Special characteristics of Israel

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Special characteristics of Israel

On this page, let’s take a look at many Scripture verses that tell us about Israel, keeping in mind what we’ve already learned:

  1. Israel includes all twelve tribes, not just “Jews” (those from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the southern kingdom of Israel).
  2. Israel also includes any Gentiles who have been grafted into the nation of Israel through Jesus Christ.

I recommend that you print this page, and then read each verse from your own Bible. You might want to mark these verses in your Bible. There is a print button at the bottom of the article.

They are the people of God.

Note that these are literal descendants of Israel, yet believers in Jesus from all nations are included in the designation, “people of God.”

Exodus 6:7 – And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am YHVH your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Exodus 15:16 – Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O YHVH, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

Exodus 33:13, 16 – Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people… For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

Leviticus 26:12 – And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Deut. 9:29 – Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.

Deut. 26:18-19 – And YHVH hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto YHVH thy God, as he hath spoken.

Deut. 27:9 – And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of YHVH thy God.

Deut. 29:13 – That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

1 Sam. 12:22 – For YHVH will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased YHVH to make you his people.

2 Sam. 5:12 – And David perceived that YHVH had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.

2 Sam. 7:23-24 – And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, YHVH, art become their God.

1 Kings 8:51-53 – For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron: That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee. For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O YHVH God.

1 Chron. 17:21-22 – And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people whom thou hast redeemed out of Egypt? For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, YHVH, becamest their God.

Nehemiah 1:8 – Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

Psalm 95:7 – For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Psalm 148:14 – He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints; even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise ye YHVH.

Isaiah 40:1 – Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.

Isaiah 43:20-21 – The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.

Isaiah 52:9 – Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for YHVH hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 13:11 – For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith YHVH; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

Jeremiah 24:7 – And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am YHVH: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

Ezekiel 11:20 – That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 14:11 – That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith YHVH God.

Ezekiel 34:30-31 – Thus shall they know that I YHVH their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith YHVH God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith YHVH God.

Ezekiel 36:12 – Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.

Ezekiel 36:28 – And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Ezekiel 37:22-23 – And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.

Ezekiel 37:26-28 – Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I YHVH do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

Ezekiel 39:7-8 – So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am YHVH, the Holy One in Israel. Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith YHVH God; this is the day whereof I have spoken.

Daniel 9:19 – O YHVH, hear; O YHVH, forgive; O YHVH, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

Hosea 2:23 – And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.

Zechariah 8:7-8 – Thus saith YHVH of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness

Zechariah 13:9 – And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, YHVH is my God.

It is very clear that the people of God are Israel. However, the New Testament makes it clear that both Jews and Gentiles are included in the people of God.

Romans 9:23-26 – And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Hosea, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 – And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith YHVH, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith YHVH Almighty.

Ephesians 4:4-6 – There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works

Hebrews 4:19 – There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Revelation 21:3 – And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

They are a kingdom of priests.

God’s original intention for His people was that they would intercede for the entire world as a kingdom of priests to serve Him.

Exodus 19:5-6 – Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

The same thing is said in the New Testament, but in these contexts, the “people of God” includes believers in Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

Revelation 5:9-10 – And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Unless God broke His covenant to never reject His people Israel and replaced them with the Church, then these passages are all speaking of the same group of people.

They are a holy [set-apart] nation.

Again, it is very clear from the Old Testament that Israel is a nation set apart to God. The word “holy” means “set apart for a specific purpose.”1http://anneelliott.com/2008/07/hallowed-be-thy-name-part-1/

Exodus 19:5-6 – Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Exodus 33:13, 16 –  Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people… For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

Leviticus 20:24 – But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am YHVH your God, which have separated you from other people.

Leviticus 20:26 – And ye shall be holy unto me: for I YHVH am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

Deut. 7:6-7 – For thou art an holy people unto YHVH thy God: YHVH thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. YHVH did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people.

Deut. 14:2 – For thou art an holy people unto YHVH thy God, and YHVH hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

Deut. 14:21 – …thou art an holy people unto YHVH thy God.

Deut. 26:18-19 – And YHVH hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto YHVH thy God, as he hath spoken.

Deut. 28:9 – YHVH shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of YHVH thy God, and walk in his ways.

Deut. 33:3-4 – Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words. Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.

Isaiah 62:12 – And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of YHVH: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

Ezekiel 37:26-28 – Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I YHVH do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

Ezekiel 39:27 – When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations

Notice that the writers of the New Testament described believers in Jesus Christ the same way: as a nation that is “holy” (set apart), filled with “saints” (set-apart ones).

Ephesians 1:4 – According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

Ephesians 2:19 – Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

They are God’s treasure, His inheritance, and His sheep.

YHVH describes Israel as His treasured possession and His inheritance.

Exodus 19:5-6 – Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Exodus 34:9 – And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O YHVH, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.

Deut. 9:29 – Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.

1 Kings 8:51-53 – For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron: That thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy servant, and unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee. For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O YHVH God.

Psalm 33:12 – Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

The rest of the writers of the New Testament say the same things.

Ephesians 1:18 – The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.

God also describes Himself as the Shepherd of Israel, His people. Israel is described as His sheep.

Ezekiel 34:30-31 – Thus shall they know that I YHVH their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith YHVH God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith YHVH God.

Notice that Jesus describes Himself as the good shepherd. Notice also that He is planning to bring other sheep (not of Israel) into the sheep pen. Finally, notice that there is only one flock and one shepherd.

John 10:14-16 – I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

The rest of the writers of the New Testament say the same things.

Hebrews 13:20 – Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.

1 Peter 2:25 – For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls..

They are chosen by God.

God chose Israel, his people, above all other people on earth.

Deut. 10:15 – Only YHVH had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.

Deut. 14:2 – For thou art an holy people unto YHVH thy God, and YHVH hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

1 Kings 3:8 – And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.

Psalm 33:12 – Blessed is the nation whose God is YHVH; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Isaiah 43:20-21 – The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.

Notice that the New Testament says the same thing.

Ephesians 1:4 – According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

Ephesians 1:11 – In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

They are redeemed.

The Old Testament says that God redeemed (or purchased) the people of Israel for His very own. In Exodus, He redeemed them from slavery in Egypt by the spilled blood of the Passover Lambs. This is a picture of His ultimate redemption of His people from the slavery of sin by the blood of His Son Jesus.

2 Sam. 7:23-24 – And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? For thou hast confirmed to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever: and thou, YHVH, art become their God.

1 Chron. 17:21-22 – And what one nation in the earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his own people, to make thee a name of greatness and terribleness, by driving out nations from before thy people whom thou hast redeemed out of Egypt? For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, YHVH, becamest their God.

Nehemiah 1:8 – Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

Psalm 111:9 – He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.

Isaiah 52:9 – Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for YHVH hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

Isaiah 62:12 – And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of YHVH: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

Notice that the New Testament describes the both Israel and believers in Jesus as “redeemed.”

Luke 1:68-75 – Blessed be YHVH God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

Ephesians 1:14 – Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory

Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

They are called “sons of God.”

Israel is called “sons of the living God.”

Hosea 1:9-11 – Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

Paul writes that, just as Hosea prophesied, the children of God are called from both the Gentiles and the Jews, and they are made the people of God. Other verses in the New Testament agree.

Romans 9:23-26 – And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Hosea, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

Ephesians 1:5 – Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.

John 1:12 – But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

Romans 8:14 – For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Galatians 4:6 – And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Philippians 2:15 – That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.

Hebrews 12:7 – If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

1 John 3:1-2 – Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

They would be blessed.

Finally, God promises a special blessing to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [Israel].

Genesis 12:1-3 – Now YHVH had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Deut. 7:14 – Thou shalt be blessed above all people.

Deut. 26:15 – Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

Through faith in Jesus, even the Gentiles can participate in the blessing of Abraham, through faith in Jesus.

Galatians 3:14 – That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

If Israel has been blessed “above all people,” yet believers in Jesus are blessed with “all spiritual blessings,” how can these two groups not be one and the same?

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1. http://anneelliott.com/2008/07/hallowed-be-thy-name-part-1/

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