God called Israel into existence for His purposes, and His purposes were directly related to all nations. Israel existed as an instrument of God’s revelation, and also to be a blessing to all of humanity (Genesis 12:3).
After the Lord delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, He spoke to them through Moses in Exodus 19:4-6:
‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 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.’
Before He gives the Israelites His Law and makes a covenant with them, God reminds them of how He brought them out of the land of slavery (Egypt), and immediately speaks of His calling for them. Israel was chosen by God so that it would be a holy people different from others and separated for God’s purposes and a nation of priests.
God chose Israel to shine the light of the knowledge of Him to the rest of the world. In God’s eyes, Israel is separated unto Him, among, but apart from the other nations of the earth (Numbers 23:9). Obedience to the Law of God is and the very presence of God, what made Israel’s society different from other nations. The Law was given to make Israel an example, a light for the nations. The nations were to see God’s just rule through the Law.
God’s ultimate goal was not only to save the descendants of Abraham from Egyptian slavery and bring them to the Promised Land. His plan was for them to serve Him and be a testimony to the nations that the Lord will bless a society that lives according to the Law of the King.
Eugene H. Merrill (PhD) an Old Testament scholar explains his understanding of Israel’s calling according to the book of Deuteronomy:
“Israel, however, serves a functional role in Deuteronomy, one, in line with the formal nature of the book, that portrays it as a servant of Yahweh whose mission was one of modeling the kingdom of God on earth…”
Eugene H. Merrill “Deuteronomy, The New American Commentary.”
[Copyright 1994 B&H Publishing Group, p.51]
When Israel was established in the ancient Middle East, it exemplified a special form of government, beliefs, values and standards that made it completely unlike all the surrounding countries. The Israelites were called to reveal to the world the unique culture of their King – God.
This article is an excerpt from “Influence. Responding to the Call of God”