ISRAEL WAS ONCE CALLED JACOB. In The Bible Jacob's Name Was Changed To Israel. Yet we find that Israel is later called Jacob, whereas in the case of Abraham this is not the case. Abram became Abraham and was not called Abram again.
From my understanding of the Bible, there are many hidden truths placed within it that are only revealed to those whose eyes are opened. The Bible is written so that only those who genuinely seek to know the truth shall find it.
This point is illustrated when Jesus makes a reference to God speaking to Moses from the burning bush, and saying that He is the God of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac. (Exodus 3:6) This is what Jesus said:
And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (Matthew 22:31-32)
If you are honest, and you have read that account attributed to Moses, like most people you would not derive from what is written there that the Creator is the God of the Living and not the dead. You would not realize that God is saying that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive. You would not see that this implies that there is a judgment between those who are to have eternal life and those who are to suffer eternal separation from God. You would be like myself, and like those who heard Jesus, you would be astonished as this teaching (Matthew 22:33).
When it comes to Jacob and Israel, the names refer to two different aspects of what occurs in the man's life. Jacob is the man who secures his blessing, Israel represents those who have been chosen to rule with God. However, because the nation Israel was chosen in the flesh to rule with God as a nation on Earth, the individual spiritual element and the personal responsibility this carries has not been abolished. For every individual is still accountable for his or her own actions and all are required to seek God in order they might be found of Him (ie. chosen by God). This is why we read in the Bible many are called, few are chosen. The account of Joshua and Caleb demonstrate this.
Joshua and Caleb were the only ones over the age of twenty who were chosen by God to be permitted to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. The reason they were chosen is revealed in the book of Numbers:
‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me; none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord.’ (Numbers 32:11-12)
Israel was delivered from Egypt; but none of those over the age of twenty were permitted to enter God’s promise because of their sinfulness and rebellion towards their Savior. As a nation, Israel was separated from the other nations, having been chosen by God. However, as individuals, each one was not chosen; for each one was to be held personally responsible for his or her own salvation in respect to each one's relationship towards God.
When speaking of Jacob, this is a reference to the man who sought God. When speaking of Israel, this is a reference to the nation that was ordained to rule with God among the nations and be a witness of goodness and favor of the Holy One, Creator of the Universe.
Abraham, on the other hand, became the father of all who were to believe as well as the father of the nation Israel. When Abraham had his name changed this is what God said:
“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. (Genesis 17:4-6)
When God spoke to Abram, and changed his name to reflect his new status, this was after he had been declared righteous (Genesis 15:6), and included not only physical descendants according to the genetic seed, but also those who were to be saved through faith.
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants—not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all. (Romans 4:16)
Isaac was the promised child who also had faith. Jacob was a child of faith. Jacob was chosen to be the called Israel because of his faith.
In the triumvirate of the three fathers, we have Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who are father, son and grandson. The multitude who are to be saved come from the grandson. We see the Father of all those who are to be saved; we also see the father of many who are not to be saved. We see the child of promise who had faith. We see the grandchild who was chosen because of his faith.
The promise was given to Abraham. This 'promise' is effected from the father’s seed, who is a faithful son, who brings forth two sons; one that is worldly and one that is God orientated. The nation of Edom which came from Esau is abandoned. The nation that comes from Jacob is chosen to rule with God.
The nation that comes from Jacob is not the nation that comes from Israel. While Israel represents a type of the chosen ones, they are of biological descent and therefore their is no requirement of faith. The nation that comes from Jacob consists of the ones who are chosen because they exercise faith towards God. These are the ones who are circumcised of heart. For we read:
For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:28-30)
Hopefully, this provides some insight into why Israel and Jacob are used to describe Israelites and why Abraham’s name was changed. Abraham was not referred to again as Abram. But there is much more to the story. However, once the dichotomy of the spiritual reality and temporal biological existence is understood, then throughout the Bible the narrative begins to make sense. The reason why many fail to understand the Bible is they are unable to differentiate between the realities of the two existences. The spiritual reality being eternal and the biological domain being temporal.
Unfortunately, too many people want to accuse God of being a fool, not realizing they merely are projecting a reflection of themselves in their accusation. When looking at the futility of the biological existence, these individuals, thinking they are superior beings, believe their own deception of themselves and have difficulty grasping there is no ultimate meaning in being born to die and having to suffer in between. Since these individuals believe they are more worthy than being mere parrots who regurgitate nonsense, ironically, they persist in doing it. Rather than being humble and admitting their insignificance and inner need to discover true meaning in life, they reject the Creator rather than seeking Him. The Bible is written in such a way that only those who are willing to be humble will learn the truth.
In a way, such ironies occur with people who write G-d, when YHWH is the name of the God. YHWH is the sound that each one expresses when they breathe. YHWH means "I Am Life".
Historically, the pronunciation of the tetragrammaton YHWH has been avoided because of fear. However, taking God's name in vain is not a matter of pronunciation. Such erroneous ideas in respect of being fearful of God contribute to a "works" mentality that creates a self-righteous attitude within those who practice these things. They then think that their salvation hinges upon the balance of their good words verses their bad works, while at the same time overlooking that King David thanked God for not requiting his iniquities. David understood that God has pronounced the blessing on those who are forgiven.
Forgiveness has to be received, of course. Forgiveness has nothing to do with merit based on performance. It has to do with an attitude of heart that discerns reality and understands that justice is about mercy triumphing judgement.