Psalm 135:4 “For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession.”
Most of us have heard the term “God’s chosen people” as applied to the nation of Israel. When one hears this who is not a Jew, a typical reaction might be “What about me? Are the Jews better than me? Does God love the Jews more than He loves the French, the Arabs, or the non-Jews of the USA?” When Jesus walked on the earth, it was clear that the Jewish answer to these questions would have been “Yes.”
The Jews of the first century typically despised those who weren’t like them. The viewed Gentiles as “dogs” and Samaritans as worse than dogs. And they hated the Christians as well, as demonstrated by the persecution of Saul. It was David, as he faced Goliath, who spoke of him as an “uncircumcised Philistine;” a term of derision and disgust. Of course, the feeling was mutual. The Samaritan woman at the well reminded Jesus that “the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” For the most part, things are no different today, as is evident in the Arab – Israeli conflicts of our day.
So, in what sense is the Jewish nation “chosen,” i.e., “special” in God’s eyes. Does God love the Jews most? What about the rest of us? What are we if they are the chosen ones? Well, one of the things that this does not mean is that God loves the Jews more than He loves everyone else. The Bible tells us clearly that “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). It’s interesting that it was Peter, a Jew through and through, who said this. And it was Jesus, a Jew, who told us that “God so loved “the world” – (not just the Jews) – that He gave His only begotten son” (John 3:16).
Perhaps an indication of the meaning of this “choosing” is seen in God’s words to Abraham in Genesis 22:18: “in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” I’ve thought of the analogy of how a person chooses godparents for their own children. This choice is not made because one loves the godparent more than his or her own children; the choice is made because of one’s love for their own children. It is through the godparent that one hopes to instill their own values, care, and love on their children if they aren’t there to do so. Yes, a godparent is certainly one who is loved and trusted by a parent – but they are loved and trusted not just because of who they are, but for what they are being asked to do – to care for the children that a parent loves more than his or her own life.
In a similar sense God chose the Jewish nation so that He could bless the entire world through them. It was to the Jews that God gave His holy Word. It was to the Jews that God established the tabernacle and the temple which were shadows of His coming Son. And it was through the Jewish line that God sent us Jesus – through people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, and a young Jewish girl named Mary. In that sense, certainly, the Jews have a very unique and privileged role.
But that privilege was not because the Jews were any better than anyone else. It was through Paul, another Jew, that God has told us “that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.” God’s choice of Israel was a sovereign thing, a blessing that came to them from a loving God not because of who they were but in spite of it. And it is that same sovereign choice, unmerited by any of us, who, whether Jew or Gentile, are included in these wonderful words from God through Peter: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Praise the name of the Lord.