A friend wrote and asked me why God would have chosen Israel, and why he speaks of loving in Jerusalem. Here is my response.
I cannot pretend to know God’s eternal purposes, or why he chooses one place over another. But I’ll try to give some thoughts from a human perspective of the strategic reasons why I think he might have chosen this land.
In short, God gave this land to the Israelites, because it is the land bridge between the great ancient civilizations of Egypt to the south, Mesopotamia to the east, and the Hittites to the northwest. On this land bridge all of the commerce and transport between these civilizations passed through Israel.
Imagine that you own the major toll road between major civilizations. It is the prime piece of real estate in the whole Middle East. You would control all the commerce between the major civilizations. You collected the taxes for the privilege of using your roads and passing through your land (tollway). God wanted them to use this strategic tollway to promote the true and living God, kind of like ancient evangelists.
And central to that strip of land and overlooking it are the Mountains of Jerusalem. David chose the city as his capital because it was central between the north and the south with a good source of water (Springs of Gihon) and a very strategic location.
It goes all the way back to Abraham who was given the land. As he passed by Salem (Jeru-salem) Melchizedek came out with bread and wine. He was a priest of the most high God and the king of Salem. He was a prefiguration of Christ. This is very early on in Genesis 14.
Also, since you’ve not been there, you have the mental image that it’s all deserts and wilderness with blowing sand and hot winds. But the land of Israel is actually one of the most beautiful and lush countries in the area. It has three growing seasons per year (“The three principal feasts of the Jews corresponded to the three harvest seasons (Ex. 23:16; 34:21f) ISBE).
It’s a land flowing with milk and honey, which means great prosperity. The fields are full of vineyards and orchards and gardens. Fresh fruit and vegetables year around. Miles of date palms, trees of almonds, and pomegranates, cherries, and apples — vineyards producing award winning wines. The Jezreel Valley around Mount Tabor is one of the most fertile areas within 100’s of miles.
It has been the gem desired by all the countries who have tried to conquer and control it. Solomon built three massive military cities along the Via Maris to protect the way and to collect tolls and taxes (Hazor, Meggido and Gezer).
The water coming in from Lebanon rushes through the north to fill the Sea of Galilee and then meanders in the Jordan River down past Jerusalem which turns Israel into a garden.
Abraham offered his son on Mount Moriah which is where Solomon built the Temple. Jesus loved the Temple calling it his Father’s House.
Canaan was full of idol worshipers who burned their infants in the fire and were sexual deviants. God “killed two birds with one stone” by giving this land to Israel, and eliminating the evil Canaanites.
It was the perfect lush land, strategically located in the heart of the civilized world at the time. Jerusalem stood at 3,000 above sea level and God chose it as his land for his people. It has been fought over ever since.
See the map below. See the inhospitable Arabian Desert (Syrian)? It forces the travelers (even today) to hug the coast of the Mediterranean, and pass through the land bridge of Israel. Notice also the Cloverleaf below, which is prominently placed in a park in Jerusalem.