God's Relationship with Ancient Israel

You are here

God's Relationship with Ancient Israel

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


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).

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). Earlier God had told Samuel, ". . . They have rejected Me, that I should not rule over them" (1 Samuel 8:7).

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).

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).

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, 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, 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, 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.