The Covenant and Calling of the Jewish People
By T. Harris
Throughout scripture it is evident that God loved Israel passionately and viewed her as His bride (Is. 62:5, Song of Solomon, Hosea 1:2). He delighted in Israel and desired to show His love and forgiveness to all peoples of the earth through His covenant with her. As early as Genesis 12:3 God reveals to Abraham that all families of the earth will be blessed through his descendants. In Deuteronomy 4:6, Moses exhorts the people concerning the statutes of the covenant, “Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’"
The Psalms, a collection of songs which flowed out of an intimate relationship with God, reveal God’s heart and are often prophetic. In Psalm 67 (v. 1-2) David sang, “May God be gracious to us and bless us; look on us with favor so that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.” Psalms 96:3 exhorts Israel to “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonderful works among all peoples.”
Often God sent Israel’s prophets to the nations. With compassion God spoke to Jonah, “Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than 120,000 people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left…?” (Jonah 4:11). He sent prophets such as Jeremiah and Isaiah in effort to turn His wayward Beloved back to Himself, but also to pronounce judgment and reveal future plans for the nations.
God revealed through Isaiah the ultimate blessing to be given through Israel—the ministry of the promised Messiah, “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations…he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles…” (Is. 42: 1, 4, 6).
However, Israel’s purpose didn’t end when Yeshua (Jesus) came.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “…has God rejected His people? Absolutely not….have they stumbled so as to fall? Absolutely not! On the contrary, by their stumbling, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling brings riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full number bring…Regarding the gospel, they are enemies for your advantage, but regarding election, they are loved because of their forefathers, since God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable.” (Romans 11: 1, 11-12, 28-29)
Paul reminded the Romans that even though Israel rejected the Messiah, He is not finished with them. In fact, in 11:26 he states that all Israel will be saved! After this statement he emphasized that Israel’s calling is irrevocable. They are still to be a light to the nations.
Seven times in Genesis God repeated His covenant to Abraham which gave him and his descendants unconditional ownership of the land of Canaan (12:7, 13:15, 15:18, 17:8, 26:3, 28:13, 35:12). Later, in Deuteronomy 12:5, 11 before the Israelites had entered the land promised to them, God revealed that He had already chosen a specific place for His name to dwell—which was later revealed to them as Jerusalem. Not only was it chosen as the place His presence dwelled, but it will be the place Yeshua will once again return to and reign from!
God declared through Amos, “I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them…I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.” (Amos 9:14-15). In 1948, after thousands of years of exile, He fulfilled this promise and established Israel in the land promised to Abraham’s descendants. Israel—the Promised Land and the people—continue to be central to His purposes. His further plans for the Kingdom of God to be manifest in Israel is found in Romans 10:1 and Romans 11:25, and can be your prayer as well, “May all Israel be saved”. May His people be sent out from Israel to the nations to be “lights to the nations” as they reflect Yeshua and His Word as foretold in scripture.