In keeping with his promises to Israel, God saves them. The Hebrew Scriptures make it very plain, telling in great detail using God’s own words, the how and the why of God saving Israel. “I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
“My treasured possession:” royal property belonging to God purely by his own will and desire.
“The whole earth is mine:” the Lord can do as he pleases; and it pleases him to make Israel his own.
“A kingdom of priests, a holy nation:” Israel is different; set apart from the other nations.
Yes, the people belong to God and, yes, they are called to be separate from the rest of the world. But Israel is not separate in that they live in isolation from the other nations. As holy and priestly, Israel is the means by which God will save and bless the entire world. The purpose of God’s people is international in scope. It’s nature is global. Israel is a holy and priestly nation that God has chosen to work through to bring about his eternal plans for mankind.
God calls his people to live holy lives, to stick out like a sore thumb in the ways they live. Why? For the sake of others! To save the world!
God has created a people to be the means for reconciling the nations to himself. And when God’s people disobey God’s laws, when they live in ways that are not holy, when God’s people do what everybody else is doing, yes, it has serious implications for their relationship with God. But, much bigger than that, it thwarts the salvation plans of heaven for everybody else.
Look at the golden calf.
“Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.” ~Exodus 32:25
Rather than redeeming the nations, Israel rejects the God who saved her and becomes a laughingstock, a point of ridicule. As a result, the world is less attracted to the true God than ever before. All throughout the Old Testament, Israel’s disobedience to God leads to their reproach by the rest of the world. And that’s totally counter to God’s purpose for his people. He made his people for the sake of others.
Even in the exile, where Israel felt the full weight of the consequences of her disobedience, the focus is on how this is impacting the salvation of the rest of the world. God promises to bring the remnant of Israel back to the land in order to renew his universal purpose in calling Israel in the first place.
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” ~Isaiah 49:6
Even in the darkest period of Israel’s history, when her own release from captivity was the most pressing concern, God reminds his people of the broader picture. He reminds them that it’s not about them. Why are they going to be released? Why are they going to be rescued? For the sake of others, not themselves. To bring salvation to the rest of the world.
As God’s people and devout followers of his Son, it’s not about us. It’s about the rest of the world. Your church is not about you and the people you sit with, it’s about your city. Your Bible class or your small group is not about you and your friends, it’s about your neighborhood, your community. It’s not about us. It’s not about any of us. It’s about God using us to save others. We are saved, we are brought together in him, we exist for the sake of others.
“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you… that they may see your good deeds and glorify God.” ~1 Peter 2:9-12