Why Did God Choose Israel Out Of All The Other Nations?


Why God chose Israel out of all the nations perhaps seems to have been a bad choice, at least, from where we are now standing. After all, we are able to read the inspired record of the nation of Israel’s repeated disobedience and persistent stubbornness, to say nothing of her appalling ingratitude, in the light of the innumerable blessings which God showered upon her, and the many deliverance’s he effected for her.

Indeed, the Psalmist admitted that God had treated them in a unique fashion.

‘He has not dealt thus with any other nation.’ Psalm 147:19

The question, therefore, is a pertinent one.  It was put in a different way by William Norman Ewer, who wrote, “How odd Of God, To choose The Jews.”

This, amusingly enough, provoked a pointed response from Cecil Brown, who replied, “But not so odd As those who choose A Jewish God, But spurn the Jews.”

So, why did  God choose the Jews?

1. Was it because they were racially superior to other nations?

‘The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.’ Ezekiel 16:1-5

When we read the first five verses of this chapter, although, you will notice that the entire chapter is a startling revelation of how God felt about the people whom He chose for Himself.

In those verses, you will see that there was nothing about the nation itself which made it compellingly attractive to God. On the contrary, He declared that the nation had been abandoned and ‘exposed’, left to die, in the way in which some ancient races disposed of unwanted babies.

Whilst, even today, many Jews undoubtedly regard themselves as ethnically superior to other people, it must surely have been painful for them, almost 600 BC, to hear this assessment of them from God, delivered by the prophet Ezekiel, especially when he dismissed their illusion of racial purity and supremacy with the following words.

‘Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.’ Ezekiel 16:3

And consider how it must have pained them to be told the following.

‘Your eldest sister is SAMARIA. To the north of you and your younger sister to the south of you is SODOM with her daughters’. Ezekiel 16:46

We all know how they felt about those northerly neighbours, the Samaritans! Indeed, a statement like this would do very little for the ego of any modern Jew, were it to be pointed out to him!

After all, the Amorites were not descendants of Shem, Noah’s eldest son and bear in mind that it was Shem whom the Jews regard as their ancient ancestor.

The Amorites came from Canaan, the son of Ham, Genesis 10:16. And Genesis 9:20-27 records the shameful manner in which Canaan behaved, and the prophecy, which God issues concerning his future. The Hittites, too, were Canaanites, through Canaan’s second son, Heth, as we see from Genesis 10:15 and 1 Chronicles 1:13.

Put all of this together and this is the picture of Israel, that the Old Testament presents. Originating in Mesopotamia, father and mother, an Amorite and a Hittite and sisters, Samaria and Sodom. Not a very distinguished pedigree, to be sure!

This being the case, any special treatment Israel received from God was not bestowed on the basis of merit, and we may safely say that racial superiority was not in the mind of God when He chose Israel.

2. Was it because the Jews had distinguished themselves by their accomplishments, or their numerical, material, political or military powers?

That is, were they chosen because they were able to advance the purposes of God through their national greatness? Was it because they were such a great nation?

We are all aware, I am sure, that the world’s history is full of accounts, which record how great and powerful nations have imposed themselves on others.

Empires were built that way! But, the nation of Israel never really achieved such stature, even taking into consideration the greatness of David’s kingdom or the wealth of the kingdom of Solomon.

The Kings of Israel and Judas always remained rulers over very small territories. Place them both together and, in extent, they were no larger than one of the smaller States! Nor did they ever establish empires, like nations both before and after them.

3. Were they chosen, then, because they were morally and spiritually superior to other nations?

Well! Moses apparently did not think so! He warned them that when they entered the Promised Land and occupied the cities of ‘nations greater and mightier than yourselves’, they must not say, ‘it is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me to possess this land,’ Deuteronomy 9:4.

Even a casual reading of Israel’s history reveals that they were not as advanced as many of the peoples they conquered. The outspoken denunciations of their wickedness delivered by the prophets dispel any notion that Israel was in any way better than the nations around them.

And, shortly after being made leader of the nation, on the death of Moses, Joshua made a statement, which must have had a devastating effect on any religious pride the people may have had.

‘Your fathers lived of old beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods’. Joshua 24:2

So why was chosen out of all the other nations?

The simple answer is because God always keeps His promise!

‘I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth’. Genesis 13:16

We have to go back to the above passage, where, for the first time, He made a promise to Abram, as he was then called. That promise was the first of seven promises which God made to Abram the Hebrew, and it was later amplified and explained in the following words.

‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves because of him?’ Genesis 18:17-18

This is the promise to which Paul refers.

“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed”. Galatians 3:8

There we find the answer to our question! It was God’s purpose to bring salvation to mankind. Not to the Jews alone, but also the non-Jews. That purpose involved bringing His only-begotten Son into the world. To accomplish the purpose, God chose a man, Abraham. And from him, God produced a nation, Israel.

From that nation, He chose a Tribe, the tribe of Judah. Out of Judah, He chose a House, the House of David. And then, when the time had fully come, a baby was miraculously born in Bethlehem, a baby who was Immanuel, ‘God with us’ and whose name was Jehoshua, Jesus, which means, ‘Yahweh is salvation’.

The entire progress of Israel’s history reveals God’s purpose being worked out in spite of human frailty and human sinfulness.

Had He had chosen to use any other nation the story would have recorded a similar catalogue of shortcomings on Man’s part.

What produced the Plan of Salvation was the Sovereignty of God, which over-ruled and could ‘turn the wrath of men to His glory’.