God’s plan for the nation of Israel was unique in that he guaranteed salvation for his people based on a special status they held. Because he had chosen the Israelites, the LORD was committed to them and went to great lengths to secure their position in his kingdom. God described his care for his people as that of a man tending his vineyard. The objective was to bring forth good fruit. Isaiah stated, “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6).
It may have seemed as if God was too harsh with the Israelites when he sent them into captivity, but the process of salvation was different for them than everyone else. Originally, there was a need for atonement, a transaction in which the sins of the people were covered through a substitutionary sacrifice. Isaiah explained, “By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin” (Isaiah 27:9).
As the Israelites were scattered like seed out into the world, their relationship with God became more evident to the people around them. It was obvious they were not like everyone else. God’s work continued in and through them in spite of their dispersion. In some ways, it could be said, that the disintegration of the nation of Israel was a sign to the rest of the world that God required payment for sin. If he did not let his own children get away with their rebellion, how much more would he punish those who denied his existence.
One of the characteristics of the last days, or end of time, is that there will be a harvest. During that time, God will call his people back home. Isaiah said, “And it shall come to pass in that day that the LORD shall beat off from the channel of the river unto the stream of Egypt, and ye shall be gathered one by one, o ye children of Israel” (Isaiah 27:12). The gathering of God’s people was compared to the threshing of wheat in order to emphasize a separation from the rest of the world. The reference to one by one indicated that God would track the whereabouts of Jacob’s descendants and supernaturally return them to the Promised Land.
Although there was an initial fulfillment of this prophecy when a remnant of the nation of Israel returned from Assyrian and Babylonian exile, Isaiah 11:11 indicated there would be a second effort to recover the remnant of God’s people. It is likely the final return will be a complete recovery sometime in the future. Isaiah stated, “And it shall come to pass in that day that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13).