One of the questions that people often ask about the Bible is, “Why did God choose the nation of Israel to be His special people?” Up until Genesis chapter 12, we find God dealing with mankind as a whole. What led God to select one man, Abraham, from the midst of many nations, to be the progenitor or father of one nation, Israel, and then begin to deal with them almost exclusively?
The answer to this question can be seen in looking at Satan’s three major attacks against the promised Seed of the woman. We see an immediate attack within the family of Adam, as Satan leads Cain to kill his brother, Abel. In Cain’s descendants we see the beginnings of a people and a civilization which “went out from the presence of the Lord” and sought to satisfy their own fleshly desires. The Lord overruled Satan’s attack and raised up another seed, Seth, to take the place of Abel.
During the days of Noah, we see Satan at work again in instigating the intermarriage of the ungodly descendants of Cain with the godly line of Seth. The result was a corruption of almost all flesh upon the earth and a world that was filled with violence. Once again, God’s promises and purposes did not fail. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah did what was right in the sight of the Lord. His lineage was without blemish, meaning that he and his family did not intermarry with the ungodly line of Cain. Hence, God preserved mankind through Noah’s family.
Although Noah and his family believed God and were preserved through the flood (Heb. 11:7), they began, almost immediately, to follow their own fleshly desires (Gen. 9:20-25). The Gentile world, or the nations which were descended from Noah’s sons following the flood, are listed in Genesis 10, but their true characteristics are found in Romans 1:21-32.
- Pride in Human Reasoning (vs. 21-22). They knew God, but did not glorify Him as God. They became futile in their reasonings/thoughts. Their hearts were darkened. They professed themselves to be wise, but they became fools. This same philosophy has existed throughout history and is known today as secular humanism.
- Idol Worship (vs. 23-25). They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image like corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. They exchanged the truth of God for the lie (of Satan) and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator. This is the same type of religious worship commonly referred to today as the “New Age” movement.
- Unnatural Sexuality (vs. 26-27). They changed God’s natural plan and purpose for marriage between men and women (Gen. 2:21-25) and committed shameful acts with one another: women with vile passions toward other women, and men burning in their lust for other men. Homosexuality is a blatant disregard for God’s design for marriage and family and it is becoming more and more prevalent in our society today.
- Turning from God to Evil (vs. 28-32). They did not like to retain God in their knowledge and thus became filled with unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, etc. They actually became haters of God. They knew the righteous judgment of God, but continued in their wicked practices and encouraged these practices in others. This type of ungodliness is certainly characteristic of the perilous times we are living in today (II Tim. 3:1-9).
The culmination of the Gentile world came with Satan’s attack upon the promised Seed in attempting to unite the whole world and turn them against God. This was accomplished through Nimrod and the building of the tower of Babel. The result was that God condemned the Gentile world, confused their language, and scattered them upon the face of the earth.
Out of this ungodly Gentile world, God selected one of its own children, a man named Abram, to continue to carry out His plan and purpose to bring the promised Redeemer, the Seed of the woman, into the world. When God called Abram, he dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees (which was probably very near the area where the tower of Babel was built). We read in Joshua 24:2 that Abram and his family “served other gods.” They were idol worshipers, just as the people who were building the tower of Babel. Why, then, did God choose Abram? It wasn’t because of his lifestyle. It was because of his faith (Heb. 11:8, 17). When Abram heard God’s Word and received God’s call, he believed God and obeyed His command. This is exactly what Paul meant in Romans 10:17 when he wrote,
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
God’s Parting of Abram
We read in Genesis 12:1-3 of God’s call of Abram while he still dwelt in the land of Mesopotamia (cf. Acts 7:2).
“Now the LORD had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1)
God separated Abram from idol worshipers. He was told to get out of his country, which worshipped idols. He was told to leave his kindred, who worshipped idols. He was told to leave his father’s house, where idols were worshipped (Josh. 24:2). God chose Abram in order to separate a people for His own purposes.
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:2-3)
God’s Purpose in Abram
God chose Abram to be the father of a new nation, Israel. It was through Abram’s seed and this new nation that the promised Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15) was to be brought into the world. This is clear from Romans 9:4-5,
“Who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
God selected Abram to father a nation which He would separate from the Gentile nations (Exo. 33:16) and would purify for His own special purpose (Deut. 14:2)—to bring the Lord Jesus Christ into the world (Gal. 3:16).
God’s Promises to Abram
God promised to make Abram a great nation (i.e. Israel), to bless Abram, to make his name great, to make him a blessing to others, and to bless all families of the earth through him and his Seed (i.e. Christ). We find in Genesis 12:7, that once Abram had departed from his homeland and come into the land that God showed him, then God promised to give that land (i.e. Canaan) to Abram’s seed or descendants.
Because of the ungodliness of the Gentile world, God chose one nation, Israel, to be His special people. He separated them from all other nations to accomplish His great purpose of redemption through the promised Seed, Christ.