Paul writes the following in the book of Romans (Chapter 9:3):
For I wish that I myself were accursed for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
What an amazing summary of the purposes of God with the people and nation of Israel!
Last month I wrote about the covenant God made with Abram, known as the Abrahamic covenant. This covenant was unique in that it was an unconditional covenant, made with a man (Abram) and his descendants, pertaining to a piece of defined land which God committed to give to them as an everlasting possession. (Gen 15).
The Abrahamic covenant gave everlasting right of ownership to the land of Canaan, to Israel (Abraham’s descendants). However, obedience to the commandments and statutes of God would ensure the privilege and blessing of living in the land. Disobedience to God would not mean loss of ownership but rather loss of domicile for a period, until Israel repented and returned to her God.
The Mosaic covenant that God made with the Hebrew nation after He had brought them up out of Egypt, would spell out the commandments and ordinances that He expected them to obey. He says that He set His people free so that they could serve Him and so that they could become His people and He their God.
Exodus 6:5 — “…I have remembered My covenant [which He made with their forefathers]. Therefore say to the children of Israel : I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements. I will take you as My people and I will be your God…”v8, “And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am the Lord!”
This awesome God would set them free and redeem them to be His unique people. He took them out of Egypt into the wilderness where He would betroth them to Himself through a marriage covenant. He would not only make them His people, but also His bride!
After Moses had brought God’s message to the people, which was that He intended to prepare them to be His “special treasure above all people” ( Ex 19:5)… “then all the people answered together and said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” (v8).
The covenant He made with them through Moses on Mount Sinai would become known as the Mosaic covenant. It would encompass the covenantal conditions for the marriage contract. A holy God needs a holy people to be in relationship with Him! The covenantal conditions were the guidelines for His bride to prepare herself for Him and they had committed to do that as one before Him! It is significant that they answered in faith, choosing to trust and obey God before they even knew what He would ask them to do.
God was preparing them through the wilderness period to become His bride. This would be their time of preparation and testing. Of getting “Egypt” out of their systems and learning to trust their God on the way towards the promised land.
The land of Israel was the home He had chosen for His bride and the wedding chamber would be the holy of holies in the temple in Jerusalem.
God was a jealous God and asked His bride to serve Him with all their hearts, minds and souls. He chose them, even knowing that they would later turn away from Him and serve other Gods and so enter into idolatry (adultery). The consequences of that were spelt out in the marriage covenant (Mosaic covenant). Unfortunately, most of the nation did not pass the test and perished in the wilderness and He had to raise up a new generation to enter in.
The land of Israel was strategically placed in the centre of the ancient world, so that all the nations could witness this drama being played out before their eyes.
Israel has continued to be an example when she was obedient and blessed in the land as a consequence (Therefore hear, Oh Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you – a land flowing with milk and honey. — Deut 6:3) and also when she rebelled against her God and was punished and disciplined by God bringing her enemies against her, being conquered and thrust into exile. Deut 28 speaks about this in detail…v 58 – “ If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book…v64..”Then the Lord will scatter you among all the people, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you not your fathers have known”.
The Mosaic covenant spelt out the consequences of her obedience or disobedience in detail and also speaks of His promises of her restoration back to the land and finally back to her God, in the latter days — never to be sent into exile again!
The whole earth has witnessed God’s faithfulness to keep His word to these beloved people of His, throughout the ages.
The story of Israel is a practical demonstration of a spiritual God. He has also chosen us to be His special people, called us into a covenant relationship with Him to obey Him, according to His Word and led by His Spirit. We are also being prepared for our meeting with him!
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10, that we should learn the lessons from the example God gave us in Israel. V11 – “Now all these things happened to them as examples and they were for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
May we learn these lessons and ensure that all that Israel has gone through has not been in vain!