The Chosen People
Some disdain the term Chosen People as implying superiority or arrogance. But it is a biblical term, found in both the Old Testament (Isaiah 43:20) and in the New Testament (1 Peter 2:9). Chosen ones” and “my chosen ones” occur even more frequently.
In the Bible, people are chosen for service to others—which includes being “missionaries” in bringing the healing of reconciliation with God to the world. That was the task of Old Testament Israel as an entity, and today it is the task of individuals in the Church, which is comprised of both Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus.
I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Israel was chosen to bring blessing to the world. This was a missionary mandate! This is fulfilled in the coming of the Gospel to the Gentiles in the New Testament.
(Note: the promise to Abraham was reaffirmed to his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, showing that the nation of Israel was chosen as a nation.)
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The New Testament emphasizes the call or “choosing” of individuals rather than of a particular nation or entity. (Acts 1:2: “the apostles whom He had chosen”; Acts 9:15, “He is a chosen vessel…to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel”; Romans 16:13: “Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord”; 1Corinthians 1:26: “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many…are called”; Revelation 5:9: “You…have redeemed us…out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”)
Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.
Israel was chosen to live a godly life, as are Christians. Missionaries need to be prepared spiritually!
The corollary is that though Israel was a chosen nation, not each individual in the nation would experience God’s blessing unless they continued in their responsibilities as part of the covenant dpeople.
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you.…But above all…put on love…
…elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,…for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:2
For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.
Israel was chosen to be holy, as is the Church. This is another indication of the spiritual preparation that missionaries need!
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
1 Peter 2:9
“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
…God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:13
You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
Being chosen involves responsibility!
And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not…do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required….
But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken you from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away…’.
Israel was chosen for service—and so are Christians.
And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Scholar in Residence, Missionary
Rich has been on staff since 1978. He has served at several Jews for Jesus branches and was a pianist and songwriter with their music team, the Liberated Wailing Wall. He is now at the San Francisco headquarters, where he conducts research, writes and edits as the senior researcher. He is author of the books Christ in the Sabbath and The Day Jesus Did Tikkun Olam: Jewish Values and the New Testament, and co-author of Christ in the Feast of Pentecost. Rich received his M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1978 and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies and Hermeneutics from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1993.