God Wants More For You. So Do We.

Are the Jews Still God’s Chosen People Today?

Ask Pastor Alex, Ep. 10

This is the Ask Pastor Alex podcast with your host, Pastor Alex.
All right, welcome back to the podcast. We’re here with another episode and another question.
And the question for this episode is, are the Jews still the people of God today? And
that’s an interesting question. It’s actually one that I’ve been asked many times in my
life since becoming a Christian. And one of the reasons that is so interesting is because
I always want to know, well, what do you even mean by that? Like, we use that terminology.
We use that phrase, people of God, all the time. And especially in relation to this question
about the Jews, are the Jews still the people of God? Well, what do you actually mean by
that? Because I feel like oftentimes when people use this phrase of the Jewish people,
they almost seem to believe that every Jewish person will be saved. Like, they get an automatic
you’re going to heaven card just because they have a Jewish lineage. And that’s just not
the case. And it’s strange that Christians would believe that considering the fact that
the Bible teaches that the only people who will be saved are those who repent and believe,
who put all their trust in Jesus alone. There is no salvation outside of Christ. And so
there’s no biblical reason at all to believe that any person or any group of people, even
the Jews, will be saved apart from repentance and faith in Christ. So what does it actually
mean, this phrase, people of God? What did it mean initially when it was first used of
Israel? What’s interesting is immediately after he delivers them from out of Egypt,
we read in Exodus 19, 5-6, this is the Lord speaking and he says, Now therefore, if you
will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among
all the peoples. For all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests
and a holy nation. Now notice that within the context of the old covenant, their privilege
as the people of God was conditional. If, there’s a big if there, if they obeyed, and
if they kept the covenant, they would be God’s covenant people out of all the people on earth.
Another notice that this privilege of being the people of God, it came with a purpose.
They were to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, which means essentially that
Israel was meant to take the message of Yahweh to the surrounding nations. They were to be
a light to the nations. You can read about that in Isaiah chapter 49 when God calls on
Israel as his servant to serve as a light to the Gentiles, to the nations. They were
to tell the nations about Yahweh, the one true God. They were to tell them to turn from
their sins and put their faith in him. And so as God’s chosen people, Israel was to remain
faithful to the covenant. If they were to remain faithful, they would be God’s treasured
possession and they were to spread the knowledge of the Lord to the nations. Well, here’s the
problem. And I think we all know what the problem is. The problem is that Israel failed
to be what God called them to be, and they failed to do what God called them to do. They
failed as the people of God. They were consistently disobedient and unfaithful to the Lord and
to his covenant. And when that happened, you can read all throughout the Old Testament,
the Lord brought judgment upon them. He brought the curses of the covenant upon them. And
this cycle repeated throughout all of Israel’s history. And not only that, but the people
of Israel also failed to be the light to the nations in the kingdom of priests that they
were called to be. I mean, God essentially tells them, hey, go to the nations, be a light
to the nations. And in most of the Old Testament, Israel just staying in their own place, not
going to the nations, right? I mean, if you read the Old Testament, it seems like the
only kind of missionary story we read about is when Jonah begrudgingly goes to Nineveh
to preach. And of course it’s begrudgingly because he didn’t want to go and God had to
send a whale to swallow him and take him to Nineveh. And that seems to be the only time
that we even read about some sort of missionary activity on the part of the people of Israel
to go and reach the pagan nations. And so by the end of the Old Testament, the people
of Israel had failed as the people of God. But then starts the New Testament and here
comes Jesus. Jesus comes on the scene and he succeeds everywhere that humanity and Israel
failed. He was faithful in all the places that we were unfaithful and that they were
unfaithful. And what’s really cool is if you just read the first four chapters of the book
of Matthew, you will literally see Jesus reliving Israel’s history and being faithful and obedient
everywhere that they failed. I mean, it’s really cool if you’ve never done this before.
So if you just open up to Matthew and look at the first four chapters, you’ll see things
like the fact that Israel was called the Son of God and they were called out of Egypt.
Well, Matthew tells us that Jesus was called the Son of God and God called Jesus out of
Egypt. We see an evil ruler who sought to eliminate the people of Israel and their deliverer
by killing all male children two years old and younger. We read in Matthew that an evil
ruler sought to eliminate Jesus by killing all male children two years old and younger.
After leaving Egypt, the people of Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea,
after which time God proclaimed them to be his treasured possession. Well, we read in
the New Testament after Jesus left Egypt, he passed through the waters of the Jordan
in baptism, after which time God proclaimed him to be his beloved son. After passing through
the waters, Israel wandered about in the wilderness for 40 years, constantly given into temptations
from the devil. Well, Jesus, after he passed through the waters, he wandered in the wilderness
alone for 40 days, withstanding temptations from the devil. And very interestingly, after
Jesus rebukes Satan and begins his public ministry, Matthew quotes in Old Testament
scripture to show how Jesus fulfills Israel’s purpose, saying, The people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them
a light has dawned. In other words, Jesus is the faithful, obedient Son that Israel
was supposed to be, and he is the light of the world and the light to the world that
Israel was supposed to be. So the New Testament makes very clear Jesus is the true Israel
of God. And so we begin to think about, well, who are the people of God now? Who are the
ones that God treasures, and who are the ones who are to serve as lights to the world? Well,
it’s the church. Or another way of saying that is, it’s all people who have repented
of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for salvation. Or even another way to say
that is, it’s all those who are in Christ. Everybody in Christ, all those in Christ,
they are the people of God today. And there’s great biblical proof for this. Paul says in
the book of Romans in chapter 2, verses 28 to 29, For no one is a Jew who is merely one
outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical, but a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision
is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not the letter. So Paul’s saying, hey, you might
have all the customs of the Jewish people, you might have the lineage, but being a Jew
is not a matter of being one outwardly, or any sort of physicality, or any sort of traditional
aspect like that, even circumcision. It comes from the heart. It has to do with the heart,
which is made clean, which is circumcised by the Spirit of God, which happens through
repentance and faith in Christ. Another example from Romans 9, verses 6 and 8, For not all
who are descended from Israel belong to Israel. This means that it is not the children of
the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of promise are counted as offspring.
So again, Paul’s saying, hey, you might have a Jewish lineage, but that does not mean that
you are a child of God, because it is not the children of the flesh who are the children
of God, but it is the children of promise who are counted as offspring. Paul says in
Galatians 3-7, know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. So a
Christian has more right to say that he is a son of Abraham than a Jewish person does
who could trace his entire physical lineage back to Abraham. Galatians 3-29, And if you
are Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. So he makes it
even clearer. If you have rejected Jesus, if you do not believe in Jesus, then you are
not a true offspring of Abraham. You are not a true child of Abraham, and so you cannot
claim that for yourself. So we see that Christians have this designation of being the children
of God and also the children of Abraham, the offspring of Abraham. Not only that, we also
take up Israel’s mission that God gave Israel in the Old Testament. Remember, they were
to be a light to the nations to take the knowledge of the Lord to the world who did not know
him. Well, that’s exactly what the Christian mission is today, right? Matthew 28, 18-20
is the Great Commission where Jesus tells us to go and make disciples of all nations.
Ephesians 2, verse 10, where God makes it clear that we have been saved for good works
that he created for us beforehand. Matthew 5-14, Jesus literally calls his followers
the light of the world. Israel was to be a light to the nations. Jesus says of Christians,
you are the light of the world. Let your light shine. 1 Peter 2, chapter 9 says that Christians
are a chosen race, a royal priesthood. Revelation 1-6 says that Christians are a kingdom of
priests. Basically, everything that is said of Israel in the Old Testament is said of
the church in the New Testament. And so Christians now have that designation of the children
of God, the people of God, and we have all the same things said of us and attributed
to us that were said and attributed to Israel in the Old Testament. So here comes an important
question. Has God abandoned the Jews? Right? Because there are a large group of Christians
today who want to say, yes, Israel, the Jews, they are the people of God. And I don’t think
there’s biblical basis for that at all. But then there’s another group of people who would
say, well, okay, well, if that’s true, well, what does that mean? Has God just abandoned
them? And the answer is no, he has not abandoned them at all. Now they are considered as unbelievable.
They are not believers because they reject Jesus as the Messiah and they refuse to trust
in him. Jesus even taught in the book of John that if God truly was your father, then you
would love Jesus. Well, the Jews today want to say that God is their father, that they
believe in God. But the problem is they don’t love Jesus. They’ve rejected him. And so the
Bible considers the Jewish people today to be unbelievers, but God has not rejected them.
That’s Paul’s whole point in Romans chapter 11. He says, of course God hasn’t abandoned
Israel because look at me, right? He’s like, I’m a Jew and yet God saved me in Christ.
And he even says there’s always a remnant of those from Israel who will turn to faith
in Christ. And it is the mission of the church today to take the gospel to the world, including
church, including the Jewish people, that they might experience salvation in Christ.
He goes on to say in Romans 11 26 that every Jewish person who will be saved will be saved
in this way, the repentance and faith in Christ after hearing the gospel message. There is
no other way of salvation. And so look, it’s a big question. I know we’ve gone over a little
bit longer than we normally do, but let me just summarize a few points. First and foremost,
the people of God are all those who were in Christ, no one else. Secondly, no person or
group of people, including Jews, will be saved apart from repentance and faith in Christ.
It’s impossible. So this idea that just because they’re Jewish and they come from that heritage
and that lineage that God is going to somehow give them a pass and a get out of hell free
card and they get to go to heaven simply because they come from a Jewish line, that is absolutely
unbiblical. No person or group of people, including Jews, will be saved apart from repentance
and faith in Christ. It’s impossible. There is no salvation in any other name except the
name of Jesus. Third, the church now has the same purpose as Israel did in being God’s
treasured people and serving as a light to the nations. And lastly, God hasn’t abandoned
Israel. He has called Christians to go and reach them with the gospel. So I hope that
answers your question. I appreciate that question and I look forward to answering more in the