In hearing a recent sermon by renowned pastor, John MacArthur, of Grace to You Ministries wherein he stated that today’s Jews are God’s chosen people and that God has a separate plan of redemption for Jews and Gentiles (dual covenant theology), I felt compelled to write a biblical and historical retort.
Are today’s Jews really God’s chosen people?
In a nutshell . . . No! In fact, not all of Abraham’s physical descendants were children of the Old Testament Abrahamic covenant. Nor were all of them children of the promise. God made his covenant with a person “Abraham” and not a nation, and it was by faith that he and his descendants were justified by God, not national origin (Gen. 15:6, Rom. 4:3-22, Jas. 2:23).
Moreover, it was Isaac, his second-born, supernaturally selected by the Spirit, and not Ishmael who was born of the flesh by his bondservant Hagar, through whom God’s blessings would flow (Gen. 21:12).
Then through Isaac’s twin sons, by His sovereign right and election, God chose Jacob and rejected Esau to carry forth the Abrahamic seed promise of God. Covenants were always ratified by faith not by flesh.
Four hundred years later God made a conditional covenant with Moses and the Jewish people. It was faith again and not physical lineage that would determine inclusion or exclusion for those “called” as “God’s Chosen People.”
Under this nationalistic, Mosaic covenant, God set the ethnic nation of Israel apart from other nations, and brought them into a conditional covenant relationship with him. One of those conditions was to be holy (Lev. 20:24, 26) and would provide either blessings or cursings (Exod. 19:5; Deut. 28). Membership was restricted to Israelites, but could be gained or lost. Gentiles could be included via proselyte laws (circumcision, ritual cleansing, repentance, obedience to the Torah, and renouncing their natural parentage and heritage. Israelites who committed certain high sins and refused to repent were excommunicated, treated as pagans. Through their unbelief, hardening, idolatry, or refusal to keep the Law, they lost their citizenship and covenant privileges. Again, it was faith, not flesh, that was the basis of inclusion.
Then with the birth of Christ, the long promised and prophesied New Covenant broke into human history (Jer. 31:31-37; Ezek. 16:60; 36:26,27), two designations for one identical people. The “Israel of God” and “God’s Chosen People” were covenantally redefined (Gal. 3:16; 26-29; 4:21-31; 6:15-16; Acts 2:16-21; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). The basis of inclusion or exclusion changed (John 3:1-8; Luke 19:9) and extended to the whole world (Matt. 21:43).
Jesus clearly delineated His “Faith-Only” inclusiveness and the dichotomous division within the Jewish people of His day when he said:
“Many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).
“You belong to your father the devil”( John 8:44a, Rev. 2:9, 3:9).
“Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham” (Matt. 3:9).
Even before Jesus, Isaiah had prophesied of this contrast between these two Jewish groups and their different destinies (Isa. 65:7-16). Hosea likewise prophesied about many Jews, “Ye are not my people” (Hos. 1:9-10; 2:23). They were only Jews outwardly, not inwardly (Matt. 3:9; John 8:37,39; Rom. 2:28,29). The apostle Paul confirmed as much “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6). It’s obvious that either a Jew or a Gentile could be a member of Israel physically, nationally, culturally, and religiously without being a member of the true Israel—spiritually. Inclusion was never grounded in physical/biological descendancy.
Although God chose Israel out of all the nations (Amos 3:2) to be a people of Himself, a witness to the nations, the conduit for His revelation, and through whom the Messiah would come, the whole nation of Israel never was “God’s Chosen People.” It was only the faithful remnant (Rom. 9:27; 11:5; Isa. 10:20-22) of that time. That’s why today neither the modern day nation of Israel nor all the ethnic Jews worldwide comprise of “God’s Chosen People.” Who counts as the true Israel, the children of the promise, was never determined by a blood-line or a race-line, but by a faith-line (Gal. 3:6-9). In Old Covenant times, only the righteous remnant of Israel were considered “God’s Chosen People” and the true Israel of God. Today, Abraham’s real descendants (“seed”) are believers in Jesus Christ whether they are racially Jews or Gentiles. It’s a level playing field, the ultimate in fulfilled bible prophecy—one common denominator, one road to redemption for all mankind . . . Jesus Christ.
Until next time . . . Wake Up America!
Kevin A. Lehmann
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