23. What are some of the ramifications of God’s choosing Israel to be His special people?
Certainly, the Bible does teach that God chose Israel from among the families of the earth. And in doing so, it brings to the surface several important truths. However, something needs to be kept in the forefront of our minds as I answer this question and it’s this; in God’s choosing Israel, He also had the Gentile nations in His mind. If this isn’t remembered, it’s possible that some less than Godly thoughts might creep into one’s mind and cause them to miss a lot of the blessings that potentially could be theirs. With this in mind, what are some of the ramifications that the Bible speaks of?
ISRAEL IS UNIQUELY KNOWN BY GOD
Amos 3:2 – “You only have I chosen (known) among all the families of the earth;
The Hebrew word “chosen” is Yada and it means “to know.” It doesn’t carry with it the idea that God doesn’t know about the existence of the other nations. We need to remember that God is all knowing. He knows all of them and all about them. This has reference to the fact that God has entered into a covenantal relationship with Israel. It speaks of a very intimate relationship that God has with them. The same word is used in Gen. 4:1 referring to Adam having relations with his wife that produced a child. Obviously the word rings forth with intimacy. What a blessed and unique privilege this relationship is, that God has with Israel.
Similar language is also used for those who are saved.
John 10:27-28 – “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.
All true believers are said to be known by Jesus the Messiah. Paul mentions the fact that those who are born again are known by God.
Gal. 4:9 – But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God,…
What a blessed relationship this is for one who is a believer. On the other hand, to not be known by Christ is to be lost. This is most serious and carries with it eternal consequences. Listen to what our Savior says to those who think they have a relationship with Him, but in reality are not known by Him.
Matt. 7:21-23 – Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Just as God has a very special relationship with believers as individuals, He has a very special relationship with Israel as a nation. This is not to imply that Israel as a nation is saved. But, rather, it points to the fact that Israel is especially privileged in her position with God. Of all the families of the earth, God only knows Israel in this intimate and unique way. This was God’s doing. Israel really had nothing to do with it. This privilege also brings with it a great responsibility. Whenever Israel disobeys God, He will chasten them, but He will not break off His special relationship with them. See. Psalm 89:30-36
YOUR ATTITUDE AND ACTIONS TOWARD ISRAEL HAVE A DIRECT BEARING UPON GOD’S BLESSING YOU
Gen. 12:3 – And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Ps. 122:6 – Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Ps. 137:6 – May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.
These are just a sampling of verses which describe the relationship between being blessed by God and having a Biblical viewpoint of God’s chosen people. The Bible clearly spells out that there are several ways for believers to experience the blessings of God. Correctly viewing Israel is simply one among many. This certainly shows the uniqueness of Israel since there is currently no other nation, nor has there ever been one where such a promise has been made. Having a right attitude towards Israel does not mean that everything Israel does is right, nor that we must agree with everything they do. We must remember that the vast majority of the Jewish people who make up Israel are unregenerate. But, what it does mean is this, having anti-semitic feelings about Israel is clearly wrong and anyone who does have them will forfeit blessing from God. Is that really true? Can that be demonstrated from Scripture? Yes it can. Let’s take a look at some examples of those who were cursed by God for their sinful ways towards Israel and some who were blessed by God.
Those cursed by God
Haman – Esth. 7:7-10 – .And the king arose in his anger from drinking wine and went into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm had been determined against him by the king. Now when the king returned from the palace garden into the place where they were drinking wine, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, “Will he even assault the queen with me in the house?” As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were before the king said, “Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman’s house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king!” And the king said, “Hang him on it.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.
Sidon – Ezek. 28:20-24 – And the word of the Lord came to me saying,”Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, prophesy against her, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, And I shall be glorified in your midst. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I Execute judgments in her, And I shall manifest My holiness in her. “For I shall send pestilence to her And blood to her streets, And the wounded will fall in her midst By the sword upon her on every side; Then they will know that I am the Lord. “And there will be no more for the house of Israel a prickling brier or a painful thorn from any round about them who scorned them; then they will know that I am the Lord God.”
Mt. Seir- Ezek. 35:1-7 – Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, set your face against Mount Seir, and prophesy against it, and say to it, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, Mount Seir, And I will stretch out My hand against you, And I will make you a desolation and a waste. “I will lay waste your cities, And you will become a desolation. Then you will know that I am the Lord. “Because you have had everlasting enmity and have delivered the sons of Israel to the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, at the time of the punishment of the end, therefore, as I live, “declares the Lord God,” I will give you over to bloodshed, and bloodshed will pursue you; since you have not hated bloodshed, therefore bloodshed will pursue you. “And I will make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation, and I will cut off from it the one who passes through and returns.
Tyre – Ezek. 26:2-4
Amalek – I Sam. 15:1-8
Those blessed by God:
Rahab – Heb. 11:31 – By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.
Ruth – The entire book illustrates God’s blessings on one who showed favor to His chosen people.
USA – We are one of the only nations left who has a favorable view towards the nation of Israel. I really believe that we as a nation have been blessed because of that. What’s true for a nation can be true for you as an individual. Pray and give so they can be reached.
ISRAEL IS CALLED GOD’S FIRSTBORN
Ex. 4:22 – “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord,” Israel is My son, My firstborn.
This is a very interesting term. Just what does it mean and how is it that Israel is God’s firstborn? It doesn’t have reference to a chronological order of time. Israel was not the first nation created by God. There were dozens of other nations already in existence before Israel came to be. Where does the significance in this title lie? It meant something special to Pharaoh to hear this title. To the Egyptians, the firstborn, (especially a son) was very special, almost to the point of being sacred. For him to hear that the entire nation was a “son” of a deity must have stunned Pharaoh. He actually viewed himself in this manner.
If we turn to the New Testament, we see that this word is used for the Messiah Jesus. As we study some verses we will clearly see what the word “firstborn” means.
Col. 1:15,18 – And He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.
These two verses speak of Jesus being the firstborn of creation and the firstborn from the dead. The Messiah Jesus was neither the first creation of God, nor was He the first to be raised from the dead. There were those who were raised from the dead in the Old Testament and Jesus raised people from the dead during His earthly ministry. However, when you compare His resurrection with all of the others, you see a difference. His was special and unique. If you read I Cor. 15, you discover how important Jesus’ resurrection was in the entire plan of God. Without it, we who claim to be saved would all still be in our sin. Those who have already died would have no hope of being raised in the future. The resurrection of the Messiah Jesus is so important that it must be believed in, in order for someone to be saved, Rom. 10:9-10. The same stands true for creation. Jesus was not the first creation of God as the cults teach. However, He is supreme over all of creation. That’s what the term firstborn has behind it. That is the true meaning of these verses in Colossians. Taking all of this together, the word “firstborn” means, first in rank, special, unique, supreme. Applying this to Israel as it is used back in Exodus, it means that Israel, in God’s plan and purpose, has been put in a position of being special, unique, first in rank and supreme.
How is this so? How has this been manifested? God revealed Himself to Israel through the prophets as He did to no other people. Why did He do that? This was His way of making Himself known. Israel in turn was to take this knowledge of God and spread it to the other nations. They haven’t been as obedient with this as they will in the future. That day is yet to come. That’s just one way that Israel, being the firstborn, has manifested itself. Some might ask, “Is this fair of God to do this for Israel?” We know the answer to that. Israel didn’t ask for it, nor did they deserve it. But, can’t God do as He pleases. Being God’s firstborn, Israel has some tremendous privileges. But, it has also put them in a position of being very responsible and accountable.
ISRAEL IS ESPECIALLY DEAR TO GOD
Zech. 2:8 – For thus says the Lord of hosts, After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.
How is Israel’s being special to God seen in this verse? It is seen by the fact that here is a solemn warning and promise, pronounced by God, that says, He will punish those who oppress Israel. To touch Israel is to poke one’s finger in God’s eye. This of course is an anthro-pomorhism. It is speaking as though God has bodily parts. The reference is to the pupil, the most tender and most sensitive part of the eye. The pupil is the most tender piece of the most tender part of the entire body — the eye. It’s been said that one can better tolerate blows to the back, than a touch on the eye. This word picture helps us understand the tender affection God has for His chosen people. These words express how acutely sensitive the Lord is concerning their mistreatment. The word “touch” means to come in contact with something to harm it. It’s not when somebody accidentally brushes up against something. There is a purposeful desire to harm that which is being touched by the one doing the touching. The same tender concern of the Lord for His people is found in other parts of the Bible. Moses in summing up their high privileges and God’s great lovingkindness to them as a nation said this in Deut. 32:10.
Deut. 32:10 – He found him in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye.
King David realized the blessing of being cared for by God in this special way and thus prayed for himself in Psalm 17:6-9.
Ps. 17:6-9 – I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt answer me, O God; Incline Thine ear to me, hear my speech. Wondrously show Thy lovingkindness, O Savior of those who take refuge at Thy right hand From those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of your eye; Hide me in the shadow of Thy wings, From the wicked who despoil me, My deadly enemies, who surround me.
What can we learn from this fact? We learn that Israel has a very special place in God’s heart. He chose them in a special way to accomplish His plan and purpose and as such, they are dear to God. This means that we better check or attitude, thoughts, and feelings about this special people. I know I don’t want to be on the receiving end of God’s discipline because of wrong thoughts and actions against Israel. May our thoughts line up with God’s in this matter.