Israel—A Light to the Nations

In God’s infinite wisdom, He has woven into the fabric of humanity a plan for the redemption of fallen man. We can see that by His divine election that He has preserved a seed that extends from Adam through Noah, Abraham, and King David, ultimately bringing forth the Messiah Yeshua, the stem and the root of Jesse, and the branch and arm of God.[i] But with Abraham, God made a covenant to create a nation that would become “one” with Him. To understand His purpose for humanity, we must look to Israel, for she is the only nation on earth to receive the direct revelation of God, and the only nation to be born of His Covenant.

And the Lord said: “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel” (Exodus 19:6, NKJV).[ii] “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6). These scriptures tell us that Israel was given a special calling and purpose in the world.

The word Israel itself is comprised of the Hebrew roots El and yashar. El is one of the sacred names of God, and yashar means to go straight.[iii] God’s promise of spiritual and material blessings would reveal the glory of God to all the nations, for Israel herself was chosen to be His bride. God would bestow upon her His full glory, and she would shine with His brightness in this dark world so that all those drawn to the light would come into her, as it is written, “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3).

For this, Israel serves as both a covenant and a light to the nations; a covenant likened as to a marriage, that Israel is God’s special treasure would be given to the nations as a gift, a bride, an eternal promise that she would be a blessing to every nation and fill the whole earth with fruit. It is important to ask ourselves: just how have the nations treated their bride, their gift from God?

More significant is that Israel would bring His salvation to the ends of the earth, for salvation is of the Jews.[iv] The Apostle Paul understood this when he said: “For so the Lord has commanded us [Paul and Barnabas]: ‘I HAVE SET YOU AS A LIGHT TO THE GENTILES, THAT YOU SHOULD BE FOR SALVATION TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH’” (Acts 13:47). This calling for Israel is irrevocable and without repentance.[v] It matters not what her current spiritual condition is, for God’s word will not return to Him void, and He will fulfill His purpose through her.[vi]

In the Abrahamic covenant, Israel’s promise was that of the land, a land that flowed with His blessings. God desired that she would not labor herself, but rather be sustained by Him so that she could remain close to his heart. “For he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

Israel was created for intimacy with the Father, and she was created to be His bride. “For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:5). And more, Israel was to receive God’s blessings and love, and not to covet these things selfishly, but to pour out her heart to the Lord and to open her heart to the nations. This so that all the nations would be reconciled to Himself through Israel.

In the book of Romans, Chapter 11, the Apostle Paul illustratively uses a cultivated Olive Tree to describe Israel, her relationship with God, and her calling to the nations. The root and trunk are Yeshua and is that which is connected to and holds all the branches. The natural branches, true Israel which is “one” with Yeshua for there was to be no distinction either genetically or spiritually between God and Israel, and the wild Olive trees, the Gentiles also translated nations which were to become “one” with Yeshua and Israel through the spiritual blessings given to Abraham.[vii]

The New Covenant was made exclusively with the nation of Israel,[viii] and yet the Gentiles become the recipients and partakers of the covenant blessings by joining themselves to the God of Israel and His people.[ix] The New Covenant is unconditional and remains as an unbreakable marriage between God and Israel. However, a blessing is not the same as a covenant. It is conditional and requires that we come into alignment with God’s will and purpose, namely that Israel would open her heart to her Messiah and become a covenant and light to the nations, and that the gentiles would intern join themselves to Israel as “one” people of God and “one new man” in Christ Yeshua.

This is the church; in Greek called the ecclesia and in Hebrew called the kahal. It is not a denomination or an ethnic group, but “one” people of God, a remnant saved and redeemed out of every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.[x] The church cannot replace Israel, for to the Jewish people were granted the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises.[xi] Those of the nations who join themselves to the God of Israel and His people not only come under the bond of His covenants but also receive His covenant blessings.

For it says, “the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, To minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, To be His servants, everyone who keeps from profaning the sabbath And holds fast My covenant; Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered” (Isaiah 56:6-8).

If Israel’s purpose was to become a kingdom of priests, ministering to the nations and ultimately bringing them into herself, and yet she divorced God and her calling, then God for this season, the time of the Gentiles, has Himself reached out to the nations and spiritually grafted them contrary to nature into His cultivated Olive Tree.[xii] “But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles” (Romans 11:11).

Where there were once dead branches, life from the dead has sprung forth. The gentiles have been brought forth from darkness into His marvelous light. If only the nations understood the sacrifice that God has made on their behalf; grafting them into a house that was not inherently for them?[xiii] If only they recognized their anointing and calling to provoke Israel to jealousy and bring God’s salvation to the Jewish people? And, could it be that the fullness of the gentiles requires the salvation of Israel, that the church will never experience its fullness until Israel is saved?[xiv]

God’s order and purposes will not change, for it says, “He will give glory, honor and peace to every man who works good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 2:10). There is yet fulfillment of Israel’s destiny; first to receive her material and spiritual blessings including all of the land of Israel, to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, and to pour her heart out to the Lord and the nations so that God would reconcile all to Himself.

“Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it” (Isaiah 2:2). “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:2-3).

The salvation of all nations was entrusted to Israel, and now for this season, the salvation of Israel has been entrusted to the nations. For it says: “Let the priests [the church], who minister to the LORD, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, "Spare Your people [Israel], O LORD, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them… Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, And pity His people” (Joel 2:17-18).

Let us walk in obedience and fulfill our destiny in the Lord together as One New Man, Jew, and gentile, provoking Israel to jealousy and bringing His message of salvation to the ends of the earth to finish the great commission.

[i] Isaiah 11:1, 11:10, 40:10.
[ii] All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Bible (NKJV) unless otherwise noted, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.
[iii] John 4:22.
[iv] Romans 11:29.
[v] Isaiah 55:11.
[vi] Genesis 22:18.
[vii] Jeremiah 31:31.
[viii] Genesis 35:11, Ephesians 3:6.
[ix] Revelation 5:9.
[x] Romans 9:3-5.
[xi] Romans 11:24.
[xii] Romans 11:12.
[xiii] Romans 11:25.