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Why Israel? Why not some other part of the world?

Postby 007 James Bond » Mon Nov 21, 2016 11:45 am

I'm working my way through some study aids for the Bible, and one thing which I keep coming back to is why is Israel chosen. Pardon my utter ignorance; I'm a complete layman, so probably not even sure this is the right question, but I would like to know. I wonder why were the Babylonians not chosen or somewhere else?
007 James Bond

Re: Why Israel? Why not some other part of the world?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Dec 26, 2016 3:10 pm

The Bible never really explains, so all answers are speculative, but we can make some educated guesses. In Genesis 4, when humanity was getting worse by the day because of sin, there were still some who called on the name of the Lord (Gn. 4.26). Through history there were always some who called on the name of the Lord, who were faithful to Him, and God took notice of that (Gn. 5.21-24). Just before the flood, things were as bad as they could possibly get, but God found one man who was still righteous (Noah, Gn. 6.9), and God worked with him. God is always responsive to people who are seeking him (Deut. 4.29; 2 Chron. 7.14; even Luke 19.10). God is continually drawing all people to himself (John 12.32), and He's on the lookout for those who have the heart to respond in faith.

After the flood, the world quickly became steeped in sin again, but there were still individuals who were seeking God. Terah, Abraham's father, seems to have been one of those. It seems that God called him to go to the land of Canaan, and he went part way, then lost his drive and never continued (Gen. 11.31). Well, if he doesn't want it, God will find someone who does. So he called Abraham, and Abe obeyed. It's hard to say for sure, but possibly Abraham was chosen because he responded to being asked. Sort of the philosophy of "move with the movers." Use people who will cooperate with you and want to be part of what you're doing. So maybe that's an explanation of why Abraham, a Sumerian, rather than any of the Babylonians or anyone else. Abraham was seeking God and was responsive to Him.

But why Israel, and not some other part of the world? It turns out in the course of ancient history that Israel was the crossroads of civilization. In those days, without an infrastructure, travelers had to follow the water sources: rivers, wells, lakes, etc. Anyone coming from the east would often stop in Israel before heading north or south because of the large lake of freshwater there (the Sea of Galilee). And if they were heading south, the Jordan River. Those going from Europe to Africa, or vice versa, would again take the shortest route—through Israel.

So possibly (though remember I said the Bible doesn't tell us), Abraham was chosen because he was seeking God and would respond, and possibly Israel was chosen because it was the crossroads of civilization.

Another intriguing possibility about Israel (Canaan, Palestine) is that it wasn't the best land, but it had real potential. Possibly that land was chosen because the people would have to depend on God for their daily bread, and through His blessings the land could become fruitful. Without His blessings and protection, the land would pass from one conqueror to the next, all of whom wanted to possess the crossing place of nations. Just wondering.

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