Why is Israel special to God
Israel has a unique and special relationship with God that sets it apart from other nations in biblical history. There are several important reasons why Israel is special to God:
God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
God’s special relationship with Israel begins with His calling of Abraham in Genesis 12. God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham, promising to bless him, make his name great, and make his descendants into a great nation that will be a blessing to all the peoples on earth (Genesis 12:1-3). These promises are passed on to Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28).
God reiterates His covenant to Israel saying, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6). So Israel is called to be God’s special people, a holy nation set apart for His purposes.
God’s miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt
God demonstrates His special love for Israel by miraculously delivering them from slavery in Egypt through the Exodus. God raises up Moses to confront Pharaoh and sends 10 plagues upon Egypt to secure Israel’s freedom. This act of mighty deliverance shows God acting powerfully on behalf of His people.
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4). Israel’s exodus from Egypt is the central redemptive event in the Old Testament through which God makes Israel His treasured people.
The giving of the Law at Sinai
Another key event that makes Israel special is when God gives Moses the Ten Commandments and the Law at Mount Sinai. Israel is called to be set apart from other nations by obeying God’s laws and statutes. God says:
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” (Exodus 19:5). It is Israel’s unique obligation to follow God’s laws that makes them special.
The Promised Land
God also makes a covenant with Abraham promising him the land of Canaan for his descendants (Genesis 15:18-21). God fulfills this promise centuries later through Joshua leading the people to conquer Canaan. God fought for Israel and displaced the Canaanites, Hittites and other peoples because of His promise to Abraham.
“I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you.” (Exodus 23:31).
The gift of the Promised Land is another unique way God blesses Israel and makes them His special people.
Israel as God’s “chosen people”
On several occasions God calls Israel His “chosen people” (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2, Isaiah 41:8). This description means God sovereignly elected Israel from all the nations on earth to belong to Him in a special way.
God says to Israel, “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 14:2).
Israel is not chosen because they are more powerful or righteous than other nations, but simply because of God’s loving choice. So Israel’s identity as God’s elect is another key part of their special status.
The everlasting covenants
A final important reason Israel is special to God is because He makes several everlasting or eternal covenants with Israel. After rescuing Israel from Egypt, God establishes His covenant with them at Sinai saying,
“I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” (Exodus 6:7).
Despite Israel’s later disobedience, God still keeps His promises. God says through the prophet Jeremiah:
“I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them…I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.” (Jeremiah 32:40-41).
These everlasting promises confirm God will never fully reject His people Israel though they repeatedly break His covenant. God still has future plans for Israel because of the eternal covenants made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David (Psalm 89:34; Romans 11:29). That is why Israel still remains special to God.
Israel blessed to bless the world
Finally, embedded in God’s covenant with Abraham is His plan to bless the whole world through Abraham and his descendants:
“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…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2-3).
So Israel is special not only for themselves, but to be God’s vehicle to bless all other nations – to be a light shine God’s salvation to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). Israel’s ultimate mission is to be a witness to the true God, and conduit of the the Messiah who provides redemption for the whole world.
Key reasons summarized
In summary, here are the key reasons Israel is special to God:
- God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
- Miraculous deliverance from Egypt
- The giving of the Law at Sinai
- Inheriting the Promised Land
- Chosen as God’s special people
- Recipients of God’s eternal covenants
- Blessed to be a blessing to world as witnesses of God
Despite Israel’s frequent disobedience and idolatry, God still loves them and has a unique purpose for them among all the peoples of the world. God set His affection on Israel above any other nation. That is why Israel remains special to God.
God’s future plans for Israel
It crucial to understand God still has unique future plans for Israel because of His covenant promises. The New Testament confirms that Israel still has an important role to play in God’s redemptive purposes (Romans 9-11).
The key aspects of God’s future plans for Israel include:
Regathering to promised land
Though Israel was exiled from the land, God promises to regather them back to the Promised Land in the last days:
“I will bring back my exiled people Israel…I will gather them from all the countries and bring them back into their own land” (Ezekiel 34:13)
This began with the Zionist movement and establishment of modern state of Israel in 1948. But God promises even greater in-gathering of Jews back to Israel ahead.
National salvation & restoration
Despite Israel’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah right now, God promises that in the future there will come a massive turning of Jewish people to Christ:
“And so 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 11:26-27)
Salvation of Israel and their full restoration is still ahead in God’s prophetic plan when Jesus returns.
The saved and restored Israel will then live under the perfect rule of the Messiah Jesus when He comes to establish His kingdom on earth from a new Jerusalem:
“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you, declares the Lord. Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.” (Zechariah 2:10-11)
Israel’s special status and role will be elevated above all nations in the coming Messianic kingdom.
So in the future, God still has very specific plans to bless, restore and redeem Israel – because they still remain uniquely special to Him among all the nations.