Every race and nation likes to think that it is chosen for greatness. As a Christian, I was raised to believe that the Jews were God’s chosen people. This was based upon the idea that the Jews were descended from Abraham.
But is physical genealogy really what God uses to determine who is chosen and who is not?
Years ago, I began to study the laws of God, and I soon realized that being chosen is really based on faith, not on genealogy. In the days of Elijah, there were only 7,000 chosen ones in all Israel. They were a tiny minority.
If so few Israelites were chosen, then how could it be based on genealogy? Were there only 7,000 Israelites in Israel? Were all the other people foreigners who were not descended from Abraham?
In Rom. 11:2 and 3, the Apostle Paul writes,
“Do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.’ But what is the divine response to him? ‘I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal’.”
Paul then comments on this in the next verses.
“In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice… What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”
Who were “those who were chosen?” He spoke of the 7,000 whom God had chosen and kept for Himself out of the entire nation. Paul calls them “chosen,” and he is careful to separate them from the others who were blind.
Only a remnant was chosen. The others were not. So it is clear that being “chosen” is more than a matter of race or genealogy—otherwise, all of them would be chosen.
The Israelites had been cast off and sent into exile into the land of Assyria in 721 B.C. Did this mean that God had rejected Israel? Yes and no. They were indeed rejected, but the remnant of grace obtained the inheritance of God. The rest of the Israelites “were blinded.”
Paul said that to inherit the kingdom of God, one must have faith in God through Jesus Christ. Rom. 10:11-13 says,
“For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him, for “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved’.”
If a Jew or a Greek (or anyone else) calls upon the name of the Lord, each will be saved equally, and will then be part of the same body. A Jew’s salvation is not greater than the salvation of a Greek. A Jew is not given a higher position than what is given to a Greek.
Again, Paul says in Gal. 3:26-29,
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”
All become equal citizens of God’s Kingdom through faith in Christ.
The Dividing Wall
The temple in Jerusalem had a wall in the courtyard, which separated Jewish men from the women and non-Jews. Only Jewish men were allowed to come close to God. Women and non-Jews had to stay at a distance.
“On the wall was posted a sign that read: “No Gentile may enter beyond the dividing wall into the court around the Holy Place; whoever is caught will be to blame for his subsequent death.”
This sign was discovered by an archeologist in 1871. The Apostle Paul wrote about this wall in Eph. 2:14-18,
“For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall… that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace…. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
Jesus did not agree with the rules of the temple that divided the people into separate groups.
This is the wall that created the psychological notion that the Jews were God’s chosen people who were privileged above others. It had created a cultural and religious barrier that God did not approve. There was no law or instruction to Solomon to build such a wall in his temple. It was built later by those who did not understand the law.
One Law for All
The law of God says in Num. 15:15 and 16,
“As for the church, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the Lord. There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.”
The law says, “as you are, so shall the alien be before the Lord.” The dividing wall in the temple violated this law, for it created a division. It violated the right of foreigners and women to approach God as equals. Whoever built the dividing wall committed a great sin.
Jesus came to break down that dividing wall, because all are equal in His kingdom.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
The law says in Lev. 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said that this was the second great commandment. Matt. 22:35-40 says,
“One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets’.”
The Jewish rabbis had twisted this commandment to make it say that one’s neighbor did not include non-Jews. So later, a lawyer asked Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).
Jesus answered him by telling a parable. He said that a man was walking from Jerusalem to Jericho and was attacked by robbers. They left him half-dead by the road. A priest walked by and did nothing. A Levite also walked past the wounded man and did nothing. Then a Samaritan saw him and had compassion on him. He brought the wounded man to an inn and paid for his recovery. Then Jesus asked the lawyer, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” (Luke 10:36).
By telling this parable, Jesus identified the Samaritan as a neighbor, because he did what was neighborly. So “love your neighbor as yourself” includes Samaritans and all other foreigners. Those who do not love foreigners are violating the second greatest commandment.
The Law of Love
The law says in Deut. 10:19,
“So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
Israel had been mistreated for centuries during the time that they lived in Egypt. God allowed that, so that the Israelites would learn not to mistreat aliens.
Again, the law says in Lev. 19:33 and 34,
“When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The foreigner who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
If a foreigner decided to move to the land of Israel, it was because his desire was to serve the God of Israel. He saw the benefit of a land that was ruled by the laws of God. By moving to Israel, he agreed to follow those laws. He was to be treated as an equal, and the Israelites were to love him as they would love themselves.
Anything less was a sin in the sight of God.
The Impartial God
God is impartial in His ways. Exodus 23:3 commands judges not to show partiality, not even to a poor man. Verse 6 also says,
“You shall not oppress a foreigner, since you yourselves know the feelings of a foreigner, for you also were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Foreigners were not to be treated differently.
James 2:9 says,
“But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
Paul writes in Rom. 3:9,
“What then? Are we [Jews] better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin.”
God evicted the Canaanites from their land on account of their sin and gave it to the Israelites. However, God then warned Israel that if they would do what the Canaanites had done, He would also evict the Israelites (Deut. 8:19, 20).
God is impartial in His judgments.
Who are the Children of Abraham?
In the Hebrew language of the Bible, a “son” was not necessarily a biological son. It also meant one who resembled something or someone in their actions. For instance, two of Jesus’ disciples were brothers named James and John. They were called “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). They were not literally sons of thunder, because thunder begets no one. It showed their boldness.
There were also children of wisdom, children of light, and children of the devil. None of these were physical. Paul defined these children in terms of their actions, not biology. The children of Abraham are those who follow Abraham’s example of faith. Gal. 3:7 says, “therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”
By this definition, those who lack faith in Jesus Christ are not the children of Abraham. Again, Heb. 11:6 says, without faith it is not possible to please God. God is not satisfied with genealogy. He is satisfied only when we have faith that He is able to fulfill His promises (Rom. 4:21 and 22).
Those who have Abraham’s faith are His children and are God’s chosen people, regardless of their ethnicity.