Did God Choose Israel and Not the Other Nations? 

By Dr. Mark Bailey – BSF Board Member

One of my greatest joys during the past 35 years has been leading Bible study tours to Israel. Each group is unique. Some are students, others are professors, many have been BSF members. However, one common thread links them all — their deep emotional response.  

There is a profound spiritual impact that comes from standing on the sites where Scripture took place. Passages once read in black and white become full-color memories. Israel is the land where God commissioned a small, insignificant group of people to change the world for eternity. 

God referred to Israel as “His people” (Deuteronomy 7:6); His “treasured possession” (Psalm 135:4), and even the “apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8). 

From Deuteronomy 7:6-10, we know that God did not choose Israel because they were strong or mighty. In fact, God chose Israel when they were small and weak, a people without a land.  

Beginning with a single man, Abraham, God built a powerful nation. In Genesis 12:2-3, God promised, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 

They were chosen and blessed by God, not only for their own sake, but to be a blessing to all nations, for all time. God’s plan for Israel stretched beyond their borders. Let me highlight three major ways God has blessed the world through His people Israel.

Light to the nations

In a world darkened by sin and chaos, God chose Israel to be a light to the nations. They were called to be a kingdom of priests who were to reflect God’s character to all nations. Through Israel, neighboring peoples or nations discovered what obedience to God would bring and also what would follow as a result of their disobedience. God chose Israel to be a people who would showcase both His redeeming grace and righteous judgment. 

In Isaiah 42:6-7, God revealed His character in this declaration to Israel: “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” 

And again, in Isaiah 49:6, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

For generations, Israel recognized this burden and prayed accordingly. 

Solomon petitioned God to hear the prayers of immigrants within Israel’s border so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel” (1 Kings 8:43). 

The Psalm writers prayed that: 

“… all the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD” (22:27). 

 “… your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations” (67:2). 

“… all nations be blessed” (72:17).  

God implemented His saving activity through Israel to transform them. They became His servants to deliver Good News to the world for the salvation of all. The mission of God has always been for the world to know Him as God.  

One commentator writes, “God wanted a ‘flagship’ nation that was an example to the world – not of how they behave, but of how He behaves.” 

Stewards of God’s Truth

As part of His blessing, God gave Israel a gift. They were “entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:2). 

The Psalmist wrote, God “has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation” (Psalm 147:19-20).  

Highlighting God’s blessing for Israel, Paul wrote, ““Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Romans 9:4-5). 

But once again, this gift was not for Israel alone. 

As stewards of God’s Truth, Israel was given the privilege of guarding God’s Word and sharing it with the nations. 

The blessing extends to us today. Through the Jewish Scriptures — the law, the promises, and the patriarchs — God pointed the world to Jesus the Messiah (Luke 24:44). God entrusted Israel with the very foundation of Christianity. 

Line of the Messiah

As the ultimate mark of His blessing, God chose Israel to be the human line of the Messiah. Through the Old Testament, we read detailed prophecy, down to the Messiah’s birthplace and gender, that confirm Jesus as the promised Savior. Beginning with Abraham, Jesus’ genealogy can be traced through the Jewish nation, the tribe of Judah, and narrowed to the family of David. 

Through the miracle of the virgin birth, God fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23). At just the right time, He delivered humanity from the curse of sin though Jesus’ substitutionary death (Galatians 4:4).   

Once more, the world was blessed through God’s blessing to Israel. While salvation comes through a Jewish Messiah, the Bible makes it clear He is also the Savior for the whole world (John 4:42).  

Starting back in Genesis 12:2-3, we see how God kept His promise to Abraham. Throughout their history, Israel did not earn God’s favor; they certainly did not always deserve it. God bestowed His blessing freely, and through that blessing we are blessed.  

When we wonder, “Did God choose Israel and not the other nations?” we can answer that God chose Israel “for” the other nations. Through a single people, God reflected His character and delivered His Word to the world. And by keeping an ancient promise, He extended salvation to all people for all time.  

When I travel to Israel with a group, I know they will feel deeply connected to the land of Abraham’s promise, because through that promise, we discover eternal hope in Jesus. 

More in this series: 

Why Does God Judge People He Loves?

New vs. Old Testament: Is God the Same?

Coming Soon

Dr. Mark L. Bailey

BSF Board Member

Dr. Mark L. Bailey is the Chancellor and Senior Professor of Bible exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, He has served at DTS for 37 years. Prior to assuming the seminary’s presidency, Dr. Bailey served as professor of Bible Exposition and vice president of academic affairs. He pastored churches in Arizona and Texas. He was seminar instructor for the Walk Thru the Bible Ministries for 20 years and is in currently in demand for Bible conferences and other preaching engagements. He is married to his wife, Barby, and they have two married sons and six grandchildren.

 

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96 Comments

  1. can these blogs be on audio as well?

    Reply
    • Hi Stephanie! Thank you for your comment. We do not have blogs available on audio at this time, but you can find audio notes and lectures on the BSF app!

      Reply
  2. Hello… I’m looking forward to more blogs from Dr. Bailey. Blessings, Sherry

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  3. Thank you, Pastor for answering my question….Why did God choose Israel and not the other nations? And yes, through Israel , the world has been blessed for the reasons you mentioned. However, I believe there is another reason. Although I can’t explain it as well as you did, I believe it has something to do with the “HEART” of the Jewish People as a nation. I Samuel 16:7b,,,for the Lord looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” Keep answering the hard questions.

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    • I thoroughly enjoyed reading why
      God chose Israel as His people. Deuteronomy 29:29 says the mysteries of God belong to God. I accept His word as definitive. I receive His Word as absolute. So I don’t question what or why God does what He does. He is sovereign

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  4. I so love studying the OT and seeing the attributes of God so clearly revealed as He communicates through His chosen people – a message extended to the rest of the world as we are grafted into the family of God.

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  5. I truly enjoyed “Did God choose Israel and not the other Nations”. It makes clear the fact that they were to teach others about God, not just a favorite people. I would love to read other article written by Dr. Bailey. Really don’t know how I got this.

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  6. Thank you so much, Dr. Bailey, for your commitment to the accuracy of the word of God and your ability to share it with others. You are a blessing.

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  7. God chose Israel , That through them He himself would come in the flesh to bring salvation to the whole world. Thus the whole world was chosen John 3:16, sadly people chose to reject this great gift of God and miss his awesome presence and love along with all the benefits offered through His promises.

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  8. Thanks for the information. This have answer my question about Israel. About Israel being chosen or or God favorite. This information was very knowledgeable &wise.

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  9. Israel a flagship nation chosen by God to be the steward to deliver His truth and character.
    How God chooses Israel again on the principle of the weak to confront the strong is amazing.
    A very informative and relevant truth based on God’s promises

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  10. Thank you Dr. Bailey for this clear examination of this question. The irony and great tragedy of history is the extreme prejudice and persecution the Jewish people have suffered at the hands of so called Christians since the time of Christ, a Jew himself.

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    • I don’t understand how or why people mistreat Jews. They are God’s chosen people. I pray for the Jews and all people, even the ones who hate me. I know I can’t go to heaven hating his creation. Please try to love us all.

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  11. This is indeed perspective changing!

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  12. Thank you for this great knowledge about God’s promises to all nations through Israel and the proof of God who does not show favouritism but out of love and grace Israel was set apart for our good

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  13. Why are so many preachers teaching Replacement theology now?

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  14. Question: why God allows bad things happen? The earth is his and all that is in. God is all knowing but why

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    • Vivian – thank you for sharing!

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  15. Dr. Bailey, What a gift for me to read the truth about God’s choice of His people Israel from you as a Board member of BSF. When I was asked to be a group discussion facilitator, my first question was where is BSF on Israel and who are the theologians involved with the study? Though my husband & I had studied for many years with BSF before moving to Israel in 1998, I was reluctant to reinvest in BSF because of the culture pressures and biblical compromises we experienced upon our return to the States after living, working, and studying in Jerusalem for 5 years. Churches seemed so unfamiliar with the truth of God’s revelation through the Original Testament and were often immersed in replacement theology, anti-Semitism, and lack of prayer for the Jewish people. God chose Israel “for” the other nations and to this day He continues in that covenant of love for His treasured possession. Without the Jewish people and the Hebrew Scriptures I would never have known the depth of the Father’s love. I had known the depth of Jesus’s love through His faithful ministry of grace and truth, but the whole counsel of God taught me and continues to teach me how to live daily in fresh awareness and obedience through the study and application of His Word.

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  16. God is omniscient; therefore, he knew in advance that His “chosen people” would be the same ones who called for Jesus to be crucified. How do I give a rational explanation to a non-believer?

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  17. Having been born 10 years after the Holocaust, in a Jewish family, I had never thought of Israel as being much favored. Kids used to call me “Julie the Jew” in elementary school. When I was about 6 this kid came up to me, pointed to his Crucifix and said “You did this!” I was frightened. I didn’t even know what a Crucifix was. Once a friend told me I couldn’t come back to his house because his mother found out I was Jewish. It was very painful. I was just a little kid. As I got older I used my humor like when they would ask me if I had horns. I never said anything to my parents. I would like to say that it stopped when I became an adult. I still get asked ridiculous questions, i.e. “Is it true that all Jews have small earlobes?” I never wear my Star of David, or Mazuzah in public. An acquaintance, years ago, would always introduce me as “This is Julie, my Jewish friend.” What I wanted her to say was “This is Julie, my friend.”

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    • I’m so very sorry for the bias and pain you’ve experienced, especially from Christians. Jesus was Jewish too. He said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18
      God loves you!

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      • Julie, I am so sorry for the pain you have endured. And very sorry every Christian that met you did not thank you for being Jewish. Without you no one in the world would ever know the one true living God of the Bible. You are the archaeological evidence that there is a living God who speaks and acts and performs miracles. Without you we would have no ancient stories or rituals or reminders through fests and festivals that there is a God to even depict the heart, the truth, the compassion, and the judgement of God. We would have no understanding of faith, love, covenant, sin, forgiveness, or atonement. You gave us all the words and stories of God. You Julie, your heritage, your history, and even your pain. God sees, He knows, He grieves with you. I wear a star of David as a Christian, and a menorah, and have prayed with the Jewish people in synagogues because the Jewish people gave me and still gives me so much. And God cared enough about the Gentiles to become a man to show us the very face of God in Jesus, who is Jewish. God loves His people, and is grieved at the sins of those who do not yet know Him. I grieve too. I cannot take away your painful memories, but Jesus can, wants, to, and will if you ask. He does not take away your Jewishness only brings a depth of an understanding to it, and turns your ashes into beauty. He is your Shalom!

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    • I am so sorry for your difficult experiences. This should never happen to any of God’s beautiful children! You are designed with a purpose and so much mire loved then you can imagine by God our Father. True Christ followers would not have treated you like this. I pray they have changed by now and that you can be healed of those hurtful times.🙏💕

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    • Dearest Julie,
      If you were my friend, I would introduce you as my friend, not Jewish friend. It hurts my heart to read of comments that you endured.
      Blessings to you, my friend Julie

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  18. Thankyou for explaining so simplicity the blessings of Israel’s connection to Jesus Christ. I am 79 and my one desire is to visit the land of my Savior. Your connectedness to the Bible and the country of Israel makes this a touch of The Master tonite as I read this!

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  19. Dr. Bailey,
    I truly enjoy your writings! I was blessed to tour Israel in 1997, and your statement: “There is a profound spiritual impact that comes from standing on the sites where Scripture took place. Passages once read in black and white become full-color memories.” describes my feelings exactly, which I have expressed many times in describing my experience in similar terms. I look forward to reading more of your writings which illuminate the scriptures so well.

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  20. On the other hand, He makes it clear that He defines how WE must approach Him — beginning with repentance at the baptism of John — in order to grow into the fullest possible relationship with The Father & His Son. Jas. 4.6,7. KJV

    After the flood, He allowed a few hundred years for mankind to see what men will do on their own. Just 3 generations after the Flood came a ruler named Nimrod, building cities with a central building project. It wasn’t until 7 generations later that God established in Abraham righteous faith, building nothing on his own (Ps. 127.1 KJV), rather than man’s religious and political endeavors. His “chosen” people are also His chosen ensamples (1 Cor. 10.11 KJV), both in righteousness and in unrighteousness…

    Reply
  21. Thank you so much for sending this out to us.I think it’s wonderful that Dr. L. Mark Bailey has written this blog. I hope that you can relay to him that I enjoyed it tremendously. It’s wonderful to be able to read it again and again whenever I want. Please convey my thanks to him if that’s possible. ✝️

    . ✝️

    Reply
  22. ” God chose Israel because they’re small, weak & without land”. Are there any nations in the globe that suffers the same, small, weak & no land? Why just Israel? God can also choose other nations, do His purpose what He intended for Israel to do.
    I don’t fully understand what’s going on to Israelites & Palestinians at the present time. I think because Isreal is God’s chosen nation, it got to the heads of the Israelites, that they can do whatever they want, like invading neighboring nation. As a kid, my nanny who is illiterate, told me, Jews are usurpers. As an adult, I thought that’s why most Jews are rich people. Maybe because of that, comes a lot of anti-semitism?

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  23. Thank you Dr Bailey! I have been blessed by your words before and now I am blessed again.
    I just returned from Israel two days ago and saw a BSF bus there on tour at a hotel on the Sea of Galilee.
    It is awesome to go to this little land where God touched down to show us His grace and truth (John 1:17) through His Son, Jesus Christ!
    All His earthly life Jesus knew
    what His earthly end would be and yet He walked steadfastly to the cross and completed the purpose for which He had come! God’s judgment fell on Him so we might
    be spared by taking refuge in Him
    by faith.
    II Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
    “Jesus don’t let me forget what you went through for me,
    Nor the love Lord that You showed in dying upon the tree;
    If my heart should ever grow cold then Jesus remind me,
    Of the pain Lord that You bore on Calvary.

    You submitted yourself to the cross though it should have been me,
    You who knew no sin were made sin that you might cleanse me;
    Oh what measure of love made you go, I think Jesus will never know,
    Until heaven is finally our home
    and we clearly see thee.

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  24. Praise God for the life of Dr. Bailey! An the others who like him, help us understand God’s Word more & whose life witness inspires us to walk in God’s ways!!!

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  25. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and understanding so that we may know Him and His ways better.

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  26. What are your thoughts on the meaning of Deuteronomy 32:7-9?

    Some, including Michael Heiser, think this is God sending lesser spiritual beings from the heavenly realm to watch over other nations but Israel he chose for himself. That thought doesn’t contradict the fact that Israel was to show the glory of YHWH to the other nations.

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    • Excellent question! We will send it to Dr. Bailey

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  27. God’s omniscient & infinity is beyond my
    humanness , yet He reach out to my finite world through His Son Jesus Christ.

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  28. Thank you Mark. That’s a very clear explanation and overview.

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  29. Can you tell me more about your Bible study tours to Israel? I would love to join an historical, not just a religious one, tour of Israel. Thanks

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  30. The Isaiah 42 and 49 passages quoted above are clearly about the Messiah, not the nation of Israel. How could Israel be tasked with restoring itself?

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    • Mike – thank you for asking! We will forward your question to Dr Bailey

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  31. I was taught that Isaiah 42:6-7 and Isaiah 49:6 refer to Messiah; is this incorrect, or is there a sense in which they refer both to the nation of Israel and to Messiah?

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    • Agnes- thank you for asking! We will forward your question to Dr Bailey

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  32. Thank you for answering the question I asked our first week of this current study.
    Just one more question-why do Jews not recognize Jesus Christ? Have they been blinded?

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    • I also felt that awe while traveling through Israel to visit biblical sites. I stood on ground where David engaged Saul, where Elijah brought fire down from heaven etc. even the highways had signs directing motorists to ancient cities mentioned in the Bible The past and present became one.

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    • If I may presume to assist, try Romans Chapter 11…Joel

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  33. Thanks you for all the time and work you put into BSF. I have found BSF to be the most profound Bible study that I have studied in my life of 74 years. It has been moving and impactful in my life.
    Thank you

    Reply
  34. Can you tell me more about your Bible study tours to Israel

    Thank you
    Martha

    Reply
  35. Comment on Replacement Theology. Even though a P.K. until about 3 years a retired Southern Baptist missionary said Do not support the Israels, they lost God’s favor with disobeying God so many times. and told me about Replacement Theology. They can become a christian thru Jesus, but lost their gift of covenant and land.

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    • Does God forget his promises?

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      • NEVER! He is God

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    • Israel has been a nation of dry bones for about 2,500 years. But, take a look at Ezekiel 37. His promise to Abraham has a parenthetical period for the Gentiles; but, has not become null and void.

      Reply

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