Israel were a special, chosen nation that God brought up out of slavery in the land of Egypt and then gave them the land of Israel to live in (Exodus 19:3 – 6).  He made a covenant with them, an agreement which meant that they would get the land that he had promised them, but also meant that they had to obey the laws that he gave them.  It does not seem that there was any other nation which had a similar covenant with God.  However, there are a number of related examples:

  1. I think the closest to God making a covenant with another nation was when he made a covenant with Cyrus, the king of Persia (prophesied a couple of hundred years before it happened in Isaiah 45).  However, this covenant was not made with the nation of Persia, and did not last beyond the time of King Cyrus.  It is also interesting that (unlike the covenant with Israel) this covenant was not based on Cyrus knowing God, but was made in spite of the fact that he did not know God.
  2. God made promises to Abraham and Hagar about Ishmael, Abraham’s son, and the nation that would come from him (Genesis 16:10 – 12; 17:19 – 21; 21:10 – 21).  Like the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob about the nation of Israel, these promises predicted that he would have many children and would become a great nation.  It says that God was with Ishmael and blessed him.  However, the promises also make it quite clear that God’s covenant would come through Isaac, not through Ishmael.
  3. God took other nations from where they were living and gave them other land in the same way as he did for Israel (Deuteronomy 32:8 – 9; Amos 9:7 – 10).  However, it is quite clear that he did not make the same kind of covenant with them, and did not choose these other nations in the same way as he chose Israel.  The reason why he was telling Israel about it was to remind them that though they were a special nation, they were not unique, and that God expected them to act on their part of the covenant, not just presume on it.

The final hope of all followers of God who are not Israelites is the covenant that God has made with all nations through Jesus.  Though God had a covenant with Israel, the covenant only really applied to those who chose to obey it and to obey him.  Now through Jesus God calls individuals from all nations to respond in the same way as he called individuals in the nation of Israel to respond to his covenant with the nation of Israel.  This is spoken about in the prophecies of the servant in Isaiah 42:6 – 7 and Isaiah 49, and the ultimate aim is that salvation be available to people in all parts of the world, whatever nation they come from, as God is building up a new nation of all those who choose to follow him (1 Peter 2:4 – 10).

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