The nation of Israel is unique in the role God chose for it. In the creation there was Adam, and then there was Noah who survived the Flood. From Noah’s child, Shem, came a family out of which was born a man named Abram (Abraham). He was called by God to journey to a foreign land, which is now Palestine. God said to him, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). From Abraham came Isaac and then Jacob, later called “Israel.” From Jacob came 12 sons whose families became the 12 tribes comprising the nation of Israel.
To this nation was given the revelation of God, His nature, His laws and His history. Israel was entrusted with the Bible, and because of these people all the nations of the earth have been blessed.
But the greatest blessing by far that was entrusted to Israel was the bringing forth of the Messiah who would die for the sins of mankind, to restore man to the fellowship with God that he lost at the Fall. For 2,000 years, the children of Abraham were sheltered, set apart from the nations and instructed in the ways of God. Then in what the Bible calls “the fullness of time,” God sent to the Jewish people Jesus of Nazareth, who was the Messiah or “anointed one” — the Christ (see Galatians 4:4). The message of His coming, His death and His resurrection has been the true means whereby all the nations of the world have been blessed.
The people of Israel are still precious to God. The Old Testament promised that the nation of Israel would be restored in the last times (see Ezekiel 11:17). This prophecy was fulfilled in 1948. Even though Israel was destroyed and its people scattered abroad because of their unbelief, God said He would rebuild the nation just prior to the end of the age. At the climax of history, the Israelis will turn to God and the nation will once again become a center of God’s revelation to all mankind (see Zechariah 12:10). The law will go forth from Jerusalem, and all the nations will come to Jerusalem to learn the law of the Lord (see Isaiah 2:2-3). At that time, the natural sons of Abraham will be exalted, along with those who, through faith in Jesus Christ, have become sons of Abraham after the Spirit. So in the last days the Jews and the church will share a wonderful glory (see Romans 11:25-26).
The nation of Israel as a whole did not accept Jesus when He was on earth. The apostle Paul said that even their unbelief became a blessing to the rest of the world because they were temporarily cut off from God’s salvation and the Gentiles took their place. When the Jews refused to believe, the rest of us were offered a chance. But when they return to faith it will be equivalent to the resurrection of the dead (see Romans 11:1-32). Some people think that a certain sign of the return of Jesus Christ to earth will be the restoration of the Jewish people to an understanding of God’s full revelation in Christ.