The plan of God as shown through the line of the Jewish race is one that faithfully and lovingly records God’s compassion for the World and the fact that He, indeed, is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, KJV).¹ One need only to look at the many ways in which God tenderly and mercifully deals with this group of people to see a glimpse of just how He, even today, is always gracious in showing kindness and extended grace to those who are lost with the opportunity for eternal redemption.
God’s Word clearly sets forth the introduction of the Jewish race on the worldly scene. There are actually two other titles that are announced in the Old Testament prior to this introduction of “Jew”. In Genesis 14:13, the first occurrence of the word “Hebrew” is used in the Bible when describing Abram. Next, the familiar name of “Israel” is assigned to Jacob in Genesis 32:28. It is not until II Kings 16:6 that the very first mention of the term “Jew” is recorded in Scripture. With this understanding of Scripture, it is easy to come to the conclusion that the first Jew was indeed a Gentile. The logical question that then surfaces is: Why the Jews? Why did God foresee the need to establish a new line in the human family?
In Genesis, chapter 12, a very important covenant is given that would literally change the face of human history forever. This covenant would begin a “line of promise” that would extend from the first recipient, Abram (Genesis 12:1-3, KJV), to Isaac (Genesis 26:3-5, KJV), and later to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15, KJV). In this covenant, God promised to these men to “make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great: and though shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3, KJV). A true picture of Grace is seen in the Covenant with these men. In short, they are given a promise of which no action on their part is required or even accepted. There would, of course, be other Covenants to follow which would be conditional, but the most important one of all, that would provide a land and nation rested solely upon God’s shoulders. Grace indeed is receiving what is not deserved, and in this case, a great nation is promised through the line of promise to these Patriarchs. Perhaps the reason God gave birth to a new line in the human family is as simple as setting apart a race of people that would be wholly dedicated to Him and His statutes. In the end, the fact still remains that God had pre-ordained the promised Messiah to come through the Jewish line and for that reason alone was sufficient to weave this strand into the human family.
All throughout the remainder of God’s Word, the relationship continues of a Father lovingly caring for His children as seen in the nation of Israel. On many different occasions, her rebellion against God as a nation should have been enough to destroy her, yet God showed tender mercy in dealing with her peculiarities. In I Kings 18, a wonderful example of God’s grace is shown at Mount Carmel. Elijah, delivering a message from God over Israel’s disobedience and Baal worship, builds an altar and charges the false prophets to do the same. A showdown is staged where the real God would answer by fire to prove His existence. Rather than punishing and dealing harshly with His people, God tenderly allows them to see His power and majesty as the false prophets call out to no avail for Baal to answer by fire. When Elijah calls out to the God of Israel, He overwhelmingly answers the call, and makes a powerful, miraculous showing that He is still there for His people (I Kings 18, KJV). They immediately turn to Him and their relationship restored. Where judgment abounded and punishment required for rebellious actions, Grace did much more abound for Israel! So is the case time and time again as her rebellion would take her in and back out of the land. This has continued to this present day, yet God’s grace is always ever present to any who will receive it.
There exists in the picture of Israel, a spiritual application to Christians today. Though the Church would not come into existence until Acts, chapter 2, Israel’s disobedience, ignorance, and even foolishness can be seen in the Church today- down to the individual believer. Times may frequently occur where the Christian finds many opportunities for “Baal” worship: sports, money, fame, work, media, and others. God is many times neglected and His will negated in the lives of the believer. But, just as seen with the nation of Israel, God is a God who allows Grace to have its work in the life of the believer. The Holy Spirit does His work of always conforming the believer to that of his heavenly Father. Just as God chose Israel and tenderly nurtured, protected, but admonished her, so is the case in the life of the believer and in the Church today. God has chosen to cover, with the blood, any and all who will come to Him. The Grace that Israel experienced can be had by all if only asked for.
1All Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Bible version, Royal, 1971.