Israel, then, has been chosen, like Israel's ancestor Abraham, the descendant of Shem (Gen. ix. 26-27), to be a blessing to all nations on earth (ib. xii. 3, xix. 18); and the name by which the Lord calls him at the Exodus (Ex. iv. 22), "My first-born son," betokens in the language of the time his mission to be that of the priest and teacher in the house-hold of the nations, leading the rest by his precept and example to the worship of the Only One (ib. xix. 6; Isa. lxi. 6). "A people dwelling in solitude and not counted among the nations" (Num. xxiii. 9; Deut. vii. 7), but watched over by divine providence with especial care (Deut. xxvii. 18-19, xxxii. 8-12), the standard-bearer of incomparable laws of wisdom and righteousness in the sight of the nations (ib. iv. 5-8), Israel has been created to declare God's praise to the world, to be "His witnesses" (LXX., "martyrs") testifying to His unity, "the light of the nations," and the "covenant of the people to establish the earth" (Isa. xliii. 10, 21; xlix. 6-8). "To Israel's house of God the nations shall flock to be taught of His ways and to learn to walk in His paths." This is to bring humanity back to its normal condition, peace and bliss on earth, because righteousness will then prevail everywhere and the whole "earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord" (Isa. ii. 2-4, ix. 6, xi. 4-9, lxv. 25; Micah iv. 1-4). Israel, who when redeemed from Egypt proclaimed God as King (Ex. xv. 19; Lev. R. ii. 4), received the truth of Sinai as a trust; he is never to rest until his God shall become king of the whole earth, until all men and nations shall bend the knee before Him (Zech. xiv. 9; Isa. xl. 5, xlv. 13, xlix. 19; Ps. xxii. 29 [A. V. 28], xlvii. 9 , lxxvii. 5 , xcvi.-xcix.). "Israel, who proclaims God's unity, is proclaimed by God as His unique people" (Mek., Beshallaḥ, Shirah, 3). Israel, as the people of the saints of the Most High, is to establish the kingdom of God to last forever (Dan. ii. 44, vii.). But as teacher and guardian of mankind's purest faith and loftiest hope, he is dealt with more severely by God for every transgression (Jer. ii. 21; Ezek. xx. 33-41; Amos iii. 2). Nay more, as the servant of God he has been chosen for continual martyrdom in the cause of truth and justice; he, therefore, is the "man of sorrows" whose affliction is to bring healing to the world and to lead many to righteousness (Isa. lii-liii.; see Servant of God).
Whether the expectation is that the universal kingdom of God on earth will be brought about by an ideal king from the house of David, the Messiah, as Isaiah and his followers depict the future of Israel (Isa. xi. 1 et seq.; Ezek. xxxiii. 24), or by the dispersed people of Israel itself, as the seer of the Exile (Isa. lvi.-lxvi.) indicates (see Messiah); whether or not the great day when all flesh shall worship the Lord will be preceded by a day of divine judgment when all the wicked "shall be stubble" (Mal. iii. 19, 21 [A. V. iv. 3]; see Day of the Lord; Eschatology; Gog and Magog), Judaism by its idea of a divine kingdom of truth and righteousness to be built on earth gave to mankind a hope and to history a goal for which to live and strive through the centuries. Other nations beheld in the world's process a continual decline from a golden age of happiness to an iron age of toil, until in a great catastrophe of conflagration and ruin the end of all things, of men and gods, is to be reached: Judaism points forward to a state of human perfection and bliss to be brought about by the complete unfolding of the divine in man or the revelation of God's full glory as the goal of history. And herein lies its great distinction also from Christianity. Judaism's scope lies not in the world beyond, the world of the spirit, of which man on earth can have no conception. Both the hope of resurrection and that of immortality, in some form or other familiar and indispensable to all tribes and creeds, seem evidently to have come to the Jews from without—the one from Persia or Babylonia, the other from Greece. Judaism itself rests on neither (see Eschatology; Immortality; Resurrection). Its sole aim and purpose is to render the world that now is a divine kingdom of truth and righteousness; and this gives it its eminently rational, ethical, and practical character.