By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
Across the ocean in the Middle East sits the nation of Israel. The nation itself is approximately the size of New Jersey, yet this nation has played and will continue to play an important role in the history of the world. Throughout the Bible, the Israelites are referred to as God’s chosen people. If you are new to the faith or even if you aren’t, you might wonder why did God choose Israel to be his chosen people? I mean what is so special about Israel that makes them different from any other nation? The term itself might make it seem as if God surveyed all the nations of the earth and said, that is the one I will choose. That is not exactly how it happened but the fact that they are referred to as God’s chosen people forces you to ask the question why did God choose Israel to be his chosen people? I pray these reasons I share with you will help you understand this a little better.
1. God did not choose a nation; he chose a man.
So often when you think of Israel you think in terms of a nation of people, which is what they are now, but that is not what they always were. When you read the book of Genesis one thing you will notice is that there is no nation of Israel, that is because it did not exist. For a moment I want you to consider not a nation but a man. The beginning of God’s promise to this nation did not start when they became a nation, it started from one man, Abraham.
The Lord had said to Abram, Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“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.
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
From this promise you see that God did not choose a nation, he chose a man and built a nation from this man. The reason I point this out is because it is not as if God just randomly chose Israel, he made Israel into a great nation and God doing this was a fulfillment of a promise he made to Abraham. This doesn’t make Israel more special; it makes God more special because he keeps his promises. When you think of the nation of Israel, even the very land where Israel sits, let it be a reminder that when God says something he will do it. The Israelites were God’s chosen people because they represent God’s faithfulness to Abraham and that he keeps his word.
The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. – Genesis 13:14-15
2. God needed a group that would represent his character in the earth.
One of the reasons why God chose Israel to be his chosen people is because he needed someone to uphold his standards in the earth.
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” – Exodus 19:3-6
One of God’s purposes for Israel was that they would be a people who would obey him and keep his covenants. By doing this they would be God’s representatives in the earth. Israel would be a model of God’s way of living to the nations around them. If you look at the covenant that was made it was a conditional covenant. If they decided to forsake God’s laws and walk in disobedience, which they often did, they would forfeit many of the blessings and privileges that God offered them. However, the objective remained that God’s desire would be for this nation to be a holy nation set apart for his purpose.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock/RomoloTavani
3. God needed Christ to come through a lineage and fulfill the prophecy of Genesis.
The final point to answer the question of why did God choose Israel, and without a doubt the most important purpose for the nation of Israel, is that God was setting up the lineage for which Jesus would come through. This really is the crux of why God chose Israel to be his chosen people. The coming of Jesus fulfilled a major promise that God made to Abraham that everyone on this planet who is living, who will live, or who has ever lived can benefit from.
“…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:3
How is this even possible that a little nation not much bigger than New Jersey could bless all the peoples on earth? That reason is because from Abraham’s lineage we get to the Messiah, Jesus. It is in Jesus that this promise is fulfilled. It is because of Jesus that the offer of salvation flows to every person and all peoples on the face of the earth.
If you fast forward to the book of Revelation, there is a scene where John sees people gathered around the throne. Notice what John says:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. – Revelation 12:9
When God called Abraham in Genesis 12, he had Revelation 12 in mind. He didn’t just have one nation in mind, he had all the nations of the world in mind. He chose Abraham, built a nation out of him, which bridges the gap to Jesus. In Jesus, we see the fulfillment of this promise in Genesis, and we understand the result of this promise in Revelation. Notice that people from every nation, every tribe, every language, every people will one day gather around the throne and worship the lamb. I think it is safe to say this is an example of all the people on earth being blessed through the seed of Abraham.
From promise to promise, from covenant to covenant.
I want to take a moment just to make a parallel between the promise God made to Israel and the promise God makes to you and me as believers.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:9-10
Thankfully God’s promise did not stop with the nation of Israel. His faithfulness to keep his Word is not just true for Israel, it is true for you. If you have put your trust in Christ as savior, then you are now God’s special possession. You have been called out of darkness and God has saved you so that you could be a light to point people to Jesus. Like Israel, we were once not a people, but now we are the people of God. It is now our responsibility to uphold God’s standard in the earth. The beautiful thing is that this promise, like the one God made to Abraham, will endure forever. Let not only the nation of Israel be a reminder but let the cross of calvary be a forever reminder that God is faithful and that he keeps his word. What he has said he will do. Why did God choose Israel to be his chosen people? Ultimately the cross of calvary and Jesus dying on it is why, and it is because of that same cross, why God chose you to be his special possession.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Luke Franzen
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.