Does the Bible Really Call the Jews God’s Chosen People?

The Bible predicts a unique future role for the Jews that will eventually bring blessing to all the nations of the earth. It tells us that Israel will be “a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”(Deuteronomy 14:2) 1

An important indication of her future role is found in God’s covenant with Abraham:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3 NIV).

The fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham involves much more than the nation of Israel (See the ATQ article, Who Are the Descendants of Abraham?). We believe that God’s promises to Israel apply most completely to the future converted nation of Israel. Israel will again be in the land and possess a new heart demonstrated by humble obedience to God, and an ethical and national consensus that is beneficial for all the nations of the world.

These are the grounds for our belief. God made a promise to Abraham:

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God (Genesis 17:7-8 NIV).

Further, God specified that the land of Canaan would be given to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac:

But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned” (Genesis 21:12 NIV).

However, while the passing of the title to the land to the descendants of Abraham through Isaac is eternal and unconditional, God made it clear that Israel’s actual possession and enjoyment of the land was conditioned upon her spiritual state. God made it clear that disobedience would result in Israel’s banishment from the land:

If you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all His commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please Him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess. Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other (Deuteronomy 28:15, 63-64 NIV).

God also made it clear that national repentance would result in restoration of God’s blessing and promise:

The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as He delighted in your fathers, if you obey the LORD your God and keep His commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 30:9-10 NIV).

Later Old Testament prophets described Israel’s sin, and its consequences ( Isaiah 1:1-24 ; Amos 3-6 ; Hosea 2:2-13 ). In the intervening centuries the people of Israel have been persecuted as no other nation in history, and yet they have been preserved as God promised (Jeremiah 33:19-26 ). Looking to the future, Scripture seems to indicate that:

  • Israel will again return to the land ( Jeremiah 23:7-8; Ezekiel 36:24-32 ). The present nation of Israel may be the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise.
  • Along with the rest of the earth, Israel’s greatest trial is still ahead ( Matthew 24:15-22; Jeremiah 30:7 ).
  • Israel will be preserved and refined through this tribulation and recognize Jesus Christ as her Messiah ( Zechariah 12:10; 13:1,8-9 ; Romans 11:25-32 ).
  • After this, Jesus Christ will rule and reign on the earth for 1,000 years ( Acts 3:19-26 ; Revelation 20:1-6 ; Zechariah 14:9-21 ).
  1. The notes of the New Scofield Reference Bible provide this concise statement regarding Israel’s unique role:
    Israel was called to be a witness to the unity of God in the midst of universal idolatry (Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-12 ); to illustrate the blessedness of serving the true God (Deuteronomy 33:26-29 ); to receive and preserve the divine revelations (Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Romans 3:1,2 ); and to be the human channel for the Messiah (Genesis 21:12;28:10,14; 49:10 ; 2Samuel 7:16,17 ; Isaiah 7:13-14; Matthew 1:1 ). Back To Article
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