God's Relationship with Ancient Israel

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God's Relationship with Ancient Israel

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That association was based on a covenant that documented the promises, expectations and conditions important to the relationship.

Through Moses, God told the Israelites, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a Holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6 Exodus 19:5-6 5 Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
American King James Version×
).

This relationship, to a certain extent, was patterned after the marriage covenant. But it was not in Israel’s heart to obey God. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God told Israel, “Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel . . .” (Jeremiah 3:20 Jeremiah 3:20Surely as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
). Earlier God had told Samuel, “. . . They have rejected Me, that I should not rule over them” (1 Samuel 8:7 1 Samuel 8:7And the LORD said to Samuel, Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
American King James Version×
).

Notice God’s assessment of their rejection of Him as their God and Ruler.

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: ‘I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me; the ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider’ . . . They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward” (Isaiah 1:2-4 Isaiah 1:2-4 2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel does not know, my people does not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger, they are gone away backward.
American King James Version×
).

What was God’s response to this rejection? “. . . I raised My hand in an oath . . . that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries, because they had not executed My judgments, but despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols” (Ezekiel 20:23-24 Ezekiel 20:23-24 23 I lifted up my hand to them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; 24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.
American King James Version×
).

Although the ancient Israelites rejected God and spurned His invitation for a relationship, He still deeply desires a relationship with human beings. Though God punished the Israelites, He has never completely rejected them or their descendants. Paul explains: “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” (Romans 11:1-2 Romans 11:1-2 1 I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away his people which he foreknew. Know you not what the scripture said of Elias? how he makes intercession to God against Israel saying,
American King James Version×
, New Revised Standard Version).

Paul continues: “. . . I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, ‘Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’ ” (Romans 11:25-26 Romans 11:25-26 25 For I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

Paul concludes: “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as [their] election [as people with whom God has established a special relationship] is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you . . .” (Romans 11:28-31 Romans 11:28-31 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as you in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
American King James Version×
, New International Version).

Because of God’s great mercy He plans to bring the people of Israel to full repentance and, working through them, invite all other people into a similar relationship with Him.

God is faithful. He doesn’t give up on a relationship He establishes as long as there remains any hope for repentance and restoration of the parties involved.