Israel

Israel is sometimes called God’s son in the Bible (and God’s servant). Applying the Deuteronomy 32 worldview, in which the nations were divided up among the sons of God, the relationship can be understood as fatherly supervision: the sons of God were supposed to be fathers to their nations, and YHWH was Father to Israel. The concept goes beyond that. YHWH did not simply appropriate a nation “off-the-shelf”: He miraculously caused Sarah, who was barren, to conceive Isaac, the father of Jacob, and He chose Jacob over Esau, renaming Jacob following his night of wrestling with the Angel of the YHWH. God caused Israel to be and called Israel out of Egypt, which Matthew applied to Jesus.

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.

-Hosea 11:1-2

When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

-Matthew 2:14-15

Israel was called to a mission. It was not the will of God that the nations should be subject to the sons of God forever or that they should not know Him. They were punished for their rebellion at Babel, but God’s will was always to save as many as possible. Even in the Old Testament period, we have examples of Gentiles coming to faith in the God of Israel: Hagar; the Egyptians and foreigners who joined the Israelite Exodus; Rahab; Ruth; Uriah the Hittite; Naaman. Israel was to be an example to the nations:

Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

-Deuteronomy 4:6

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 the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.

-Deuteronomy 26:19

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s: and he is the governor among the nations.

-Psalm 22:27-28

God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.
That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

-Psalm 67:1-2

I the LORD have called unto you in righteousness, and have taken hold of your hand, and submitted you as the people’s covenant, as a light unto the nations.

-Isaiah 42:6

And unto your light, nations shall walk, and kings unto the brightness of your rising.

-Isaiah 60:3

Israel in her own human strength had moments of meeting this mission. The Diaspora among the nations had the effect of spreading the word of YHWH. Thus in Acts, Jewish believers in Jesus come across Gentile worshippers of YHWH (“God-fearing Gentiles”) attached to synagogues and Jewish communities. But this work was incomplete. Jesus came to perfect the work of Israel in bringing the nations back to YHWH, and so He can be understood as Israel, God’s Son. Simeon the prophet, applied Isaiah’s language to the infant Jesus.

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

-Luke 2:32

Thus the writers of the New Testament applied Isaiah 53, the story of the Suffering Servant, to Jesus. It is a story Israel’s Messiah.