Are The Jews Privileged?

Is there any merit for them before God? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

The good news of the gospel that was preached was preached originally to the Jews. We find this often in the Bible in that Jesus has His apostles go first to the Jews and not go into Samaria or into Gentile territory. Jesus makes His presentation to Israel first to give Israel one more chance to be the light of the world. We know that the story ends with the Jews rejecting Jesus and sadly saying that they have no king but Caesar, a direct contradiction to the desire to be ruled by YHWH.

When we read the book of Romans, part of it I think is meant to ask the question about Jews. Jews had been expelled from the city and the Gentile church went on fine without them and then lo and behold, these Jews come back and the church doesn’t know what to do. How are we to respond to these people? Could it be as some Christians have unfortunately said throughout the ages, that we ought to despise them for what they did to Jesus? Should we consider them our enemies? What is their relationship to us?

Let’s answer the question of if we should hold the Jews responsible. The answer is no. No Jew today was around when Jesus was crucified. I have the exact same stance for slavery today in America. It’s done with and the sooner we stop holding it over the heads of people, the sooner we can move on past it. The Christian worldview has no place for anti-semitism. Our Lord Himself was Jewish and we should honor the Jewish heritage that we have.

Now when it comes to the gospel, is there a special privilege in being Jewish? Some will answer “Yes! Didn’t Paul say that there is an advantage to being a Jew?” He did indeed. What was that advantage? The advantage was that it was your people that received the Scriptures and it was your people through whom the Messiah would come. The Gospel did come to the Jew first and even Paul in his evangelism seemed to follow that pattern.

Yet while there is advantage there, there is also more responsibility. Because the Jews were in a favored position with regards to receiving the Scriptures and having the lineage of the Messiah, they should have known better. We often can talk about whether people are chosen by God and see that as meaning that it is a position of greater honor. It is a position of honor, but it is also a position that comes with great responsibility. Let’s consider for instance this text in Amos 3:2.

““You only have I chosen
of all the families of the earth;”

Yeah! That’s right! The chosen ones! That can lead to shouts of acclamation! What a great joy it is to be chosen by God! But yet that same verse ends this way.

“therefore I will punish you
for all your sins. ”

It is because of being chosen that punishment comes. In Acts 14 and 17 we have Paul saying to the people that God did overlook their ignorance. Now He is calling for repentance. The Gentiles could have been said to have more of a reason for not doing what was right. They did not have it explicitly spelled out for them from on high. The Jews could not make any such statement.

Even John the Baptist warned the people of his time that God could raise up from the very stones around him children of Abraham. Don’t look at the natural descent you have from Abraham and think that matters a rip to God. God could care less about the person in your family tree that you call father. What God calls about is if you see Him as the Father. What He cares about is if you are honoring Him as God. Your blood will not save you.

What this tells us is that in our age of equality, God is fully equal with the gospel. Some might be in a position where it could be easier for them to hear, but when it comes to judging, all are equally sinful before God and condemned in His sight. No one can totally claim ignorance on the last day. Everyone will know of some good that they denied. Everyone will have their hearts laid bare before the judge.

The message to the Jews was repent, and when we look at the destruction that came on the temple, we can know that God did judge them. Being of the blood of Abraham was not enough. God is fully equal with His treatment. If you are not with Jesus, then you are against Him and if you are against Him, it is something that God takes seriously. There can be no new competition to the new covenant, and that includes the old covenant as well.

Now does this mean we are to be opposed to the Jews? Not at all. What should be our response? Humility. We need to be watching ourselves. This is what Romans warns us about. It says that some Gentiles were talking about how they were grafted into the tree when some natural branches were broken off. Yes, says Paul. They were broken off for unbelief. You’re not even a natural branch. What’s to make you think that you yourselves won’t be broken off if you don’t honor the new covenant? It means to recognize that you have a position of privilege and to not disregard the natural branches. My fellow Gentiles. We must remember that when we meet someone Jewish, they do not have the position before YHWH based on their blood and origin, but they are still the ones through whom and to whom the Scriptures were first delivered and through whom they were handed down and they are the ones that brought our Messiah into the world.

Let us seek to win them over to their Messiah with zeal and keep in mind Messiah is a term for the Jews. We are to let them know the one they awaited has come. The promises of YHWH have been fulfilled. We meanwhile should hold our place with fear and trembling. We are not here either because we are someone special. We are just those who happened to willingly submit to YHWH and His King Jesus. If we fall out of line, we are just as prone to have what happened to us that which happened to the Jews in 70 A.D. If we want to see what it means to stand in the way of the king, let us look there and realize, the king means business. Let’s hope we mean business in serving Him too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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