What does the Church think of Israel?
A Kingdom of Priests. We must keep reminding ourselves of this. However badly they behaved and however un-priestlike their actions were, the Children of Israel couldn't escape their destiny. But God knew that, as much as He wanted his people to succeed, most wouldn't. Yet His holy nation had to endure, for His plans to come to pass. Central to His plan was the original promise given to Abraham.
"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."
For this blessing to take place, a descendant of Abraham was to come onto the scene at some future date. He was spoken of by the patriarch, Jacob, just before his death, when he blessed each of his sons in turn. His special blessing was to his fourth born son, Judah, from whom we get the name Jew.
"The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his." (Genesis 49:10)
The children of Israel were going to be sifted and God was going to be ruthless both in preserving the family of Judah and discarding others who had the misfortune of being born in the wrong family. It might sound cruel to our sense of fairness but it is God's way. It's called the mystery of election which is, simply put, the fact that God chooses whom He chooses for His purposes. He doesn't choose those who attract his eye or who please Him, rather He chooses first and it's an added bonus for Him if, subsequently, they do manage to please Him. Abraham certainly pleased Him, though it's hard to see God receiving much joy from Jacob. But he loved them both on the basis of His divine choice. The mystery of election dictated that a future ruler of Israel, who will have the obedience of the nations, will come from the family of Judah - the Jewish family.
So it is no surprise that God's sifting process would begin as early in the life of the new nation being forged in the Promised Land as at the time of the first King, Saul. When he was mustering an army against the Ammonites, it was reported that the men of Israel numbered 300,000 and the men of Judah numbered 30,000.
Already Judah was being set apart from the other tribes, who were lumped together as Israel. Remember this was many years before the time of David, Solomon and the time of the splitting of the country into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. But I am getting ahead of myself ...
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book Outcast Nation)