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Question #2

What was the purpose/goal God intended for His chosen people, Israel?

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In brief, God brought Israel into existence and chose them as an instrument to bring to completion His redemptive program for mankind.  This purpose included the responsibility of representing (revealing) God to all the nations (Gentiles) of the earth (e.g., through its prophets ó His Holy Word ó and finally through Godís only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ); and ultimately to fulfill the purpose God intended for man ó to have dominion over the earth.  Through the Jewish people God brought forth His Seed (Christ) and through Him alone God provides eternal salvation by grace through faith.  And although Israel has historically and repeatedly turned from God, the nation will eventually repent upon Christís Second Advent.  At this time Israel will be instrumental in the realization of Godís plans and purposes for bringing man into existence ó the manifestation of Godís blessings upon the earth and the nations of the earth, both awaiting the Messianic Era.  This era will be a time of restoration of the earth and the fulfillment of manís purpose as recorded in the opening verses of Genesis.

 

For more detail regarding Godís purpose for Israel, note the comments by the following commentators of the Word:

 

Scott Crawford[1]

 

Immediately after the fall of man, God took action to fulfill his eternal purpose declaring the defeat of Satan with a view to the restoration of the kingdom through mankind (cf. Genesis 3:15).  Approximately, two thousand years transpired before Godís word revealed more specifically how God planned to bring about His plan.  With the calling of Abram (Genesis 12:1-3) God began to show how He would elevate one group of people to carry out His plan of redemption and restoration.  Abram and his physical descendants were not singled out to exclusively receive eternal life.  Quite the contrary, they were chosen sovereignly by God for the regal purpose of exemplifying and proclaiming the mission of God to the Gentiles.  To conclude eternal life was exclusive to Abramís physical descendants ignores the multitude of Gentiles saved prior to and after him. 

 

Genesis 12:1-3 reveals how God would bless Abram in a three-fold manner: Abram would father a great nation, He would be blessed by God personally, and He would possess a great name.  The purpose for these blessings was so that Abram would be a blessing to the Gentiles.  This text serves as the primary mission text for the remainder of biblical revelation.  Abram was chosen by God for the specific purpose of furthering Godís initiative to reclaim that which had been lost by Adam.  As time progressed, Abramís name was changed to Abraham, meaning father of a multitude.  Then he miraculously fathered Isaac who in turn fathered Jacob.  Furthermore, Jacobís name was changed to Israel, which means prince of God, showing the regal purpose of God for him and his progeny. 

 

This regal purpose is vividly portrayed in Exodus 19:4-6 which is another monumental Old Testament text revealing the mission of God.  In this passage, God declares that the nation of Israel was to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests.  When God delivered the nation of Israel from Egypt it was for a specific purpose Ė to serve or worship Him (cf. Exodus 3:12: 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3).  The regal nation of Israel was to worship God by serving in a mediatorial role between Him and all the other nations.  It was Godís will that all the earth know Him through Israel and for all the earth to be ďfilled with the glory of the Lord.Ē (Numbers 14:21)  As mediators, they were to live in a holy manner so that they would be recognized by the Gentiles as Godís special people.  They were to be a missionary nation.  Following the previously revealed purpose for Abramís blessing (so that he would be a blessing) Israel was to continue in this purpose.

 

In order to enjoy the benefits of their majestic calling, Israel was required to obey the Lord.  Through their obedience, Godís plan to fill the earth with His glory would be accomplished.  The key to their obedience was faith.  They were to believe God, trusting in His ability to give them victory while providing for their every need.  Further, they were to live according to Godís standards being separate in that respect from the Gentiles.  Unfortunately, they failed to believe or obey.  Loss of privilege as well as a history of despair and defeat ensued.

 

The regal missionary purpose for the nation of Israel is made very evident throughout the Old Testament.  They were to be a ďlight unto the GentilesĒ (Isaiah 49:6).  Jerusalem was to be the worldís capital city where inhabitants from all nations would worship and praise the Almighty (cf. Psalm 87). The psalmist proclaimed, ďThat thy way may be known upon the earth, thy saving health among all nationsĒ (Psalm 67:2).  Godís plan was that when the nations saw the blessing of God upon Israel, they would come to believe in the God of Israel and be saved.  The sending of Jonah to Nineveh makes known the will of God for Israelís evangelization of the nations.  When Solomonís temple was built, it was not exclusive to Israel.  Rather, it was to be a house of prayer for the nations (cf. 1 Kings 8:41-43; Isaiah 56:6-7).  Both Zechariah and Malachi envision the Gentiles and Israel living together in peace.  The whole earth was to be engaged in the worship of the God of Israel (cf. Zechariah 2:11; Malachi 1:11).

 

The message of the Old Testament longs for the redemption and restoration of the entire earth through Godís chosen people.  The prophesied kingdom is eagerly awaited by the prophets (cf. Isaiah 2: 61-66; Ezekiel 36:22-23) where the entire earth will live in harmony under the rule of God.

 

Arlen L. Chitwood[2]

 

In Genesis, chapter eleven God called one man out of the human race to be the channel through whom His plans and purposes for bringing man into existence would ultimately be realized.  God called Abraham from Ur. Of the Chaldees; and through Abraham God set about to (1) effect manís redemption (the Redeemer would come from the loins of Abraham), (2) reveal Himself to man (through the prophets, and in His Son [Hebrews 1:1, 2]óall descendants of Abraham), and (3) manifest His blessings upon the nations of the earth (awaiting the Messianic Era, wherein Godís plans and purposes for the restoration of this earth and manís creation, recorded in the opening verses of Genesis, will ultimately be realized).

 

God, by calling Abraham from Ur for specific, revealed purposes, established not only a division between Abraham and the remainder of mankind but also a means by which God, from that point forward, would deal with the remainder of mankind. 

 

Abraham was called for special and particular purposes that would affect the remainder of mankind; and following Abrahamís call, the remainder of mankind would accordingly, without exception, always be dealt with in relation to Godís dealings with Abraham and his seed.

 

After Genesis, chapter eleven, though individuals and nations who are not of Abrahamís lineage occupy a prominent place in Scripture, the central point upon which Scripture focuses never changes.  The focal point remains on ďAbraham and his seed,Ē and individuals or nations are dealt with only in relation to Godís dealings with one man and his progeny.

 

The nation of Israel is the focal point for Godís dealings with the Gentile nations of the earth.  Jerusalem has been placed ďin the midst of the nations,Ē and Israel is the ďapple [lit., pupil]Ē of Godís eye (Ezekiel 5:5; Zechariah 2:8).  Jerusalem has been placed at the exact geographical center of the earth, and God looks upon the surrounding Gentile nations through the nation of Israel.  Israel has occupied this status since the inception of the nation, and Israel will continue to occupy this status throughout time and eternity.

 

Today as possibly never before the attention of the world is focused on the Middle East.  For forty-two years the two most powerful nations on earth, the United States and Russia [now the U.S.S.R.], avoided direct intervention in the affairs of nations in the Middle East. . . . And it is about to change . . . In the immediate future Russia [U.S.S.R.] will directly intervene in Middle East affairs by invading Israel, in fulfillment of Ezekiel 38, 39.

 

It is these things that God, unlike man, views through the nation of Israel.  Israel is Godís firstborn son, brought into existence for special and particular purposes, which either have been or ultimately will be realized.  And all of these purposes have to do with the well-being of the surrounding Gentile nations throughout both time and eternity.

 

Israel was brought into existence to give man the Word of God, give man the Redeemer, and be the channel through which the nations of earth would be blessed.  The first two parts of this nationís three-part calling have been realized; this nation has provided man with the Word of God and the Redeemer.  But the fulfillment of the third part awaits a future date; the nations being blessed through Israel awaits the Messianic Era.

 

The nations, in their ignorance, because of the working of Satan in time past, are determined not to let God bless them through the nation of Israel.  But in spite of present and future antagonism toward Israel ó brought about by Satan because of Israelís position as Godís firstborn ó this is the nation through whom God has  decreed that He will ultimately bless all the other nations of the earth (Genesis 12:3; 22:17, 18).  And Godís decree will one day be carried out, for not only is this an integral part of Israelís birthright (the rights of the firstborn) but ďthe gifts and calling of God are without repentance [without a change of mind]Ē (Exodus 4:22, 23; 19:5, 6; Romans 11:29).  Regardless of the attitude of the surrounding nations toward Israel ó past, present, or future; hostile or friendly ó God cannot, God will not, change His Mind concerning the reason He called Israel into existence.

 

A. Edwin Wilson[3]

 

Now the election of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob manifest Godís love in setting aside the posterity of these men and designating them as the children of Israel.  Their election was not to damn the rest of the world but that through them all men might be blessed (Genesis 12:3). 

 

Godís election of Israel was for the following purposes:  (1) To establish a people through whom Christ should come in the flesh (Romans 9:5; Acts 2:30).  (2) That through them His revelation (the Holy Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments) might be given to mankind (Romans 3:1, 2; Psalm 147:19, 20).  (3) That the testimony of the one true and living God might be preserved and propagated through time.  (4) That they might be Jehovahís witnesses [not to be confused with the cult of today] to all the nations of the world.

 

Through Israel is set aside today as a nation and enjoys no national privileges, neither assumes any national responsibilities, we will learn in Romans 11 that during this period of national rejection, opportunity has been extended to the Gentiles to be Jehovahís witnesses.  But because of the Gentileís unbelief they shall surrender that privilege and it will be again given to the nation of Israel.


 

[1] The Theology of Missions by Scott Crawford, www.wordoftruthclass.org

[2] Focus on the Middle East by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 1991, pages 3, 4, 25, 26

[3] Selected Writing of A. Edwin Wilson as edited by Arlen L. Chitwood, Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc. 1996, page 32