Does the Bible Describe the Identity of God's Chosen People?
The terrible, tragic events now taking place in the Middle East between Israeli forces and Hamas have created intense confusion in the minds of many today, which has resulted in millions taking sides and placing blame on either Israel or on Hamas when the reality of that human suffering has now affected everyone living in the area.
When women, children, and thousands of lives are being taken by both Israel and Hamas, there are no innocent parties in the conflict. While Hamas finds its roots as an Islamic Resistance Movement, both Israel and Hamas are rooted in the family of Abraham and thousands of years of increasing conflict and the present human suffering that has become the natural result.
Those, especially within the Zionist mindset of premillennialism, continue to look for a “yet future” time when national Israel will somehow again arise and be seen as God’s true covenant people. However, such a notion falls short of what the Bible actually teaches regarding the relationship between the “natural” and the “spiritual” (I Cor. 15:46). Nowhere in Scripture is any evidence provided that would lead one to conclude an abandonment of the “spiritual” followed by a return to the “natural” as it pertains to Israel. Jesus warned Israel, “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it'” (Matt. 21:43).
The “axe” of Divine Judgment had already been laid at the “root of the tree” (Matt. 3:10), and their “house” was being left “desolate” (Matt. 23:38). The pronouncement had been given by Christ and upon those of “this generation” (Matt. 23:36; 24:34)–in the first century, that the Old Covenant temple, people, and nation were standing at the threshold of “the end of all things” (I Pet. 4:7), and during the forty years of “last days” (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21), the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16) was to be “preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14; 28:18-20). Those hearing the gospel of Christ were told to, “…Save yourselves from this twisted generation!” (Acts 2:40 TLV).
GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE
The Bible nowhere teaches “replacement theology” but rather a fulfillment of the “promises made to the fathers” (Rom. 15:8) and of an “inheritance” rooted in those very same “promises” that were to be received by those identified as God’s New Covenant people (Gal. 4:7; Rom. 8:17; I Cor. 6:9). God’s inclusive “purpose of the ages” (Eph. 3:11) was to bring together, into “one body” (Eph. 4:4) both Jew/Gentile, taken from “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Rev. 7:9; 14:6) who enter “into Christ” by faith and obedience to the gospel (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:26, 27). No longer was sonship offered or identified in the “natural” sense, as had been the case with the physical “seed” of Abraham as Gentiles were being “grafted into” the “root” of the Abrahamic “promise” (Rom. 11:16-24). During the “last days” people from the “nations” were being called by the “gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16), and entering into Israel’s “spiritual things” (Rom. 15:27) to stand alongside them as “fellow heirs” (Eph. 3:6).
Today, the Jews in Israel and anyone else in this world must come through this same door JESUS! The apostle Peter writes:
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9).
The first-century issue of true sonship and inheritance is contrasted by the apostle Paul in his allegory:
“for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children – the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:25, 26). When you learn to distinguish between the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem, you will never say those who deny Christ are somehow His chosen people. ”Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now” (Gal. 4:28, 29). Believers are the children of the promise. The issue of Isaac and Ishmael in the allegory, in the contrast of being “born according to the flesh” over against being “born according to the Spirit” remains the very essence and heart of the gospel.
There is sonship and equality in Christ… “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6) Galatians 5:11-12 “And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!” (Gal. 5:11, 12).
This was Paul’s opinion of those who believe like the Israel of today. Paul says he wishes they would castrate themselves!!! Yet today we see Christians flying banners in full support. The conflict would end today if they believed Christ and His words, as Paul states here. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14) Amen Paul !!!
It is certain that Paul would be appalled to hear what is being taught in churches today. What will be preached in numerous pulpits this morning… That those who deny Christ are His chosen people! To deny Christ is to deny God. When one belongs to Christ, he becomes Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal.3:29). The true identity of God’s people has nothing to do with whether or not you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision (Rom 2:28, 29). No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
Therefore, it is not who’s blood you have in your veins that counts anymore – That’s Old Covenant way to propagate the Kingdom- Rather who’s faith you have in your heart. God sees mankind in two lenses either one is “in Christ” or he is not! For the Jews in Israel, or anyone else in this world to be considered God’s chosen people, they must come through the door of Christ Jesus -to say anything less is most certainly a slap in Christ’s face and thus undermines the true Gospel message! No Christian is second best to the Jews in Israel today!
It is certain, the time will come when the conflict taking place in Israel today comes to an end. There are no winners in this war, only increased tragedy and loss of life. As Christians, it must be our prayer and earnest desire that peace be established in that region of the world. This can only happen through acceptance of Christ as the glorified “…Prince of Peace, Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:6, 7). “For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation” (Luke 1:49, 50).
[By Larry Siegle and Chris Palios]