Several questions can arise when Christians hear the phrase, “the Jews are God’s chosen people.” What does “chosen” mean? Are the Jewish people more important in God’s eyes? Do they have special privileges that others don’t? Do Jews get a free ride to heaven because God has “chosen” them?
In the Western mind, the word “chosen” is equal to “preferred.” When we go out for ice cream, we choose the flavors that we like best. When we choose something, it often means that we prefer that one thing to another.
Yet when God chooses someone or a particular group, it is not only for Himself, but to accomplish a much greater purpose. God has a grand plan, which is to demonstrate His character through His chosen vessel, in this case, the nation of Israel. He has chosen Israel not because they are the best suited, but out of His faithfulness and His love for His creation.
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” – Deut 7:6
Most “Chosen People” quotes stop right here. Of all the peoples of the earth, He has called Israel alone (and therefore the Jews as a people) “holy” and “His own possession.” At first glance, one might think that if God prefers them, they must be the biggest and the strongest. But let’s keep reading.
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers… – Deut 7:7-8
God chose Israel out of love and declares to keep that covenant regardless of their sin. God keeps His promises to these men even after hundreds and thousands of years have passed. Later Ezekiel prophesied that God would scatter Israel to the four corners of the earth, and would again return them to this very same piece of land, but He made clear it was not due to their righteousness or for their own sake.
“Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land.’” Ezekiel 36:22-24, 32
Even though Israel was thrown out of the Promised Land, scattered to the nations, and profaned His name God is still faithful to Israel. Not because they are anyone special, but because He is special in their midst. God will prove to all the nations of the earth that He is God. He has chosen Israel for such a task.
It could be said that God chose the nation of Israel because they were an arrogant, stiff-necked people that constantly turned from the Lord. How else would we know of God’s patience, forgiveness, grace and longsuffering? Nevertheless, it was through this family that the Creator chose to reveal Himself and His Son to the world. If He can show his glory and character through such a people, then there is still hope for our arrogant hearts and our wayward world.
The Bible teaches us that in the end, the Almighty will have taken this stiff-necked nation of Israel, changed her heart, and will dwell in her midst for the nations to see. If we are believers in the Lord Jesus He will take our hard hearts and do the same in us — for all to see.
He has chosen Israel for a purpose — to reveal His power, His faithfulness, and loving-kindness to all the nations of the earth. We who are believers in the Lord Jesus are joined with Israel in the same “olive tree” (Rom 11:17) and have been chosen by God for the same purpose.
Edited from the book “The Christians Biblical Guide to Understanding Israel” by Doug Hershey. Available at www.EzraAventures.com