What Does the Bible Say About the People of God in the Old Testament?

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God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation, which also happened through Abraham’s grandson Jacob, who became the father of Israel. Eventually, the people of Israel settle in Egypt, where they become slaves after a time. God rescues his people from Egypt and makes a covenant with them on Mount Sinai. From the Sinai covenant on, Israel promises to keep the Law of Moses, while God in turn promises to give Israel a territory and that they will be his blessed people of property. Israel does not keep its part of the covenant and thus loses its land and its blessing. But not all of Israel renounced, some continued to believe in God. Out of the remnant of this small faithful few, there is a promise that the Messiah will come and establish a new covenant with God’s people and also include people from all nations.

Bible Verses

1Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.(Ge 12:1–2)

6Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.(Ex 6:6–7)

5Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”(Ex 19:5–6)

11The king of Assyria carried the Israelites away to Assyria and put them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God but transgressed his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded. They neither listened nor obeyed.(2 Ki 18:11–12)

44Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God. 45But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.”(Le 26:44–45)

3For behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.”(Je 30:3)

18Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”(1 Ki 19:18)

22For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return.(Is 10:22)

12I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob; I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men.(Mic 2:12)

Study Questions

  1. Why was Abraham chosen to be the progenitor of God’s people?
  2. What was the purpose of God choosing a people of his own?
  3. Why did Israel fail to keep the covenant?
  4. What is the difference between God’s people in the Old and New Testaments?
  5. Is Israel still the people of God?

Additional Bible Verses

Gen 15:5, Deut 7:6, Lev 26:12, Jer 30:22, Rom 9:6-7, Jer 31:31-34, Rom 11:1-12, Rom 11:25-32, 1 Pet 2:9-10, Gal 5:15-16

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