Is Israel Still God’s Chosen Nation?

A parable the point of which is to show the Jews would no longer be God’s chosen people is found in Matt 21:33-46. In the story a landowner plants a vineyard, lets it out to farmers, and moves far away (33). The landowner represents God and the farmers represent the Jews (45). When harvest time comes, the owner of the vineyard sends servants to collect his share of the fruit, but the farmers beat, kill, and stone these servants (35). These servants represent the prophets (Luke 11:47) God sent to the Jews through the centuries, and how the Jews mistreated such prophets (Luke 13:34). Lastly the landowner sends his son to collect, but the farmers kill him also. This son represents God’s son Jesus Christ of course.

Jesus asks his audience in verse 40 “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” His audience correctly answers “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen ….” Jesus reaffirms this conclusion by saying in verse 43 “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Precipitated by their longtime disobedience, with the final straw being the killing of the son of God (Matt 23:37-38), the kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles.

This doesn’t mean Gentiles are children of God by physical birth (like the Jews used to be). Instead it means anybody can become a child of God (and heirs of the promise to Abraham) through faith by being baptized into Christ (Gal 3:26-29), and that most of those who end up doing so are Gentiles (Acts 28:28). Now “he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom 2:28-29). Now one is of the “Israel of God,” not because of physical birth and circumcision, but by being a “new creature” (Gal 6:16). Exod 19:5-6 said about the Jews “ye shall be a peculiar … people … a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Of course this was always conditioned upon the Jews’ obedience (Exod 19:5). Their disobedience would lead to them being “plucked from off the land” (Deut 28:58,63). Now that the Jews have lost their status, I Pet 2:5,9 says the exact same thing about Christians “ye … are … a spiritual house, an holy priesthood … a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.” Christians are God’s chosen people now; it doesn’t matter anymore if one is Jew or Gentile (Acts 10:34-35). Spiritual birth is now the entrance to the kingdom (John 3:3,5).

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