When God Chose the Jewish People
The Fellowship | July 1, 2019
Grafted INsights, a series of Christian reflections from Fellowship friends, is proud to feature this column by Dr. David Jeremiah, one of the world’s preeminent Christian leaders.
To this very day, the issue of who controls the Promised Land is the most volatile in international politics. But we need not worry; the right to the Promised Land has already been determined by the only One who has the authority to determine it. The land is called holy because it belongs to God. The Bible tells us that the earth is the Lord’s to do with as He wills (Psalm 24:1; Exodus 19:5). In His covenant with Abraham, God designated who would control this land: He gave it to Abraham and his descendants, the people of Israel.
How Odd of God to Choose the Jews
We read of God’s choice of the Jews in Deuteronomy 7:6, where He declared the people of Israel holy, chosen to be “a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” When I [Dr. David Jeremiah] first began studying prophecy, I remember reading an offbeat little rhyme about Israel by British journalist William Norman Ewer: “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” And when you think about it, this poetic quip expresses a valid observation. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that of all the people on earth, God selected these particular people to be His chosen nation? Why would God choose the Jews?
Why God Chose to Bless Israel
The Bible tells us that His choice of Israel had nothing to do with merit. It was not because she was more numerous than other people in the world; she was the least (Deuteronomy 7:7). It was not because Israel was more sensitive to God than other nations. Although God called her by name, Israel did not know Him (Isaiah 45:4). It was not because Israel was more righteous than other nations. When God later confirmed His promise of land to the Jews, He reminded them that they were a rebellious, stiff-necked people (Deuteronomy 9:6 –7).
If God chose to bless the nation of Israel not because she was more populous or spiritually responsive or righteous than other nations, just why did He choose the Jews? The answer: because it was His sovereign purpose to do so. His sovereign purpose means He cares what happens to His people and their land. He is not merely a passive observer to all that is taking place in Israel. As He told the people through Moses, theirs was “a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year” (Deuteronomy 11:12). Check out the list of Psalms mentioning God & Israel.
God’s Covenant and the Land of Israel [Dr. David Jeremiah]
The people of Israel today are the beneficiaries of God’s covenant with Abraham. And to those who are sensitive to the historical nature of the covenant, their possession of the land God promised to Abraham thousands of years ago has great meaning. The deep feeling Jews have for their land is powerfully expressed in this passage by Rabbi Binyamin Elon:
I walk the streets of the Promised Land where Abram walked. I drive through the roads and plains where Isaac tended his flocks. I hike to the hilltops from where Jacob peered expectantly in all directions . . . I see these things and remember clearly the biblical truth. God gave the Promised Land, all of it, to our Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Another rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, attributes the Jews’ strong connection with their land to the power of God’s covenant with Abraham to hold the Jewish people together throughout the ages with a common, bonding love for the land:
The love of this land was due to an imperative, not an instinct, not to a sentiment. There is a covenant, an engagement of the people to the land. We live by covenants. We could not betray our pledge or discard the promise. When Israel was driven into exile, the pledge became a prayer; the prayer a dream; the dream a passion, a duty, a dedication . . . It is a commitment we must not betray . . . To abandon the land would make a mockery of all our longings, prayers, and commitments. To abandon the land would be to repudiate the Bible.
The existence of Israel today is exhibit A in the lineup of convincing evidences that the Bible’s prophecies concerning the future ahead of us will be fulfilled. This means the future not only of Israel, but also of our world, our nation, as well as your future and mine. This, perhaps, is the most important blessing we can receive from the astounding history of the Jews. It reveals the reality of God—His overwhelming power, the authenticity of His promises, the certainty of His existence, the urgency of His call to us, and His claim on our very being.
Dr. David Jeremiah is among the best known Christian leaders in the world. He serves as senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California and is the founder and host of Turning Point. Turning Point‘s 30-minute radio program is heard on more than 2,200 radio stations daily. A New York Times bestselling author and Gold Medallion winner, he has written more than fifty books.