Jenmom posted a great question and I wanted to visit the answer here:
She was confused by the following paragraph from the definition in Vine’s Expository Dictionary about how Israel was chosen by God as a holy nation not because of their obedience or faith but because of their relationship to Him.
(From Qedosh Yisrael Post 6/4/2005)
God has dedicated Israel as His people. They are “holy” by their relationship to the “holy” God. All of the people are in a sense “holy,” as members of the covenant community, irrespective of their faith and obedience: “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” (Num. 16:3). God’s intent was to use this “holy” nation as a “holy,” royal priesthood amongst the nations (Exod. 19:6). Based on the intimate nature of the relationship, God expected His people to live up to His “holy” expectations and, thus, to demonstrate that they were a “holy nation”: “And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other peoples, that ye should be mine” (Lev. 20:26).
I looked this up in the amplified and found this: “And you shall be holy to Me; for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.” Lev 20:26 (AMP)
This verse of Scripture clearly defines how the relationship between God and the nation of Israel sets them apart as a “holy” nation. By God’s will and covenant with Abraham, the nation of Israel is defined as a “holy” people unto God. he set them apart for His glory. I believe this OT identification of the nation of Israel is very similar to the Believer in Christ’s position as Righteous in their salvation through Jesus Christ. It is an imputed righteousness born of our faith and God mercy and grace. We are now set apart – to live in the world but to not be of it that the name of God may be proclaimed through all the earth. I believe this statement from the Quote from yesterday sums it up best: “God’s intent was to use this “holy” nation as a “holy,” royal priesthood amongst the nations (Exod. 19:6). Based on the intimate nature of the relationship, God expected His people to live up to His “holy” expectations and, thus, to demonstrate that they were a “holy nation””
God’s intent was not to give Israel a free pass on obedience, sans the issuance of the Law and the Pentatuech’s very clear and defined boundaries for godly living. Instead, God credited Israel with His holiness fully expecting them to live up to the high demand placed on them.
I personally believe that God is not through with Israel yet. He just has them on “hold” (as Beth Moore demonstrated in her Daniel series). There will come a day when the accounts of Israel and their rejection of Christ as a nation will be reckoned and God will once again restore the nation of Israel to their holy status. How that works and what that will look like in the end remains a mystery, but I find that Scripture does seem to support the idea that Israel’s holy status is tied directly to their relationship with God and His entrusting them with this high calling rather than their having earned or deserved it through their choices or obedience.
I would say that to err on the side of grace in matters relating to God’s dealings with Israel is my personal choice. I have long believed the nation of Israel operates on different terms than the rest of us – maybe not for this age… but over the broad spectrum of time – they were set apart physically and spiritually while we have been given a part in their spiritual and physical inheritance through adoption in Christ. Beth Moore likes to say that she has an idea that the things we will find in heaven will have a strong Jewish theme – after all it was God who instutited the rites of the Jews… they didn’t just think it up themselves.
Won’t it be wonderful to finally go home and find out how the story really ends! Glory! Glory! Glory! God show us more of your glory. As a footnote: I would also like to say that Abraham received God’s covenant and the promise of being set apart not based on his behavior or faith, but based on God’s Will. The same goes for Moses, Joshua, David, and so on and so on. God elected them to the covenant and they carried forth – in an attitude of trusting God and being repentent before Him when disobedience became an issue. A character study in the Old Testament usually will reveal that those God called were not stellar characters, they were indeed liars, murderers, harlots and thieves. But, look how God used them to make a name for Himself. It comforts me to think if He used them that He has a plan that brings glory to Himself in store for me. I want to live like that. I do.