When did Israel become God’s Chosen People? How did that come about?
Before Israel was a nation, God dealt directly with all peoples of the world. From the time of Adam and Eve’s banishing from the Garden of Eden, the Lord was known by men and present in his affairs. From the point at which Seth had his son Enosh, Genesis 4:26 tells us:
At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
In mankind calling upon His Name, I think we can infer that there was a certain relational quality that God had with his creation. Men lived hundreds of years then. Because they were by necessity close to nature, God’s hidden attributes were clearly seen and understood. No one living had any excuses for spurning Him. (Romans 1:20) Yet, of course, many did because that’s the sin nature of man.
Much was happening in the spiritual realm during these early years. Satan had already shown his true colors in challenging the Word of God. There were others among the heavenly host who likewise – in their free will – chose to rebel against their Father who had created them. This is made clear in the Genesis 6:1-4 account. The sons of God (bene Elohim), undoubtedly egged on by Satan, saw that the daughters of man were attractive (Genesis 6:2). They transgressed their heavenly boundaries (Jude 6) and took as their wives any they chose. This union resulted in the corrupting of human flesh through the birth of hybrid beings known as Nephilim. Their subsequent actions on the earth resulted in this statement in Genesis 6:5
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
In other words, the fall of God’s sons, that led to the birth and worldwide spread of the Nephilim, caused great depravity. Mankind became exceedingly corrupt through the intermixing of species (human and divine, or human and partially divine). Men’s hearts became sinful beyond redemption, and the very fiber of their being, i.e. their DNA, was altered through this ungodly union. This resulted in the global condition that men were no longer fully human. It necessitated God acting to eliminate the evil that had become so pervasive. He brought the flood so as to start over with the only pure bloodline remaining on earth, that of righteous Noah.
Following the total destruction of the flood, through the instructions of God, man again procreated and increased in numbers. However, God’s command to Noah (the same as it had been to Adam and Eve) was to fill the earth (Genesis 9:7). Rather than obey, people migrated from the east [and] found a plain in the land of Shinar (Genesis 11:2).
In contradiction to God’s will, they built the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4). Why? So that they might make a name for themselves. How would they do this? They thought that in the building of the Tower, they could reach the heavens in order to bring God down and control Him. What better way to lift up themselves as self-exaltant, glorious, and mighty than to have God at their disposal? Interestingly, they knew they had to control Him in this way, otherwise they realized that they would be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.
These thoughts and actions caused God to do exactly what they feared. He dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth and confused the language of all the earth (Genesis 11:8-9).
Later in Isaiah the prophet reiterates what Yahweh has communicated to him. The Words were directed toward the nation of Israel, but the sentiment applies equally to the situation following the Tower incident in Babel. Isaiah 43:24 repeats God’s lament:
… But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.
The disobedience of men wearied God. To this point, He had been dealing with all of mankind. But, Babel became a turning point. We see the first part in Deuteronomy 32:8 – ESV:
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
Note that you must read this verse in the English Standard Version (ESV) translation in order to understand the sequence and the impact; it is a critical key to the entire Biblical narrative. Most other translations, rather than say he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God, instead say he set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the children [or sons] of Israel.
Of course, God never set Israel over nations like this; in fact, Israel didn’t even exist at that time, which will be our next point. No, Yahweh set His divine, loyal sons from the spiritual realm over the nations. His intent was that they superintendent the nations for the time being. Instead, they all rebelled and set themselves over those nations as their gods. It is from this rebellion that the gods, such as Baal, Molech, Chemosh, and so many others, arose. They were God’s rebellious sons. It is why all nations turned away from the One true God.
Why did Yahweh set his sons (remember, they were loyal at the time) over the nations? Probably a couple reasons. Men were unruly and disobedient. They burdened Him with their sins, and wearied Him with their iniquities, as noted earlier. It’s likely that He wanted a break from dealing with mankind as a whole. This then resulted in the statement in Deuteronomy 32:9:
But the Lord’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.
Following God’s placing His sons over the nations, He calls forth His people Jacob who will be His inheritance. In fact, Genesis 12:1 – immediately following the scattering of men into nations recounted in Genesis 11 – is when God calls Abram out of Ur:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”
This is the beginning – the genesis , if you will – of the nation of Israel called to be blessed and to bless the world. It is why in Isaiah 43:20-21 that God calls Israel:
… my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
As God’s Chosen People, He is not yet through with Israel. They have been and are a disobedient people, but God has not abandoned them. He has not forsaken His many promises to them. Do not be deceived by anyone who declares otherwise (and there are many!).
Although they are secular and far from the Lord today, He will redeem Israel. She will have to suffer much through the Tribulation to reach this point of redemption, but reach it she will. Her disobedience will result in only a remnant being saved. But the day will soon come as Zechariah 13:9 states:
“… They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
This is when Israel finally declares that Jesus is her Messiah. What a glorious day it will be!