How many times have you ever heard; “the Jews are God’s chosen people?” Most likely, you have probably heard it a time or two, and quite possibly repeated it yourself at some point; but have you ever heard anyone qualify that statement by explaining what it really means?
Why was Israel chosen?
Israel was chosen by God to fulfill God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bless all the families of the earth. God’s original plan was to make Abraham the father of MANY nations and He chose Israel to be the vessel through which He would do this. God gave Israel the Law, and it was through keeping His covenant (the Law) that Israel would be a blessing to the nations; but Israel failed in her commission.
However, God is faithful.
In Romans 1:16-17 Paul introduces the gospel of Jesus Christ by declaring; “it is the power of God unto salvation TO EVERYONE that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek, for in the gospel of Christ, the righteousness of God is REVEALED!
Yet, Paul leaves us hanging beginning in the very next verse, as he now speaks of the wrath of God being revealed from heaven against ungodliness. From Romans 1:18- Romans 3:20 we hear no more about this “righteousness of God” which is revealed through the gospel of Christ.
Romans 1:18 begins with the wrath of God being revealed from heaven and Romans 3:20 ends with not only the Jews but the whole world standing condemned in the sight of God, because of the Law – Israel’s covenant – which has brought forth the knowledge of sin.
Israel did not keep the Law, and consequently, failed in her commission to glorify God in the midst of the nations. Rather than being a holy nation and a blessing to the whole world, Israel’s disobedience has caused the nations to blaspheme against God.
Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? FOR THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES THROUGH YOU, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision (Romans 2:23-25).
Through Israel’s disobedience to God’s law, wherein she was unfaithful, she had become no different than the godless nations around her. Like those nations, she too was under the power of sin!
Beginning in Romans 3:21 Paul now picks up where he left us hanging in chapter one and says: “BUT NOW THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WITHOUT THE LAW IS MANIFESTED, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST unto ALL and upon ALL them that believe: for there is NO DIFFERENCE…”
In Jesus Christ, God has revealed His righteousness (His covenant faithfulness as N.T. Write puts it) and God has fulfilled His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that through Abraham’s seed all the families of the earth would be blessed.
Jesus is the true seed of Abraham, and the embodiment of what Israel was called to be. Through Him alone the promises made to the Fathers have come to fruition. In Jesus Christ, Israel’s calling to bless all the families of the earth is fulfilled, and in Him the righteousness of God (God’s covenant faithfulness to do what he promised) is revealed.
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, TO CONFIRM THE PROMISES MADE TO THE FATHERS: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, for this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust (Romans 15:8-12).
God in Christ has accomplished what he had chosen Israel to do.