Scripture makes it quite obvious that God cherishes the carriers of His covenant. At long last, He had found one suitable to invest His interests, and He wasn’t going to let His seed be destroyed, especially by Satan, the primary enemy of His plan. Therefore, God’s strong hand of judgment throughout the Old Covenant was not pointless destruction but a Father protecting and nurturing His seed. Deuteronomy beautifully describes the focused attention Yahweh paid to his prized possession, Israel.
Deuteronomy 32:8-13 – KJV
“…8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. 9 For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. 10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: 12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. 13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; “
God was truly with Israel as their provider and especially their protector. He guarded them closely, because they carried the seed of humanity’s destiny. If the Lord didn’t preserve Israel, Abraham’s seed of faith would have been wasted, all of mankind would have remained enslaved victims of wickedness. During the Old Testament time period, foreigners and opponents of Israel were unable to even consider that their attacks against the Israelites were virtually attacks on their own future. But the Lord’s aggressive nature basically prevented the human race from virtual self-destruction. Our future and the Salvation that would come depended on the survival of Israel.
No one understood God’s apparent favoritism of the Hebrews during the Old Testament period, it was obvious that they were aided by a superior, higher authority, but most Gentiles were completely unaware. Many rulers tried but failed to to fully annihilate the resilient, Hebrew people, and this produced an extraordinary benefit that only God could anticipate; Israel’s preferential treatment created a jealousy from non-Hebrew nations who couldn’t destroy them. The ultimate goal was to create a curiosity and desire in the Gentiles that they would desire the God of Israel. Of course, the adverse effect was that God’s elect nation was always subject to attack. In one particular biblical incident, the Philistines were incredibly afraid of Israel and stole their ark possibly in an attempt to steal the mysterious power of their “gods.”
*1 Samuel 4:5-11
5And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 6And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp. 7And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 8Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 9Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.
10And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 11And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.*
Every Gentile nation wanted whatever power Israel possessed, even if it meant killing them to get it. The disadvantage of being chosen is becoming the target of hatred and jealousy.
Thanks to Abraham, Israel was the chosen incubator of divine promise. The revelation is that they carried a covenant even before they carried the Ark of the Covenant, and the Lord was with them. They were delivered from Egypt and led on a journey through the wilderness to discover the land promised to Abraham. Even more so, they were called, spiritually, to follow a lightened path through the wilderness and lead many nations into destiny with their eternal Father. Collectively, they weren’t perfect, but the faith of a remnant among them was enough to deliver Jesus to the rest of the world.
21And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
As with Abraham’s representation of the Father, Israel’s trek through the desert symbolized something greater than themselves, and much can be extracted from the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. In fact, it’s no coincidence that water led them during the Day and fire by night. Firstly, many deserts are hot in the day but cold at night. So it’s possible that the cloud utilized to lead them could have also been used to comfort them in the desert heat and cold. It’s plausible, considering that the cloud represents the Holy Spirit who is referred to as our comforter [John 16:7].
There is also another interesting aspect. If the earlier Old Covenant is likened to the “day season” of human existence, then it is only fitting that a pillar of cloud (water) is utilized to represent God’s word and law which identified the chosen children of Israel. Then, as the sun sets into the night season or New Covenant age of God’s plan for mankind, the fire of the Holy Spirit is then used to guide, empower and mark those who are spiritual children of God. The same cloud of water and pillar of fire that physically led the Israelites into liberty would later send followers of Christ out to preach about it. Israel was truly led through the wilderness by the Spirit of God to fulfill the call of God upon their nation. The divine symbolism of the cloud that lead Israel’s path through the wilderness was just one of many parallels intended to reveal the path of all God’s people to His eternal Kingdom.
So, the real question is this: If Israel was called to physically portray the workings of God’s spiritual plan in the earth, is it their calling still? If their promise was to prosper and to lead, are they suddenly destined to fail and get left behind? The answer is an emphatic, no.
Romans 11:28-29 – NASB
“28From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
This scripture is often misinterpreted to say that unrepentant souls can misuse the Holy Spirit. It actually means that from within an initial lineage or group of chosen, covenant carriers, God will finish what He started and deliver what He promised. God has not used His beloved Hebrews only to dispose of them. For our sakes and for the sake of the Gentile nations, God favored them that we might covet His power, His provision and His protection.
Furthermore, for the sake of their fathers, namely Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Israel’s gifts and their calling cannot be reversed, in spite of their mistakes. As far as God is concerned, He will wait for a chosen few to emerge from among the called that His purpose might remain with Jacob—Israel. He waits—and will continue to wait—for their ground to be conducive for the seed of their purpose to spring forth.
It took hundreds of years, this is why Jesus ultimately had to come through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is why He is the Root of David and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. [Revelation 5:1-6]. He was the Seed awaiting its season to spring forth.
14For many are called, but few are chosen.
Many of the Hebrews missed their opportunity to participate on the benefitting side of Abraham’s covenant; these were called. A few walked in faith and obedience and were used to showcase the power of God; these were the chosen.
The cloud of fire sill leads us all on our sojourn through the temporal wilderness, and God has still not forgotten or abandoned His elect people. Even though many of them continue to deny that Jesus has already come, there are those who have not bowed their knee to Baal, and they will fulfill God’s purpose in them. So, let us not make the same mistake that Elijah did. Paul understood.
*Romans 11:1-5; 24-27 (ESV)
“1I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham,a a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. …. 24For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.25Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers:d a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27“and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”*
So, God used them (the original olive branch), to provoke us (the wild olive branch) to jealousy, and He is now using us to provoke the remaining Jews to return in due season. Yahweh is infinitely better at fathering His creation than any other god, and it is a good thing to envy it. When all is said and done, both Jews and Gentiles will have experienced His great grace and mercy. In eternity, we will be united in our knowledge that the Lord is good and the gods of this world could never compare. The Gentiles are currently in their period of grace, but Paul’s prayer is an expression of God’s heart that all of Israel will be saved—it will certainly come to pass. The word never claims that blasphemous or unbelieving Jews will enter the kingdom against their own will, but God has not abandoned His call for their nation to lead the way. He knows how to draw them back to Himself at the conclusion of the Gentiles’ season.
Israel suffered opposition because of her spiritual purpose and her natural attackers were ignorant of that purpose. Today, Israel continues to experience unwarranted hostility from others ignorant of their spiritual function. If Israel’s spiritual purpose were complete, then their existence would be inconsequential, and their protection irrelevant. However, the tumultuous history which has followed the resurrection of Jesus suggests that God is still using the Jews. Don’t make Elijah’s mistake of counting their current condition against them. There are a number who are being reserved for the fulfillment of a promise. The extent of their remaining purpose may not be fully known, but it is certainly not gone. As we move forward, we will discover why the calling of Israel remains alive. We will see how the actions of Israel speak to other nations. Most of all, we will see how the condition and position of Israel continues to prophesy until the deliverance of all mankind, holding the key to the conclusion of the age of man.