By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Are the Jews of today still the chosen people of God? Why do people say they are, when they don’t even believe in Jesus?
Before answering this question about the Jews living today, let’s review what we know about the Israelites of the Old Testament. We know that God raised up Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to be the fathers of the nation that would become Israel, and that He began preparing them to be His people. They were chosen by God…
- Chosen and given unmerited favor to be God’s instrument to do His good will.
- Chosen and called to carry His message of redemption to the world .
- Chosen and prepared to one day receive their promised Messiah.
Being chosen, or being a part of the nation of Israel, did not guarantee entrance into Heaven for any Jew prior to the cross, nor does it today. Salvation in every dispensation (every time period) has always been by the grace of God through faith. “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). It is not of any man’s works or any man’s merit.
What is different before and after the cross is the understanding of who the Lord is. Prior to Jesus’ coming, people were to trust in God as He had revealed Himself to them. When Jesus came to earth, things began to change. In His earthly ministry, Jesus revealed Himself both as Israel’s promised Messiah and as God. He clearly taught that He and the Father are One and that He is the only way to the Father.
John 14:6-7 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob revealed Himself through the incarnation, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. Since that time there can be no relationship with God that is not through faith in Jesus.
So are the Jews of today still the “chosen people of God?” My answer is no…but let me explain.
Don’t hear me wrong.
God has not forgotten the Jews.
The nation of Israel was chosen by God, prior to Jesus’ incarnation, to be His people and to represent Him in the world. God made covenants with them, some of which have been fulfilled and others that are yet to be fulfilled. God will fulfill all His promises that He made to the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant. For example, the promise of an earthly kingdom and a ruling Messiah/King will one day be fulfilled. The promise of inheritance of the land will also be fulfilled; for God promised Israel, “from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be” (Deuteronomy 11:24).
The Jews will receive the fulfillment of all unfulfilled promises when they turn to God in their affliction and seek His face. Daniel prophesied of this future time–the time we call the seventieth week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27), or more commonly The Tribulation. In Matthew 24 Jesus spoke about this time of great trial and tribulation; and through the prophet Hosea God told that the Jews will turn to Jesus during this time of affliction:
Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Hosea 5:15 I [Jesus] will go and return to my place [Heaven], till they [the Jews] acknowledge their offense [rejecting their Messiah], and seek my face [turn to Jesus in faith]: in their affliction [the Tribulation] they will seek me [Jesus] early.
One day God will draw the Jewish people back to Himself and remove the veil that blinds them (2 Corinthians 3:14). In the Tribulation, God will use 144,000 Jewish men to preach His gospel (Revelation 7) and two Old Testament saints (Revelation 11) as witnesses to testify of His truth. In that time, “he that hath an ear” will hear. But until that time, Jews are blinded and remain separated from God, not seeing or hearing.
Romans 11:8 (According as it is written, God hath given them [the Jews] the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
As prophesied by Hosea and confirmed by Paul, when the Jews turn their hearts to Jesus the veil will be taken away (Hosea 5:15, 2 Corinthians 3:15-6).
Don’t hear me wrong.
God still loves the Jews and He is calling them.
Any Jew who repents and trusts in Jesus will receive God’s mercy and grace and become His chosen child. However, those who do not trust in Jesus are not His people in the same way that the Israelites were under the Old Covenant. The Jews, at the time of Jesus’ death, failed to receive Jesus as their Messiah (John 1:11), and they failed in the work for which they were chosen. They do not represent God as He has revealed Himself through His Son.
Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant and the New Covenant is now in effect (Hebrews 8:13). The only way to be in relationship with God is through Jesus. The Bible clearly tells that the Church, the Body of Christ, is chosen in Christ (Ephesians 1:4) and given unmerited grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). Those “in Christ” are God’s children (Rom 8:16, Gal 3:26) and they are commissioned:
To be God’s instrument to do His good will
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
To carry His message of redemption to the world.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ…
To honor and glorify God in all things.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
To enjoy God and find our rest in Jesus.
Psalm 36:8-9 They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.
Psalm 16:8-9 I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Matthew 11:29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you [in Christ] are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Let me clarify once again. . .
This does NOT mean that the Church has replaced Israel. While the church is a “chosen generation” and those in Christ “are now the people of God,” God will turn again to the people of Israel in the last days. God is faithful and He will fulfill His promises given to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Many Jews will come to know Jesus as their Messiah and their Saviour. They will be the believing remnant of which the Bible prophesies and they will also be God’s people.
Please do not find rest in hearing people say, “the Jews are the chosen people of God.” Jews without Jesus are perishing, just as Gentiles who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ are without salvation. Salvation is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ and Jesus loves the Jewish people. Be prepared to tell both Jews and Gentiles, who Jesus is, what He has done for them and the saving grace that only He can give them. Tell both Jews and Gentiles how much Jesus loves them and that He offers forgiveness for their sins, regeneration of their souls, newness of life in Him and eternal life with Him.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:
for it is the power of God unto salvation
to every one who believes;
to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Rom 1:16)
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