Someone asked me this week, “Wasn’t it unfair of God to choose the Old Testament nation of Israel?” Here is my answer:
1) God did not choose Israel because they were more righteous or better than anyone else – we can see this in Deuteronomy 9v1-6.
2) The reason God chose Israel was so that he might reveal himself (the Law, through Moses; his character, through the Covenants, and through his actions in saving Israel (e.g the Exodus)). It also prepared the way for the coming of his promised rescuer (or Messiah) – literally, in terms of him being physically descended from Israel, but also theologically, in terms of the categories that we would need in order to understand him – e.g. king, Passover lamb, etc.
3) God’s choosing of national Israel in the Old Testament does not necessarily mean that every Israelite was ‘saved’ and therefore ought not to be equated with the doctrine of election. It has always been God’s way that faith was necessary for salvation. In Romans 9v1-9, Paul is clear that not all Israel was saved – but rather only the true Israel within national Israel.
4) God has always had a concern for all nations. This is evident in his promise of blessing to the nations made to Abraham in Genesis 12v3. The purpose of choosing national Israel in the Old Testament was to bring this blessing about. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of the Messiah – the seed of Abraham, who would truly bless the nations as God intended.