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The chosen people
The Jews were God's chosen people simply because they had accepted the call given to Abraham, and through them He had purposed to bless the entire human race.
From among them God had been able to raise up many prophets to help the world, but these had also had to foretell of the advent of a Redeemer who was to be rejected and slain by those who should have been the first to recognise Him as the Promised One. It was because of this rejection that the so-called "Christian" church came into existence.
The prophet Isaiah therefore, looking down through the centuries and seeing this, was inspired to write concerning the acceptance of the Redeemer by those who had never before been physically numbered among the children of Israel.
Referring to this prophecy, Paul declares:
"Isaiah is very bold, and says, I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me. [Isaiah 65:1].
But to Israel He says, All day long I have stretched forth My hands to a disobedient and gainsaying [or argumentative] people". [65:2].
However, even though Israel rejected His Son,
God did not reject them.
Listen to Paul as he continues the discussion:
"I say then, Has God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people which He foreknew (or called). Dont you know what the Scripture says of Elijah? How he made intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Your prophets, and digged down Your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
"But what says the answer of God to him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace".
Israel had stumbled and fallen away, but this did not make it impossible for some of them to rise again.
It was God's purpose from the beginning that His grace should be revealed among the Gentiles as well as among the Israelites for He is no respecter of persons. There is only one "church" or "family" of God. This desire had been plainly outlined in Old Testament statements.
Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for you are not My people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said to them, You are not My people, there it shall be said to them, You are the sons of the living God.
Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to you: your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side.
Despite Israel's failure as a nation to do this, there always remained among them a remnant or small group who were obedient. Therefore at the time of the Saviour's advent these were the faithful men and women who received with gladness the message of John the Baptist, and had thus been led to study anew the prophecies concerning the Messiah. When the early "Christian" church was founded, it was composed of these faithful Jews who recognised Jesus of Nazareth as the one for whose advent they had been longing.
It is to this remnant that Paul refers when he writes,
"If the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches...
"They also," the apostle went on to declare of the broken branches, "if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again...
"For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in".
Thus Paul shows that God is abundantly able to transform the hearts of Jew and Gentile alike, and to grant to every believer in Christ the blessings promised to Israel.
He quotes Isaiah's declaration concerning God's people:
"Though the number of children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: for He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. [Isaiah 10:22]
And as Isaiah said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom and been made like unto Gomorra". [Isaiah 1:9]
Despite the awful doom pronounced upon them as a nation at the time of their rejection of Jesus of Nazareth, there have lived from age to age many noble, God-fearing Jewish men and women who have suffered in silence. God has comforted their hearts in affliction and has beheld with pity their terrible situation. He has heard the agonising prayers of those who have sought Him with all the heart for a right understanding of His word. Some have learned to see in the lowly Nazarene whom their forefathers rejected and crucified, the true Messiah of Israel. As their minds have grasped the significance of the familiar prophecies so long obscured by tradition and misinterpretation, their hearts have been filled with gratitude to God for the unspeakable gift He bestows upon every human being who chooses to accept Christ as a personal Saviour.
It is to this class that Isaiah referred in his prophecy, "A remnant shall be saved". From Paul's day to the present time, God by His Holy Spirit has been calling after the Jew as well as the Gentile, just as in Moses time He called Gentiles as well as Jews. "There is no respect of persons with God," declared Paul. The apostle regarded himself as "debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians," as well as to the Jews; but he never lost sight of the decided advantages possessed by the Jews over others, "chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God".
"The gospel," he declared, "is the power of God to salvation to everyone that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith".
It is of this gospel of Christ, working equally for Jew and Gentile, that Paul in his epistle to the Romans declared he was not ashamed.
When this gospel is presented in its fullness to the Jews, many will accept Christ as the Messiah. Among Christian ministers today there are only a few who feel called upon to labour for the Jewish people, but to those who have been often passed by, as well as to all others, the message of mercy and hope in Christ is to come.
In the closing proclamation of the gospel, when
special work is to be done for classes of people up to now
neglected, God expects His messengers to take particular interest
in the Jewish people whom they find in all parts of the earth. As
the Old Testament Scriptures are blended with the New in an
explanation of Gods eternal purpose, this will be to
many of the Jews as the dawn of a new creation. As they see the
Christ of the gospel dispensation portrayed in the pages of the
Old Testament Scriptures, and perceive how clearly the New
Testament explains the Old, their slumbering faculties will be
aroused, and they will recognise Christ as the Saviour of the
world. Many will by faith receive Christ as their Redeemer.
To them will be fulfilled the words,
"As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name".
Among the Jews are some like Saul of Tarsus (he became the apostle Paul), who are mighty in the Scriptures, and these will proclaim with wonderful power the unchangeableness of the law of God. The God of Israel will bring this to pass in our day. His arm is not shortened that it cannot save. As His servants labour in faith for those who have long been neglected and despised, His salvation will be revealed.
It is written:-
"Thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify My name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine".
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