God chose ancient Israel to be His special people to preserve the awareness of His law and to make known to the world the good news of the coming Savior. He wanted them to be wells of salvation to the world. What Abraham was in the land of his sojourn, what Joseph was in Egypt, and Daniel in the courts of Babylon, the Hebrew people were to be among the nations. They were to preach God’s love to men.
In the call of Abraham, the Lord had said, “I will bless you… and you will be a blessing…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2, 3). The same instruction was repeated through the prophets. Even after Israel had been lost by war and captivity, the assurance was theirs, “The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man” (Micah 5:7). Concerning the temple at Jerusalem, the Lord professed through Isaiah, “Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all peoples” (Isiah 56:7, R. V).
But the Israelite fixed their expectations upon worldly greatness. From the time of their entrance to the land of Canaan, they left the commandments of God, and adopted the ways of the heathen. It was a hopeless condition that God sent them repeated warnings by His prophets. Every restoration was followed by deeper apostasy.
Had Israel been true to God, He could have achieved His purpose through their honor (Deut. 26:19; 28:10; 4:6). But because of their disloyalty, God’s purpose was carried out through continued misfortune and humiliation.
In the New Testament, the task that was given to ancient Israel was transferred to the apostolic church because the nation of Israel crucified the Son of God. The “kingdom of God” was taken from them and was “given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43). However, as individuals they may be saved by accepting Christ (Romans 11:23, 24).
Now the church has the obligation of spreading the gospel to every nation under heaven. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
In His service,