Israel: God's purpose illustrated

During our service today, we considered how Israel are God's chosen people. Most Christians would agree that the nation of Israel were once very much God's chosen people - with associated rights and benefits. But since Jesus came on the scene, the extent to which Israel remain God's chosen people is much-debated.

On the one side of the debate are those who claim Israel remain God's chosen people, and retain certain privileges. This is based on passages like Isa43:10, Rom11:26 and relatively recent evidence of the vastly improbable re-establishment of the state of Israel after WW2, and the survival of the country since then against all odds [I should add I have not actually seen this video so can't vouch for its quality!]. On the other side of the debate are those who claim that the privileged status of Israel before Jesus arrived has been transferred wholly to Christians, aka 'spiritual Israel' (e.g. Rom2:28-29).

I think it is useful to reflect on why Israel were chosen by God in the first place (Deut7:7-8):

'It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.'

I take from this that God did not choose Israel for any reason other than he chose them. (It does say because of God's promises to the patriarchs, but God caused Israel to spring up from the patriarchs, so this gets rather circular.) In a sense, this was an arbitrary choice. God could have chosen Wales or New Jersey to illustrate his purpose (ok, I get the geographical issues with those two - but you get my point). With this in mind, I think it's entirely possible that Israel remain firmly God's chosen people to illustrate his purpose but salvation comes through Jesus alone. Since when was being an Israelite ever a free ticket to salvation? It always has been and forever will be about individuals who live a life of faith in God.

By Jon