I have a question, is the nation of Israel still God’s chosen people?
The reason behind my question is that our church has suggested that we should join the boycots against Israel.
I have a question, is the nation of Israel still God’s chosen people?
I appreciate this interesting question and I look forward to learning from different people’s answers.
Whether or not we should join boycotts is off-topic for RZIM Connect (“Political discussions are always off-topic”).
But, the theological question regarding the nation of Israel as God’s chosen people is within the scope of our discussions here.
As one starting point for reflection, I wanted to share an argument from Sam Storms in his book Kingdom Come:
One of the primary metaphors in the Old Testament of Israel’s rootedness in the land is that of the vineyard. We see this in numerous texts, such as Hosea 10:1 (“Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit”); as well as Jeremiah 2:21; 5:10; 12:11f.; Ezekiel 15:1-8; 17:1-10; 19:10-14; and Isaiah 5:7 (“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel”); 27:2-6. The most explicit statement is found in Psalm 80:7-11,
7Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved! 8You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. 9You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land. 10The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. 11It set out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River.
But as Burge points out, “the crux for John 15 is that Jesus is changing the place of rootedness for Israel. The commonplace prophetic metaphor (the land as vineyard, the people of Israel as vines) now undergoes a dramatic shift. God’s vineyard, the land of Israel, now has only one vine: Jesus. The people of Israel cannot claim to be planted as vines in the land; they cannot be rooted in the vineyard unless first they are grafted into Jesus.” God the vinedresser “now has one vine growing in his vineyard. And the only means of attachment to the land is through this one vine, Jesus Christ.”
As I dive into other commentaries on John 15, I see similar teaching. For instance, Robert Mounce argues in his commentary on John 15:1,
It is much more plausible that behind the figure lay the many OT references to Israel as a vine. In Psalm 80 Israel is a “vine out of Egypt” (v. 8) that “took root and filled the land” (v. 9) but now is “cut down” and “burned with fire” (v. 16). The prophet Isaiah pictured Israel as “the vineyard of the LORD” (Isa 5:7), which “yielded only bad fruit” (5:2). Jeremiah called Israel a “corrupt, wild vine” (Jer 2:21), and Ezekiel referred to the people living in Jerusalem as a charred and useless vine (Eze 15:2–5). In the OT, wherever Israel is symbolized as a vine it is always depicted as decadent and corrupt. It is against this background that Jesus says he is the “true [i.e., “genuine” or “real”] vine.” The same adjective (alēthinos, GK 240) was used earlier to describe Jesus as the “true bread from heaven” (6:32). In contrast to Israel, the vine of God that failed to produce the expected fruit, Jesus comes to them as the “true vine.”
In light of this, it seems to me that the Scriptures teach that it is those who are connected to the true vine - those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus - who are the people of God.
I think the reason why some people say that the nation of Israel is no longer the chosen people is because they hold to some form of “Replacement Theology”. I personally disagree with this view. My interpretation of Romans 11 is that Gentiles through faith in Christ are “grafted-in” to Israel who has faith in Christ. Israel is merely experiencing a temporary hardening of heart(broken off branches), so that the full number of Gentiles can come in (Romans 11:25-29). After which time they will be grafted back in (Romans 11:23-24) through faith in Christ. Also, Romans 11 begins with a reassurance that God did not reject Israel.
Romans 11:1 King James Version (KJV)
11 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
and towards the end of Romans 11, a similar reassurance to the nation of Israel is made.
Romans 11:28-29 King James Version (KJV)
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
So, Israel is still beloved(Romans 11:28) by God and are still in His plan.
Here are some additional resources that I found helpful.
John Ankerberg Show - What is the problem with how Replacement theologians interpret the Bible?
Michael Brown - Has The Church Replaced Israel?
Thank you Jonothan. As I read your input I see that unaware of what I was doing (I’ve never heard of ‘replacement theology’), I was doing that in response to my friends’ question.
You have given me food for thought, and I thank you for that.
Wow! Thank you Carson. You have truly widened the scope of study. As I said to Jonothan, I was in the ‘replacement theology’ camp. Now I have to dig further and revisit my current view.
Thanks for the homework.
Yes, @joncarp, I agree. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3 that He’d bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him. I would caution anyone against getting on the wrong side of God concerning the seed of Abraham!
As you’ve noted, the Bible does say that Israel will be temporarily disciplined by God as they are set aside while God turns to the harvesting of the Gentiles. If you focus only on the passages that teach that, you could come away with an incomplete picture and a false impression that they are a “has been” nation.
But Romans 11:25-26 shows that when the fulness of the Gentile harvest comes in, God will return His attention to the salvation of all Israel. That will be when the Deliverer comes out of Zion and turns away ungodliness from Jacob. Then Christ will rule the world from the throne of David in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32) and the twelve apostles will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28) for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4).
But doesn’t Romans 2:28-29 say that real Jews aren’t those who are circumcised in the flesh, but in the heart?
Absolutely! But lest anyone misunderstand, he continues in the very next verse, Romans 3:1, to point out the advantages that still pertain to the Jewish people. He says in verse 2 that there are many of them, but he postpones that seven-fold list until later in Romans 9:4-5. But he does go ahead and say that their chief advantage is being the People of the Book – the oracles of God – because that one’s relative to the point he makes next in verse 3.
“For what if some,” those Pharisees who crucified Jesus and the mob that participated – “what if some did not believe” that Jesus was their true Messiah? “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God” – that is, the faithfulness of God to His own covenants made to Abraham and David and the rest – shall they “make the faith of God of none effect” – will God abandon His promises to the nation?
Paul is articulating in this passage the very arguments he’s encountered in synagogues throughout the Roman world. He’s heard it all before.
“So, Paul, does this mean that we ethnic Jews have been replaced by a church full of Gentiles? Are you saying that God will not honor the covenants He made with Abraham and David? Because the majority of us Jews have not believed, will our unbelief make the faithfulness of God’s promises to our people of no effect?”
And Paul’s emphatic answer is, God forbid! Later, in chapter 11, he’ll point out that the majority has never mattered. There’s always been a faithful remnant of true believers – even when it may have seemed there were none. Elijah thought he was the only one left, and God told him, “No, Elijah – I still have thousands of faithful Jews following Me!”
True believers have always been only a remnant – even when the culture made it popular to be religious, genuine Jews in the Old Testament or Christians in the New were always a minority. And when it became unpopular, and many fell away, it was nothing more than the Lord pruning out the dead branches – the crowd that says, “Lord, Lord…have we not done many wonderful works”.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14 that there’s a wide path for the many and a narrow path for the few. And it’s always been that way. The majority of Jews rejecting their Messiah was nothing new. Hey – a majority of Gentiles rejected Him too! The majority still rejects Him to this day – just as the majority of Old Testament Jews claimed to worship the Lord while despising His word.
So, no – God won’t abandon his covenants with Israel because the majority rejected the gospel. He’ll bring the faithful remnant through fires and floods, build them into a kingdom, and rule over all the world through them for a thousand years.
It’s unfortunate that Replacement Theologians today actually disagree with Paul on this – that some churches teach exactly what these Jews in Romans 3:3 were objecting to. What Paul said God forbid to, some preachers now say Amen to. They say that because Israel largely rejected their Messiah, God has now replaced Israel with the Church.
Well, I think there are some really strange things going on over in Israel these days for a people whom God has abandoned!
I mean, if the Jewish people during their 2000-year dispersion had been absorbed and ceased to exist as any other group would have done, I could’ve gone along with this Replacement Theology idea.
But they not only survived all the odds against them – they actually got their nation back in 1948. They got their capitol back two years ago. And just last year, they got the Golan Heights and the West Bank along the Jordan back. None of this seems to me to be moving in the direction of God abandoning them!
What it seems to be moving toward is the Second Coming! Israel back in its homeland with Jerusalem as its capital!
Paul’s answer to Replacement Theology in verse 4 is, Let God be true, but every man a liar. That is, if God promises Abraham something, and the whole world says it won’t happen, who do you think’s going to win?
And then to seal the issue, he quotes Psalm 51:4 – that thou mightiest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
God’s integrity is at stake here. The reliability of His promises is on the line. When God makes literal promises, He doesn’t give figurative fulfillments.
Israel is God’s chosen people and I support Israel as a people and as a soveryn nation.
I’ve always understood the Church to be God’s heavenly people, the bride of Christ and the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Israel, on the other hand, is God’s earthly people. Their rejection of the Messiah and continued rebellion towards Him does not change God’s will or promises to Abraham. They were not chosen because they were more righteous than any other nation or people. In fact there are many passages in the Bible in which they are called a stiff-necked people. (We are all under sin of course; none of us can stand before God apart from Christ’s work of redemption and are, by grace, accepted in the Beloved.) My question though is why we feel the need to boycott any business or nation? I suppose as individuals we can choose to not buy from someone, but as a local church? I don’t think that’s the job of a church. We are called to pray fervently. I daresay we are not doing our job there. We need to pray for our leaders that they might make right decisions; after all in Proverbs we read that the heart of the king is in the Lord’s hands like a river of water, and He can turn it whichever way He wants.
@jlyons when you say, “the salvation of all Israel” do you literally mean every single Jew regardless of whether they believe Jesus is the Messiah or do you mean more specifically every Jew that believes Jesus is the Messiah but not every Jew by blood?
When I say “the salvation of all Israel”, @N0tThe1ne, I am referring to Romans 11:26 which says, “all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” - referring to Isaiah 59:20.
So the short answer to your question is that every single Jew who enters the long awaited kingdom of God on earth will be a believer in Christ as their Messiah. If you’re interested in the longer explanation of this, then read on:
I believe this national salvation takes place in three stages during the seven year war in which Christ conquers all the kingdoms of this world.
The first stage is the seven seals (Revelation chapters 6-7) during which 144,000 Jewish evangelists become the firstfruits (Rev. 14:4) of this national turning. They then carry the gospel throughout the world winning countless multitudes from every nation under the sun (Rev. 7:1-14) until Christ returns to rule the world (Matthew 24:14).
The second stage is the seven trumpets (Rev. 8-11) during which the survivors of the Jerusalem earthquake turn to the Lord (Rev. 11:13). They then begin spreading the gospel outward to every city and hamlet throughout Israel until the return of Christ (Matthew 10:23).
The third stage is the seven vials during which the evangelism set in motion among Gentiles by the 144,000 and among Jews by the Jerusalem converts continues until everyone has heard and decided for or against the message of Christ - and then every eye shall see Him.
Christ will then exact two judgments to purge out any unbelieving survivors that remain.
The judgment of the surviving Gentiles is described in Matthew 25:31-46. How they treated His brethren will reveal whether they genuinely trusted Him - and the righteous will enter into His Millennial Kingdom - the lost will be cast into outer darkness.
The judgment of the surviving Jews is described in Ezekiel 20:33-38. Making them “pass under the rod” describes how a shepherd at the door of the fold would gather in his sheep with his rod poised over the door to come down and steer away any that were not his own. Zechariah 13:8 reveals that only one-third of the Jewish people will survive the Tribulation and this concluding judgment.
And once the Tribulation survivors have been purged of any remaining unbelievers, both Gentile and Jew, then the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will begin as the opening celebration of the thousand year Kingdom of Christ.
So in seven years, the world will go from 0% believers in the moment after the Rapture to 100% believers at the start of the Kingdom.
So yes - literally every Jew (and Gentile too) who enters the Millennial reign will be saved.
I hope I have not over answered you, but that I’ve given you what you were looking for.
As a footnote, I will add that there are many different views concerning end time events, and not everyone would agree with the scenario I have outlined - but this one is a very mainstream view and very easily supported by the rest of scripture.
Thank you for outlining your views on this topic. I’m aware that there are multiple takes on eschatology but I appreciate you sharing yours. Would you affirm that although you believe every Jew who enters the millennial reign will be saved that there are countless other Jews throughout world history who did not believe or follow God that will not be saved regardless of their national heritage?
Oh, absolutely @N0tThe1ne - neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved - than the name of Jesus Christ - the cornerstone which the Jewish builders tragically rejected!
I think it’s important to look at what Scripture refers to as the seed of Abraham. There are three different meanings of “seed,” and in order to be able to discern which one is being used, we have to look at the context in which it is being used. I was going to write it all out, but these guys have done a good job.
Yes, excellent article @psalm151ls – no dispute with anything said.
Also, nothing said disputes the widespread evangelical position that Christians should be friends of the Jewish people because they are still chosen of God to fulfill even more blessings to all the world. If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
As for the relevance of Genesis 12:3, check out another questions.org article:
Hm, where did you see me arguing against this in what I said? I didn’t really say anything about what is meant by the seed of Abraham in regard to whether we should be friends of the Jewish people…in fact, I said I agree with some of what you said. So with what are you arguing?
I also will point out that just because something is “widespread” does not automatically make it true. Not too long ago, it was “widespread” that slavery was endorsed by the Bible. Popularity does not prove the truth of the claim.
I apologize - I misunderstood your intention. Please forgive my rashness!
It is true that widespread does not equal true. But it does compel one to consider why it is widespread. If it makes sense to a large part of the Body of Christ, then it should be challenged more thoughtfully than some fringe idea. Not that fringe equals false either - but it will usually have a lot more explaining to do, a lot more to overcome.
By referring to the position as widespread among evangelicals, I was endeavoring to show that it is not a frivolous view.
Again, I am sorry and even embarrassed for having misread you before.
No need to be embarrassed This is a place for discussion, and I was trying to understand where you were coming from with arguing further.
I wouldn’t say the position opposite ours is a fringe opinion. It is widespread and has had a place in scholarly discussion for some time. However, I have been taught the position that says that Christians should support Israel for the reason that even though the Church (made up of all ethnicities, including Messianic Jews) is God’s people, Israel still has a unique role to play. We have a very good Bible teacher at the church, and he has been my mentor for a few years now. However, I think there is value in looking into these things more deeply myself. This is one subject I have yet to do that with . So I don’t really hold a firm position either way yet.
And thank God for good Bible teachers!
Thank YOU for outlining how you put things together. I’m going to give this some study and might get back to you with some questions . I think, too, how people see things will depend on how they see the events of Revelation. I know our Bible teacher puts together Romans, Revelation, and Daniel when talking about this subject. It’s just difficult for me to remember exactly how he pieces things together since I haven’t gone into it in any depth myself in my personal studies.
Thanks again, @jlyons
Be glad to any time - thanks!