Chosen for a special purpose
The Jews, the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, have a special place in the purpose of God with mankind:
- They received and preserved God’s written revelation
- Through them God raised up His Son, their Messiah
- In their deliverance from Egypt and their subsequent history they have become witnesses to the truth of God’s promises to them (eg Jer. 30:11)
- They are witnesses to God’s existence (Isa. 43:12)
- Their regathering in the twentieth century, in fulfilment of Bible prophecy, is a witness to the nearness of Jesus’s second coming
Gentile believers can share in the promises made to the fathers of Israel by believing the gospel (also described as the ‘Hope of Israel’) and baptism into Jesus Christ. If faithful, they will be part of the “all Israel
Beloved for the fathers’ sakes
The children of Israel were selected as God’s witnesses because they were the descendants of the faithful fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not for their moral excellence.
Israel were expected to show a similar faith by believing and obeying God’s Law. In this way they would become an example to the surrounding nations. (Gen. 12:2; 13:15,16; 22:16-18; Ex. 19:4-6; Deut. 4:5-8; 7:6-11; Jno. 8:39)
A covenant people
The descendants of Jacob became a distinct nation in Egypt. By delivering Israel from their captivity in Egypt, God is shown as a God of judgement, power and graciousness. Every year, the Jews remember their deliverance from Egypt by keeping ‘the Passover’.
During their journey from Egypt, Israel confirmed their calling as God’s witnesses at Mt. Sinai when they agreed to be obedient to God’s law. This covenant was renewed with the generation that actually entered Canaan, the ‘Land of Promise’. It is the basis of God’s treatment of them, as witnessed by their history:(Amos 3:2; Gen. 15:13,14; Ex. 1:7; 9:13-16; 12:15,17; 24:7; Deut. 4:23,24; Josh. 24:21- 25; Rom. 3:1,2)
Scattering and regathering
God offered Israel prosperity and blessing if they obeyed Him, but deprivation and cursing if disobedient. If they continued to disobey Him, God said they would be removed from the land and scattered among the nations, where they would be oppressed and become a proverb.
Which is just what happened to Israel. They were blessed in the reigns of David and Solomon and other faithful kings. But, trouble and captivity came following their continued disobedience. Eventually they were deported to Assyria and Babylon.
Later in their history, Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah. So, they were scattered throughout the world for nearly 2000 years and Jerusalem became subject to Gentile control.
Yet, their national identity has been preserved, a witness that God keeps His word. God’s promises also promised that they would return and be re-established as a nation in the Land of Promise . This happened in 1948 and the whole of Jerusalem came under Jewish control in 1967.
However, the prophets said that this situation would be opposed by other nations, resulting in an international attack that will require the nation to be saved by Divine intervention on Jesus’ return. (Deut. 28; Lev. 26; Joel 3:1,2,9-17,20,21; Zech. 14; Lk. 21:20-27)
Not cast off
Some contend that Israel ’s persistent disobedience and the murder of their Messiah, means that the nation has been cast off and its place taken by believers in Jesus Christ.
Paul specifically refutes this idea. The Jews are still the basis of God’s work of salvation, but Gentiles can, by faith, share the promises, which will be fulfilled at the return of Jesus when “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26 ).