The wise men who came to visit Jesus were looking for the child who had been born “the King of the Jews” (Matthew 2v2). His Jewishness was an important part of who he was; many times he is called the descendant of Abraham and David (eg “Hosanna to the Son of David,” Matthew 21v9).
Yet some people today believe that God has cast off the Jews and is no longer interested in them. So what’s the true position? Do the Jews matter to God or not?
Put simply, the Jews are God’s people, and have always been so. Look at these verses:
- “I took you [David] to be ruler over my people Israel,” (2 Samuel 7v8)
- “I will be their God and they will be my people,” (Ezekiel 37v27 – talking about the future).
- “Salvation is from the Jews,” (John 4v22, the words of Jesus)
Clearly in the past God has been displeased with them, and they have suffered terrible things, as God promised that they would if they disobeyed Him (for example, read Deuteronomy 28 and see how much of the 20th century events they experienced is prophesied there!) But God’s love for them is because He chose them, and not because they won His favour at all:
“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples… but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out [of Egypt] by a mighty hand,” (Deuteronomy 7v7-8).
In fact the Jews are God’s witnesses to His character and His faithfulness (Isaiah 43v10), and proof that He keeps His promises. The big change with the New Testament is that anyone can be a “Jew”, a spiritual descendant of Abraham, by sharing his faith. Paul wrote this: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise,” (Galatians 3v29).
So God looks at it this way round – anyone can become part of Abraham’s family and thus be counted a Jew at heart. This in no way detracts from how important Jews are to God, but He is especially interested in spiritual ‘Jewishness’, and not merely an adherence to Jewish practices.
The final point is that the Jewish homeland of Israel is the place where the kingdom of God shall one day be set up, so it makes sense for God to still be interested. See for example the promise to Abraham in Genesis 13, where God assures Abraham that land shall be his (and his descendants’) forever.