God did not choose Israel because Israel was already holy. He chose them to make them holy. Israel was called to be holy in two senses of the word. They were called to be different, to be set apart as a vehicle of God’s plan of redemption. They were also called to be holy in the sense of being purified. Pagan practices were absent from Israel’s midst. They were to be sanctified by drawing near to God. Salvation for the nations was to come out of Israel. The Promised Land was to be the breeding ground for the coming Messiah. There was no room for pagan shrines and pagan rites. God ordained a scorched-earth policy to purge the land for future salvation.
– R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Ill., Copyright 1985, Kindle Edition