Bible prophecy is all about Jesus, yet it revolves around Israel from start to finish. Although God first promised to send a Redeemer while Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), He subsequently narrowed this prophetic focus to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and then specifically to the lineage of King David.
Why did the Lord choose the sons of Jacob, whom He renamed Israel? Romans 9 reveals that His choice happened as the result of His sovereignty. It was solely His choice in the matter. Jacob had more of a heart for God than his wicked brother, however, starting with the call of Abram, every choice flowed from His divine purposes rather than from the character of the one He chose.
We might also ask why it was necessary to choose just one nation. The answer to this question unveils God’s wisdom in His choice of one people through whom He would both reveal and fulfill His redemptive purposes for humanity.
1. The Preservation Of Scripture
It would have been nearly impossible to preserve Old Testament Scriptures as one revelation from God apart from Him choosing to reveal His Word through one special race. In Romans 3:1-2, Paul alludes to Israel’s privilege of being the recipients of God’s revelation: Romans 3:1-2 KJV – “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
What if the Lord had revealed the story of creation and the flood to the Egyptians, the Psalms to the Assyrians, and then sent His prophets to Israel? Can you imagine such confusion? How would we know what or who to believe?
In order to preserve the integrity of Scripture, His revelation to humanity had to come through one chosen race. There’s no other way that we could know that the Old Testament is truly God’s Word apart from such unity.
God’s purpose in this matter enables us to recognize the fulfillment of biblical prophecy as His story unfolded through the Israelites leading to the birth of the Savior.
2. The Identification Of The Savior
Apart from the Lord choosing to reveal His sovereign purposes through one nation, Israel, there wouldn’t have been any sure way to identify the Messiah when He came into the world as a baby in Bethlehem.
All the Old Testament books, written by descendants of Jacob and preserved by the Jewish people, point to the coming Messiah and each identify Him in a unique way. They form a supernatural and cohesive unit that not only speaks to their divine inspiration, but also to the unfolding of God’s plan through the Christ both in the past and for the future.
The Hebrew prophets, though separated by hundreds of years, provide a remarkably consistent picture of the coming Messiah revealing many aspects of His birth, life, ministry, suffering, and resurrection. Jesus fulfilled 48 specific prophecies along with a great many types revealed throughout the Scriptures during His first arrival on earth.
A book could be written on this matter, but suffice to say that we know Jesus was our long-awaited Redeemer, because God chose Israel as His people, inspired the Old Testament through them, and provided many prophecies and types that all pointed to our Savior.
3. The Understanding Of God’s Character
How could we possibly know so much about God’s character apart from His revelation to one particular people that unfolded during a time span of 1,500 years? We learn many things through His dealing with Israel over a period of many centuries.
God’s message to mankind became much clearer with Jesus’ entrance into the world (Hebrews 1:1-4) and the New Testament, which the Lord inspired through His apostles.
That does not, however, negate the wealth of understanding about God’s character that can be gleaned from the pages of the Old Testament, especially throughout the Psalms. As already mentioned, each book portrays Jesus in a unique way that furthers our understanding of Him and of His nature as God, who took on human form.
4. The Illustration Of God’s Redemptive Program
The book of Hebrews reveals how the Levitical sacrificial system both illustrated and pointed to Jesus’ death on the cross through which we have forgiveness of sins. This further illustrates the necessity of God choosing one people through whom He could reveal His saving purposes for the entire world.
The words Hebrews 9:19-23 illustrate how the sacrificial system God revealed to Moses showed the necessity of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Hebrews 9:19-23 KJV – “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”
The Law demonstrated that a blood sacrifice was necessary for the “forgiveness of sins.” The repetition of the sacrifices under the Levitical system pointed to the once-for-all death of Christ on the cross for our redemption.
John the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Although it took a while for believing Jews to fully grasp what he meant by that designation, we understand it today because of the system of sacrifices revealed for us in the book of Leviticus that pointed to the Messiah as the “Lamb” who would die in our place upon the cross.
5. The Writing Of The New Testament
God’s selection of one race was also critical for the completion of His written revelation to us, the New Testament. It was written by Jewish men, most of whom witnessed Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and were able, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to tell us about His life and expand upon His redemptive purposes for us.
God later chose the Apostle Paul to communicate much of our understanding regarding the Gospel. Very few men in his day had the same high level of understanding regarding the Old Testament as did Paul, which enabled him to help the Jews of His day, and us, better understand how the Hebrew Scriptures verified the message of grace that he proclaimed to both Jew and Greek.
To demonstrate the continuity of revelation and prophecy from the Old Testament to the end of New Testament, it was necessary for all its writers to have a deep understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. For example, the book of Revelation contains a great many inferences from the ancient Hebrew prophets and connects them to the completion of the Lord’s redemptive purposes during Jesus’ thousand-year reign and the eternal state. The unity of biblical prophecy staggers our minds with its supernatural character.
6. The Resolution Of History
One huge downside exists for God’s chosen people: Satan has never let up in attempting to thwart the Lord’s redemptive purposes for selecting Israel. His attacks on God’s chosen race have been murderous, extreme, relentless, and continue to this very moment.
The book of Esther provides a prime example of the devil seeking to stop the birth of the Messiah. He later inspired Herod to kill all the babies in Bethlehem in order to stop God’s plan. From 1 Corinthians 2:6-7, we learn that even Jesus’ crucifixion was intended to thwart God’s plan, but it backfired big time for Satan and his minions.
God’s Word says that Jesus will return to a repentant Israel and someday He will enter Jerusalem as the Jewish people shout with glee, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Zechariah 12:10-13:1; Matthew 23:37-39). In order to stop Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 from coming to fruition, Satan has greatly intensified the world’s hostility and hatred toward the Jewish people since Israel became a nation in 1948.
The October 7, 2023, a barbaric attack on Israel came from the pit of hell and Satan’s determination to stop the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The turning of world opinion against Israel comes from the same motive.
In light of such great suffering over the millennia, is it not only right and just that the Lord would give Israel a glorious kingdom? His people have greatly suffered solely because God chose them to fulfill His redemptive plans through them. In the end, Israel will experience the wonders of a restored kingdom far more glorious than anything even seen in human history.
What will we see inscribed above the twelve gates to the New Jerusalem, our home for all eternity? It will be the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, one for each entry in the city (Revelation 21:11-12). For all eternity, we will see these names and remember that God accomplished His saving purposes for us by choosing Israel as His special people.