Question: The Bible does seem to state a number of times that the Jews (the people of Israel) are God’s chosen people. They mean something special to Him. I don’t understand, however, why there even had to be a “chosen people.” Can you explain this?
Response: To bring the Messiah into the world is one reason for a “chosen people.” The Messiah had to come through a special line of descent; He couldn’t be a member of all races. One particular group of people had to be chosen, and God had to keep them isolated and identifiable in order to fulfill prophecies concerning Messiah’s coming first of all to them and their rejection of Him. Numerous prophecies were given so that there would be no doubt as to the identity of the Messiah and His mission. His genealogy was an important factor in His identity.
Another reason for a “chosen people” is that God needed a special people through whom He could reveal Himself and also to show, in them, the relationship He wanted with all nations. Yes, He wanted to bless all nations, but in order to do so He must start with a particular people.
The Jews were also chosen to receive and preserve God’s laws. They were chosen to be a holy people. They were chosen to be an example of both God’s discipline and His grace. By their history of continued rebellion and God’s patience with them, the Jews have provided assurance that God does not go back on His promises and is infinite in grace and mercy.
Another major reason God chose a special people was to prove His existence to the world by foretelling through His prophets centuries and even thousands of years beforehand exactly what was going to happen to them. We have gone into this in detail biblically and historically in several books, among them A Woman Rides the Beast, A Cup of Trembling and others.
To summarize briefly, God promised the people of Israel the land of Canaan; when He brought them into the land He warned them that if they disobeyed Him they would be cast out and scattered everywhere. They would be hated, persecuted, and killed as no other people (anti-Semitism is a phenomenon unparalleled in history), but God would not let them be totally destroyed. After hailing the Messiah as He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass, bringing salvation, Israel would reject Him; He would be crucified, and Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed once again and the Jews scattered to every nation in the final diaspora. Nevertheless, they would be amazingly preserved as an identifiable, ethnic group of people and brought back into their land in the last days. At that time, as God foretold 2,500 years ago, He would make Jerusalem “a cup of trembling” and a “burdensome stone” around the necks of the nations of the world. Jesus foretold that Jerusalem would be “trodden down of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
We have seen in our generation, exactly as prophesied, Israel’s restoration as a nation to her own land (actually a small part of it thus far), the determination of the world not to let Israel have sovereignty over Jerusalem, the repeated attacks against her by her Muslim neighbors, and Israel’s triumph each time through God’s preservation. Today Jerusalem (and especially the Temple Mount) is a burdensome stone around the necks of all the nations of the world, as the news continually reports. The Bible tells how it will all end, but the world is unwilling to believe and to submit to God’s plan.
None of these proofs would have been possible without there having been a “chosen people.” There is much more in Scripture, but space limitations govern.