I often hear it said; why are the Israelites so special?.. and that surely they can’t be singled out as God’s ‘special race’ as God is a just and fair God. And after all, they are far from perfect as we have seen not only from history but candidly from the Bible itself! Therefore it must be time to hand over the mantle of being the ‘chosen people’ to a more deserving people – or at least share it around a little. The problem with this in my opinion from what I read in The Bible, is that it makes some wrong assumptions, and then completely misses the whole point of God’s plan. Here are some of those wrong assumptions as I see it (feel free to correct me:), often made regarding God’s way of choosing both people and nations;
- God chose them because they are good.
If God only chose people or nations based on their ‘goodness’ no nation or person would ever qualify to be chosen – unless of course course you had some kind of sliding scale of goodness – which Jesus told us clearly does not exist when it comes to God’s estimate of weather or not a person is ‘good’ or not – we are all sinners and in need of grace and saving. The thing is, this applies not only to people – but nations too. And so we see Israels’ stubborn sinfulness all through the Bible. So they were clearly not chosen for being good. This is why people should think very carefully about taking the law into their own hands and going against Israel because of bad deeds they may have done or be doing – because God’s choosing it not about them or their goodness, it’s about Him and His goodness and just as importantly – Him fulfilling His covenant (which unliuke a contract cannot be broken by God), despite their sinfulness. And I say this is because of my next point.
- It’s not fair that I/we were/are not the chosen people.
First off, its for the potter to do as He wishes with the clay – but granted, that could be deemed by as unfair. When I get a bit jealous that I was not one of the ‘chosen’ people of Israel, I always remind myself that Judgement starts at the house of God, so I believe anyone who may feel a pang of jealously at God choosing Israel needs to actually thank God that they were not chosen, and that they have in many ways a more lenient and easier way to enter heaven, whereby God allows them to be grafted in and enter the kingdom by simply accepting His sacrifice of himself on the alter of all people’s and nations’ sins.
- It makes no sense for God to only choose 1 people.
No it doesn’t. It’s the method that would be required by God to demonstrate His power to the world. But why? Because God is going to show that DESPITE the people who He choses bad deeds and forgetfulness of Him – He will personally show His power and majesty by delivering this stubborn and often extremely unholy people. In many ways we ‘unchosen’ ones are ironically blessed NOT to have been the chosen like Israel in the Bible, and that we have been handed for free – what the Israelites were offered for obedience, without 100’s of heavy burdensome Jewish laws to keep on pain of death. We simply hear and believe in Jesus teaching and death, burial and resurrection and do our best to keep His less burdensome laws (10 commandments) and he will redeem and purify us enough to enter heaven! I’m sure that is the better deal!
- Why would God bless any-one or nation who do bad things?
Let any nation or person that commits no evil cast the first stone. God has clearly and graciously blessed all of us – Jews and gentiles, and often nations regardless of their sins. We all have been thrown a lifeline and pardon for paying the penalty of our sins in Jesus! God obviously cannot choose to bless on their righteousness alone, or no-one or nation would be blessed. He choses to bless a nation or a person despite their sin, and it’s His prerogative alone. It’s not about Israel – it’s about God foretelling the future, and then fulfilling that prophecy to show that He alone is the God true God because He alone is the only God that tells us ahead of time what is going to happen. Regardless of all the wars and despite all the sins on both sides – it’s about God and His power to keep His promise in spit of sin! And God needs to chose someone, through which to show this power, and He did that way back at the start of The Old Testament. I thank God I do not have to wander 40 years in a literal wilderness in order to get my blessing!
- The Jewish people are not good enough to be chosen.
It’s true that Jesus made no bones about the Pharisees and Scribes – in fact he hated them because of their evil practices in stitching people up and putting ordinary folk in unending bondage. Instead of delivering the liberating message of the love of God, it was all one-sided, with them in control of their ‘un-learned’ subjects. But here’s the point. Ignoring those Rabbis and religious ‘teachers’ (who I would avoid asking advice from in any case since it is clear that being blinded by their own arrogance and pride in being chosen by God, missed the suffering Messiah altogether in the first place – expecting him to be a conqueror, having no understanding of the importance and what it means that God chose to serve us in Jesus) I have actually met Israeli people and they are the most beautiful people I have ever met. I’ll tell you one story. I was once in Israel with three friends and we had cycled for hours and run out of food, water and cash and it was a scorching day. We cam across a small bakery hoping we could buy some water and a few small items with the pennies we had left but I was amazed at what happened. The store owners saw we had a problem and welcomed us in with smiles and asked us to choose whatever we wanted from the counter! You would be hard pressed for an Englishman or store to do this. It seems to be all ‘Israelis’ including the people themselves that seem to get all the flack on the news, when they are not who Jesus Christ had a problem with. The problem he had was with the arrogant and religious teachers who were obsessed with genealogies and bloodlines and therefore being somehow ‘better’ – ie race – something Jesus told us to pay NO attention to, since there is actually no such thing as ‘race’ in reality, and it is merely a distraction of the Devil. Not only have scientists proved that are ALL of us mixed to one degree or other genetically (so none of us is ethnically ‘pure) Jesus told us clearly – “we are all of one blood” (Adam and Eve).
The irony is that now as then, the Jewish Rabbis and teachers assume they are chosen and defended by God because they are special, exceptionally good (somewhat understandably – as who wouldn’t get slightly too pleased with themselves with words like ‘chosen’ applied to them?) which only goes to illustrate and prove what man’s entire problem has been from the beginning is in a nutshell – pride – the problem that started in the Garden!
The truth is they as we, are defended by God because He is special and despite our sins, only because despite their sins, their hearts, unlike many their enemies, still had not completely turned away from Him and their was still a tiny shard of light and living water able reach their hearts. No matter what – He will prove His power and deliver this ungodly and complaining people, and in the same way will redeem us if we remain in the vine and facing Him – ie still able to drink from the stream of living water, and eventually make us all of us who want Him in our lives holy in His time and His glory.
So when we bless Israel or not, I believe we should first be thinking and asking who this is really all about? It’s about God! Below is a pretty good guide to understanding exactly why – and why not – the Jews may be special or chosen.