God’s Plan for the Jews
Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from their birth, who are carried from the womb; And even to your old age I am he; and even to gray hairs will I carry you; I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? … Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country; yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Hearken unto me, ye stubborn in heart, that are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry; and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel, my glory (Isa. 46:3–5, 9–13).
Not everyone will agree that God has a plan for the people called the Jews. There are objectors and objections. Some of these are simply anti-Semitic, others atheistic or agnostic. For the Christian, the fact that God has a plan for the Jew poses no problem. All of Scripture and all of creation give evidence that God is the divine architect. It is not inconsistent with His being or His Word that God’s plan for this ancient people is revealed. In fact, the Jew remains as a mystery of history, insolvable apart from this revelation. For ages the object of persecution and hatred, the Jew remains, when many of his persecutors have gone. Is this accidental or planned?
Behind the understanding of the divine plan for the Jew is the acceptance of the sovereignty of God. The passage in Isaiah 46 tells us of this truth. This is true of things past and things to come. His counsel shall stand even to the using of a heathen king to perform His pleasure, whether it be a Cyrus in Isaiah’s day, or a Caesar Augustus in the days of Jesus. There is no limit to His power, nor to the accomplishment of His purposes.
IN THE PAST
The first 11 chapters of Genesis give us a summary of the record of creation, the fall of Adam, and the condemnation, propagation, and dispersion of the human race. Genesis 12 to the end of the book reveals the calling of a man—Abraham—and God’s promise and covenant to bless the entire world through this man’s seed. The remainder of the Bible displays God’s use of Israel in the development and fulfillment of that plan.
God Used Israel as a Witness to Monotheism
It is remarkable that no nation, no human intellect, no human philosophy, no known history of the world indicates that any people ever came to the knowledge of the unity of God—that God is one—apart from His revelation of this truth to the children of Israel. It is certain that, apart from God’s revealing it, even Israel would have been idolatrous and worshiped many gods. Isaiah 43:10 says, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lᴏʀᴅ, and my servant whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
God Used Israel to Give Us the Holy Scriptures
There must be a revelation of God if He is to be known. This was partially accomplished through nature, for “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). Yet such revelation is limited. Creation does not give us the answer of forgiveness for sin, the hope of life after death, the knowledge of the nature of God. These truths came to us through the Holy Scriptures. And the people chosen to bring this revelation were the Jews, “holy men of God … were moved [carried along] by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). God used their minds, emotions, experiences, and faith. They wrote the Scriptures, received it as His Word, transmitted it, preserved it, and defended it. Through Israel, God has given us this precious book whose unity, content, message, and wisdom have blessed millions.
It is God who called and set apart this people. It is God who made the promise to Abraham that his seed would be a blessing to all nations. Thrilling indeed is the manner in which God used the Jewish people to accomplish His plan: the birth of Isaac to aged Abraham and Sarah; the guarding of Sarah from the harem of Abimelech; the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt; His protection from the evil of Haman and the many nations surrounding Israel. God preserved His people during their captivity and brought them back again to their own land. The climax of all this is the miracle of the incarnation. The details of its timing and occurrence in the city of Bethlehem, according to promise, are evidences of the divine plan.
God Used Israel in the Preparation of the Gospel
Numerous are the ways in which God did this.
- In giving Israel the Law as a schoolmaster unto Christ. The Law was a shadow of good things to come, but a necessary shadow. By the sternness of its moral code, it revealed the sinfulness of sin and the need of divine forgiveness.
- In revealing through the Jewish people the futility of self-righteousness, or righteousness by the Law. It was a lesson that God taught all of humanity, that a man is justified by faith alone.
- In revealing through them the need of a priesthood and then using it to prepare the way for the priesthood of Christ. It is not by accident that Melchizedek appears on the scene as high priest of El Elyon, the Most High God, to intercede for Abraham. Then there is the promise in Psalm 110 that the Son of David would be a priest “forever after the order of Melchizedek” (v. 4). There would be very little understanding of the offering of Christ for our sins and His present ministry as High Priest apart from the Levitical Law.
- In revealing through the Jew His mercy and judgment. The history of the Jew is a true graph of God’s righteous dealings with men. He blesses those who trust and obey Him; He judges those who disbelieve and disobey Him.
IN THE PRESENT
God’s use of the Jew during Old Testament times does not stop with the beginning of the New. The job was not finished, the plan still incomplete. So God continues to use the Jew.
God Used the Jew in the Formation of the Early Church
The early Church was composed of Jewish disciples. This was necessary for the transition from Judaism to Christianity. Needed were men who believed in and accepted the Old Testament Scriptures, for there is the evidence that Jesus is the promised Messiah. The early Church needed men whose faith went back to Abraham and who, like him, looked for the anointed one. Who else could meet this need but the Jew?
God Used the Jew to Give Us the New Testament
Additional revelation was necessary both to record the history of Gospel events as well as their interpretation. It pleased God to use Jews, men of the same caliber and faith as those who wrote the Old Testament. Such were the men whom God chose to give us the New Testament Scriptures.
God Used the Jew to Take the Gospel to Jew and Gentile
This took men of faith, obedience, and vision. It took men who not only loved their brethren, the Jews, but who, changed by the love of God, also loved the Gentiles. How marvelous the grace of God in removing ancient prejudice, breaking down the middle wall of partition. So Peter went to Cornelius and Paul to the Gentile nations of the ancient world.
God Used the Jew to Remind the Church to be Humble
In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul reminded Gentile believers of their standing in grace. They have been grafted in because God has set Israel apart in judicial blindness. Therefore, they are not to boast because God is surely able to restore the Jew again and to judge the Gentiles, as He did the Jews. “Be not high-minded, but fear” (Rom. 11:20).
IN THE FUTURE
We live in a universe of time. We speak of past, present, and future time. Perhaps it would be better to speak about time in reverse, for the future comes toward us already settled in the plan and purpose of God. When it reaches us, it becomes the present; then it recedes into the past. In the certainty of the future there is still God’s plan for the Jew.
Their Present Existence is Proof of the Faithfulness of God
Other peoples have come and vanished beyond the horizon of history. Not so the Jew. Why? Because “God hath not cast away his people whom he foreknew” (Rom. 11:2). They remain and will remain as evidence of His care and plan for them. This, despite their lot in history of being persecuted and hunted. God has never left Himself without a remnant (Rom. 11:5).
They are Still Being Used to Reach Jew and Gentile with the Gospel
The need for Jewish missionary efforts should be obvious. The Jew has a way of ministering to his own people. The understanding of Jewish traditions, the Jewish mind, their way of life, their natural hesitancy in relation to Gentiles—these are obstacles best overcome by the witness of Hebrew Christians.
The Jew is Being Used in the Restoration of the Land of Israel
Before his death in 1921, Dr. C. I. Scofield wrote, “If God has decreed the reconstitution of the nation of Israel upon the sacred soil of Palestine, no reluctance of the people will delay it one hour.” In May 1948, the independence of the State of Israel was proclaimed. Fifteen years have seen the remarkable growth of the infant nation. The desert has indeed blossomed like a rose.
In God’s future plan for the Jew there is a time known as the Great Tribulation, referred to in Jeremiah 30:7 as “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Jerusalem, which at the present time is still in the hands of the Gentiles, shall be trodden down until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Lk. 21:24). The Jew, skilled in many languages throughout the world, will one day be used for the evangelization of the nations. One day their Messiah and our Lord Jesus will come again, and His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). Then His people “shall look upon [Him] whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10), and they shall turn to Him in faith and love.
This will be God’s final answer to His plan and purpose for the Jew. For this future event in the history of the Jew, every person who loves Christ should pray and watch. How well we need to remember, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Gen. 12:3).