs nothing from any other peoples of the earth?
Has Israel become, in the eyes of God, a ex-people that now differs nothing from any other peoples of the earth? Even an ex-wife in the natural human drama never becomes just another woman in the eyes of an ex-husband. Please understand that NO divine promise will ever fail, whether it relates to Israel or to any individual of any nation.
When the human race, tested in the days of Adam and Eve and the generations which followed, dismally failed to obey the Lord and instead lifted up its heart in revolt against Him, God stepped into a tragic situation and chose one people to whom He would peculiarly reveal Himself and who in turn would be a blessing to the world.
The Hebrews proved to be a nation of unusual religious sensitivity. Their country, Palestine, is a geographical centre. But God chose Israel, not primarily because of their worth or national or cultural or geographical characteristics, but because in His sovereign love and wisdom He desired that the nation belong peculiarly to Him (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
Why did God choose Israel? In the main, there is a threefold answer to this question:
1. To proclaim the One True and Living God and to demonstrate the importance of knowing and serving Him
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5). "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God" (Isaiah 43:10-12). Israel was a little island of monotheism in a vast sea of polytheism. The revelation of the True God was given to this people only, and they were to scrupulously maintain and give witness to this truth to all people.
2. To receive, preserve and transmit the Scriptures
"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God" (Romans 3:1, 2). These "oracles" were the Old Testament Scriptures (compare Acts 7:38; Hebrews 5:12). "Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments...Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations...(Deuteronomy 4:5, 6). The marvelous revelation of truth was given to no other people.
3. To produce the Messiah
To Abraham came the promise, "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). The first verse of our New Testament is the beginning of the fulfillment of this word. Romans 9:5, as well as 15:8, also confirms the fact that Israel was to be the vessel through whom the earth-blessing Messiah was to come.
The apostle Paul had a deep concern for Israel’s salvation (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1). Remember that the gospel is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first..." (Romans 1:16). Paul lists some of Israel’s priceless, unique blessings (Romans 9:4, 5). Let us look at them very briefly.
2. The Glory - This refers to the visible symbol of Jehovah’s presence, above the mercy seat in the Tabernacle and later over the Jewish Temple, and is sometimes called the "Shekinah" (Exodus 25:22; 40:34; Leviticus 16:2; 1 Kings 8:10).
3. The Covenants - These were solemn agreements made between God and Israel. Some were unconditional, while others were conditional.
4. The Giving of the Law - This was the Decalogue given by God through Moses at Mt. Sinai for Israel’s obedience.
5. The Service of the God - This refers to the divine instructions regarding the ritual of the Tabernacle and the Temple. Priests, Levites and common people all had their specific obligations in connection with certain sacrifices, feasts, etc.
6. The Promises - These were chiefly concerning the Messiah and their own national future. The Old Testament is filled with them. Innumerable blessings were guaranteed to Israel as long as she remained faithful to the God (Deuteronomy 28:1-14).
7. The Fathers - These were the illustrious men of faith, whose names shine so brightly in Hebrews 11 and other parts of Scripture.
8. The Messiah - This One was the climax of Israel’s blessing. Notice His twofold nature here - in His manhood He was of Israel; but as divine He was "over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." " As concerning the flesh Christ came..." (Romans 9:5). The Lord Jesus was Himself an Israelite.