Current issues in the Middle East raise valid questions. Many people wonder about the Jews being God's chosen people.
A Very Relevant Query
At the pivotal trial of Jesus, a profound moment unfolds as the crowd of Jews called for the responsibility of His crucifixion to rest upon them and their descendants. They declared “His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Matthew 27:25). However, even amidst this rejection, Jesus, Himself a Jew, commissioned His Jewish disciples to spread His message among the Jewish people. They tirelessly carried out this mission until the catastrophic events of 70 AD led to the destruction of their nation by the Romans.
In the light of these historical events, a crucial lesson emerges: just as Jesus demonstrated profound love for His people, so should we. It's encouraging to witness that many Jews today are recognizing Jesus as their Messiah and seeking salvation in Him. The apostle Paul, deeply committed to the salvation of his Jewish brethren, fervently prayed for their redemption (Romans 10:1-4). He earnestly desired that they might find salvation and understand the righteousness of God in Christ.
These timeless lessons remind us to regard the Jews with love, understanding, and a desire for their salvation. This is in harmony and obedience to the universal call of Jesus to proclaim the gospel to every kindred, nation, tongue, and people.
Salvation for Jews
To gain further insights into the salvation of Jews, let’s examine Romans 11:2. Here, the apostle Paul emphatically states that Israel has not been cast away, citing his own conversion to Christ as evidence. Despite his role as the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul devoted himself to the salvation of the Jewish people throughout his ministry. In verse 7, he notes that " Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for." Verses 19-22 provide a clear message, emphasizing that Gentiles (that’s us) are grafted into the olive tree of the Jewish faith. Paul reminds us that some branches were broken off due to unbelief, while Gentiles stand by faith. He urges humility and fear, explaining that just as God “spared not” the natural branches, He may not spare the grafted ones if they do not continue in His goodness. (Romans 11:19-22).
These words, "spared not," inform us that as a nation, Paul considered the Jews no longer God's chosen people. However, on an individual level, they, like anyone else, can (and still do) attain salvation. Galatians 3:29 reinforces this idea by proclaiming that those who belong to Christ are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the God’s promise. The promises of Scripture are now extended to God's faithful people. God’s global family of believers today constitute the chosen people if they continue in His goodness (Romans 11:22).
Individually, Jews have an equal chance for salvation as Gentiles. During the early days of the Christian church, it was predominantly composed of Jews, and many embraced Christ's teachings. As Peter declared to the Jewish leaders, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). In essence, whether Jew or Gentile, salvation is through Jesus Christ. Today, we find an active community of Jewish Christians who bear witness to this timeless truth.
The Jews Scattered
The idea of the Jews returning to Israel and resuming their ancient sacrifices is a topic that prompts much discussion. Some think this is necessary or inevitable. However, it's essential to consider the profound changes brought by the life and sacrifice of Jesus. In Acts 4:8-13, Peter and John (both Jews), spoke to their fellow Jews, proclaiming Jesus as the sole name by which anyone can find salvation. The Bible is unequivocal in asserting that, as God's chosen people, Jews were included in the "we" of "we must be saved."
As far as God is concerned the sacrificial system was ended. A significant turning point was marked with the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God. He was the ultimate and final sacrifice, typified by the sacrificial system. This is emphatically declared in Matthew 27:51: "And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent." When God tore the temple veil from top to bottom, it signified the conclusion of animal sacrifices (along with the Old Covenant). While it's true that sacrifices persisted for a while after Jesus's death, their significance was lost. The ultimate Sacrifice had been offered.
In 70 AD, the Roman commander Titus besieged Jerusalem and fulfilled Jesus's prophecy that not one stone of the temple would be left upon another. Jewish zealots took refuge in the temple and engaged in resistance against the Romans. In response to the relentless attacks, the Roman soldiers set the temple ablaze, leading to the melting of its gold. The temple's destruction marked the end of an era, as the ancient sacrifices ceased to hold meaning, and God's redemptive plan continued to unfold.
The Jews Return to Israel
The modern birth of the State of Israel in 1948 was a historic event with profound political and social implications, but it did not occur as a result of a miraculous or prophetic intervention. Instead, it was driven by the aspirations of the Zionist movement and a complex outcome of various geopolitical factors, international agreements, and the aftermath of World War II. The Zionist vision was primarily a secular and political movement.
The establishment of Israel stemmed from political negotiations, the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, and the United Nations' approval of a partition plan in 1947. While the creation of Israel holds deep religious and cultural significance for many, it is primarily viewed as a result of human actions and decisions within the framework of international politics and historical circumstances.
The absence of a temple has meant a halt to sacrifices for the Jewish people. The yearning for a new Jewish temple is deeply ingrained in the hearts of many Jews. Interestingly, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem currently houses the Dome of the Rock, a significant Islamic Mosque. The presence of this mosque carries great historical and religious importance for the Muslims. Considering this backdrop, the idea of rebuilding the Jewish temple sparks complex debates. Removing the mosque to make way for a new temple would undoubtedly trigger substantial controversy and international tensions.
Jewish Inheritance: A Legacy of Promise and Faith
Throughout our exploration, we have witnessed the enduring saga of the Jewish people, marked by a legacy of promise and faith. God's covenant with Abraham, recounted in Genesis 12:7, laid the foundation for a profound inheritance—the land of Canaan. This promise, however, took time to fully materialize as God allowed Abraham's descendants to multiply and become a nation. The book of Joshua chronicles this journey, a testament to divine intervention as they overcame the land's inhabitants with the Lord's guidance.
Yet, there is a deeper dimension to this inheritance. Galatians 3:29 proclaims that those who belong to Christ are, in essence, "Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Every genuine Christian will inherit the heavenly Canaan, becoming recipients of the promise originally made to Abraham. It's worth noting that even Abraham anticipated a city with enduring foundations, fashioned by the very hand of God, as mentioned in Hebrews 11:10. This makes it clear the real promise to Abraham was about the heavenly kingdom. This heavenly promise, the true fulfillment, transcends earthly boundaries and time. Through Jesus, we secure our claim to an eternal kingdom that shall never pass away (Daniel 7:27).
God’s Chosen People Today
The collective rejection of Jesus by the Jewish nation redirected the course of their inheritance. That legacy has now passed on to those who have accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. Christians, grafted into the olive tree, must remain vigilant, as warned in Romans 11:21-22.
Had the Jewish nation embraced their Messiah, they would have been God's chosen instrument to carry the gospel to all the world. But with their refusal, the Christian church emerged, an imperfect vessel in its own right. John 1:10-12 paints a poignant picture of Jesus's own people failing to recognize Him, underscoring the profound importance of individual acceptance and divine grace. In conclusion, we are reminded that the story of God's chosen people extends far beyond earthly borders, inviting all to partake in a timeless message of faith, love, and salvation.