Bible Verses About Israel Being Chosen
The nation of Israel and the Jewish people occupy a unique and important place in the biblical narrative. According to the Old Testament, God chose the Israelites to be a special people set apart for divine purposes. There are a number of key Bible verses that speak to this special calling and election of Israel.
The Calling of Abraham and the Promise of Nationhood
The choosing of Israel begins with Abraham, the father and patriarch of the people of Israel. In Genesis chapter 12, God calls Abram (later renamed Abraham) and makes an unconditional covenant with him:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:1-3)
This begins the process through which God set apart Abraham and his descendants for a unique divine purpose. The promise here is that Abraham will become a “great nation”. The remainder of the book of Genesis tells the story of the beginnings of this nation—the early Hebrew people—that descended from Abraham.
Later in Genesis, God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham, promising him the land of Canaan and a multitude of descendants:
“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and **I will be their God**." (Genesis 17:7-8)
The Nation of Israel Delivered from Slavery
The descendants of Abraham multiply rapidly. Eventually, due to a series of events, they end up enslaved in Egypt. God then commissions Moses to lead the people out of bondage and into the Promised Land. This story is told in the book of Exodus. God promises to Moses that he will make of Abraham’s offspring a great nation:
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering... And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. **So now, go**. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:7, 9-10)
God also said to Moses, “I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as **God Almighty**, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself fully known to them... Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians... I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” (Exodus 6:2, 6, 7)
So God promises again that Israel with be His special people, whom He will deliver from bondage. The Exodus story tells how God brings severe plagues of judgement on Egypt to break Pharaoh’s resolve, finally culminating in the sacrifice of all the firstborn in Egypt, during which the homes of the Israelites are “passed over”. This event is commemorated as Passover.
Israel Reaches the Promised Land
In Exodus and Numbers, The Bible records the journey of Israel from Egypt to Mt. Sinai where the Law is given, and finally to the edge of Canaan, the Promised Land. Before entry, Moses reiterates the special purpose of Israel:
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has **chosen** **you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession**. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession. (Psalm 135:4)
Nevertheless, for the sake of his great name the Lord did not destroy them or abandon them, for the Lord had sworn to them by his very self and had determined never to **break his covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob**. He remembered his covenant with them and relented. (2 Kings 13:23)
Exile and Restoration
Despite God’s special choosing of Israel, the Old Testament records Israel’s repeated disobedience to God’s laws. This disobedience eventually leads God to exercise judgement through the Babylonian Exile—a traumatic period when Israelites are take away captive to Babylon for 70 years. However, the prophets also foresee a future restoration of Israel according to God’s promises. The book of Isaiah notably envisions a return from Exile:
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘**Give them up**!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth...” (Isaiah 43:5-6)
Israel’s Future Redemption
The Old Testament prophets also look forward to a future, ultimate redemption of Israel. Though they experience judgement for disobedience and apostasy, in his compassion, God still upholds his chosen people. The book of Ezekiel foresees a coming spiritual restoration that will uphold God’s holiness:
“‘Therefore say to the Israelites, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: **It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name**...” ’” (Ezekiel 36:22)
The prophet Zechariah speaks encouragement to those rebuilding Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity:
“`“For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye— I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them…Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. “…And you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.” (Zechariah 2:8-11)
So despite Israel's cycles of blessing and judgement, God displays steadfast devotion to uphold his chosen people. His divine purposes for Israel stand firm even through their unfaithfulness.
### Israel and the New Covenant
The New Testament continues to affirm God's unique election of ethnic Israel according to his promise. As Peter declares at Pentecost:
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:36)
In Romans, the apostle Paul anguishes over the mostly unbelieving state of Israel:
“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel…” (Romans 9:1-3)
However, Paul sees a future redemption coming in which Israel will turn again to God through Jesus:
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)
So in the New Testament, the irrevocable calling of Israel continues, having now reached a climatic chapter through the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. And this election of Israel still has definitive future purposes to unfold according to God's greater redemptive plan.
### Israel as a Blessing to All Peoples
Finally, the choosing and blessing of Israel is not solely about God's favor upon one nation. From the initial promise to Abraham, there is a definitive purpose intended to bless the whole world:
I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:2-3)
Abraham and his offspring would become conduits of blessing to “all peoples on earth.” Israel exists not merely for its own glory and privilege before God. The nation is intended to mediate God's salvation to the whole world. Israel as God’s chosen people is not the endpoint, but a key vehicle by which God's redemptive plan touches all nations.
The Psalms summarize this inclusive purpose regarding Israel’s election:
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” (Psalm 67:1-2)
So Scripture defines a clear calling and purpose placed on national Israel and the Jewish people. Despite their flaws and faithlessness, God’s commitment never wavers. And through Israel comes divine blessing and redemption intended for all peoples in keeping with his covenant loyal love revealed ultimately in Jesus the Messiah. God has not replaced or nullified ethnic Israel, but now seeks to bring his redemptive plan to climatic fruition through them. The fullness of Israel’s election will involve full inclusion of both Jew and Gentile together in the dawning Kingdom of Christ.