The United States, both its people and its government, have generally been supportive of Israel over the years. While I personally believe this is good, it is not for the reason that is often given by those who are or want to sound religious. Many today will say that we need to support Israel because the Jews are God’s chosen people. The necessary conclusion then is that if we want to remain in God’s good favor, we must continue to support the nation of Israel. This reasoning is faulty and without Biblical support.
This is not to say that the Jews were never God’s chosen people. The Scriptures plainly tell us that they were. Notice what Moses told the children of Israel after their deliverance from Egypt:
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
God’s choosing of the Jewish people was not due to their size, but simply because He loved them and because of the oath He made with Abraham. But it is important to notice that this promise and covenant was conditioned upon their obedience to God.
“Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers” (Deuteronomy 7:12).
God’s blessings would come as a result of their listening to God and keeping His commandments. But what if they refused to do this?
“It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:19-20).
Sadly, the Old Testament record shows us that time and time again the children of Israel chose to rebel against God. However, the Lord was patient. Even when Jesus came, He was sent “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). But the time of the Jews being God’s chosen people was soon coming to an end as they would defiantly reject Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as their Messiah.
“Pilate said to them, ‘Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?’ They all said, ‘Crucify Him!’ And he said, ‘Why, what evil has He done?’ But they kept shouting all the more, saying, ‘Crucify Him!’
“When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.’ And all the people said, ‘His blood shall be on us and on our children!’
“Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified” (Matthew 27:22-26).
Pilate recognized that Jesus had done nothing to deserve death. In a futile attempt to absolve himself from guilt, he washed his hands and told the crowd to do what they wanted to do with Jesus. The Jews here were more than willing to accept blame for Jesus’ death, even going so far as to bind upon their children the blame and consequences for this act.
“So they cried out, ‘Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar’” (John 19:15).
When the Jews called for Jesus’ crucifixion, they pledged their allegiance to Caesar, the Roman ruler who was exalted as though he was a god. They rejected Jesus, the one who was divinely chosen to be their King.
“There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, ‘Jesus the Nazarene, The King of the Jews.’
“Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”; but that He said, “I am King of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written’” (John 19:18-22).
Whatever Pilate’s motive, he deliberately made it plain to all observers of the crucifixion that the King of the Jews was hanging on that cross. The Jews, of course, rejected that idea and protested Pilate’s decision. Yet it was fitting that Pilate put this sign on the cross. It was here at the cross that the Jewish nation, as a collective group, ceased to be God’s chosen people. Because they refused to believe in Christ, they were cut off (Romans 11:20).
But if this is the case, who are God’s chosen people today? Peter, in writing to Christians, told them that they were now God’s chosen people.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
We noticed earlier in Deuteronomy that one of the reasons why God initially chose Israel was because of the promise made to their forefathers – Abraham in particular. While the Jews prided themselves in being Abraham’s descendants, John reminded them that “from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).
So the Jews, by their disobedience and failure to keep their covenant with God, forfeited their status as God’s chosen people. Who are the ones God has raised in their place to be Abraham’s children?
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).
Those who belong to Christ are now Abraham’s descendants. Who are those who belong to Christ? Paul explained that they are those who have faith and have put on Christ in baptism. Following this, as “people for His own possession,” He expects us to be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). If we fail to do this, we stand to be cut off as well. Paul wrote, “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either” (Romans 11:21). Therefore, we become part of God’s chosen people through faithful obedience and remain part of His chosen people through faithful obedience as well.
But the assertion that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people does not imply that they have no hope of salvation. Paul wrote, “And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again” (Romans 11:23). In order for the Jews to be restored into God’s favor (grafted in again), they need to accept Christ as the Messiah and, in faith, be baptized into Him.
Previously, one became part of God’s people by means of physical birth. Now it occurs by spiritual birth when we are born again through the waters of baptism (John 3:3, 5; 1 Peter 1:22-23). This salvation is not limited to one race. Rather, Jesus told His apostles, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Everyone who does this – Jew or Gentile – will become one of Abraham’s descendants, part of God’s chosen people, and heirs of the promise of eternal life.