A gracEmail reader in Eastern Europe asks, “Are the Jews still God’s ‘chosen people?’ Why they did not receive the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ?”
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The Apostle Paul struggles with the heart-wrenching situation of Israel’s present rejection of Jesus in Romans chapters 9-11. Along the way, he notes three important points.
First, not every descendant of Abraham is one of God’s “chosen,” as even the Old Testament story makes plain. God counted Abraham’s offspring through Isaac, not through Ishmael (Gen. 21:12; Rom. 9:7). When Isaac’s wife Rebekah had twin sons, God chose Jacob but rejected Esau (Mal. 1:2-3; Rom. 9:10-13).
Second, God’s “chosen” people now includes men and women from all nations, just as the Hebrew prophets foretold (Rom. 9:23-28). Gentiles do not need to become Jews to be God’s people (Acts 15). The same God who graciously chose faithful Jews also graciously chose faithful people from every ethnic and geographical group to be his “Beloved,” “my people,” and “children of the living God” (Hos. 1:10; 2:23; Isa. 65:1; Rom. 9:25-26).
Third, the present blindness of world Jews regarding Jesus Christ is both partial and temporary. For now, Israel’s “spirit of stupor” means salvation for the rest of humankind whom God is calling. In the future, God will use the Gentiles’ salvation to bring about Israel’s messianic faith (Rom. 11:7-11). Jewish rejection of the gospel will eventually turn to acceptance (Rom. 11:15). When “the fulness of the Gentiles has come in,” Israel’s “partial hardening” will be reversed and “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25-27; Isa. 59:20-21).
Paul leaves us with two firm confidences — first, that “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29), and, second, that God “has shut up all in disobedience that he might show mercy to all” (Rom. 11:32). With Paul we must finally exclaim, “For from [God], and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).