Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are Jews the chosen people? A Response by Joe Ortiz to this article by Dennis Prager.

Following is an article written by columnist Dennis Prager which appeared today (May 19, 2011) on the The Jerusalem Connection blog. Following the article is the response by Joe Ortiz.

     I assume that the type of person who reads columns such as this one has wondered at one time or another why, for thousands of years, there has been so much attention paid to Jews and why, today, to Israel, the one Jewish state.
     But how do most people explain this preoccupation? There is no fully rational explanation for the amount of attention paid to the Jews and the Jewish state. And there is no fully rational explanation for the amount of hatred directed at Jews and the Jewish state.
     A lifetime of study of this issue, including writing (with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin), a book on anti-Semitism (“Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism”) has convinced me that, along with all the rational explanations, there is one explanation that transcends reason alone.
     It is that the Jews are God’s chosen people.
     Now, believe me, dear reader, I am well aware of the hazards of making such a claim.
     It sounds chauvinistic. It sounds racist. And it sounds irrational, if not bizarre.
     But it is none of these.
     As regards chauvinism, there is not a hint of inherent superiority in the claim of Jewish chosen-ness. In fact, the Jewish Bible, the book that states the Jews are chosen, constantly berates the Jews for their flawed moral behavior. No bible of any other religion is so critical of the religious group affiliated with that bible as the Hebrew Scriptures are of the Jews.
     As for racism, Jewish chosen-ness cannot be racist by definition. Here is why: a) The Jews are not a race; there are Jews of every race. And b) any person of any race, ethnicity or nationality can become a member of the Jewish people and thereby be as chosen as Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah or the chief rabbi of Israel.
     And with regard to chosen-ness being an irrational or even bizarre claim, it must be so only to atheists. They don’t believe in a Chooser, so they cannot believe in a Chosen. But for most believing Jews and Christians (most particularly the Founders who saw America as a Second Israel, a second Chosen People), Jewish Chosen-ness has been a given. And even the atheist must look at the evidence and conclude that the Jews play a role in history that defies reason. 
     Can reason alone explain how a hodgepodge of ex-slaves was able to change history — to introduce the moral G0d-Creator we know as G0d; to write the world’s most influential book, the Bible; to devise ethical monotheism; to be the only civilization to deny the cyclical worldview and give humanity belief in a linear (i.e., purposeful) history; to provide morality-driven prophets and so much more — without God playing the decisive role in this people’s history?
     Without the Jews, there would be no Christianity (a fact acknowledged by the great majority of Christians) and no Islam (a fact acknowledged by almost no Muslims). Read Thomas Cahill’s “The Gifts of the Jews” or Paul Johnson’s “A History of the Jews” to get an idea about how much this people changed history.
     What further renders the claim for Jewish chosen-ness worthy of rational consideration is that virtually every other nation has perceived itself as chosen or otherwise divinely special. For example, China means “Middle Kingdom” in Chinese — meaning that China is at the center of the world; and Japan considers itself the land where the sun originates (“Land of the Rising Sun”). The difference between Jewish chosen-ness and other nations’ similar claims is that no one cares about any other group considering itself Chosen, while vast numbers of non-Jews have either believed the Jews’ claim or have hated the Jews for it.
     Perhaps the greatest evidence for the Jews’ chosen-ness has been provided in modern times, during which time evil has consistently targeted the Jews:
     — Nazi Germany was more concerned with exterminating the Jews than with winning World War II.
     — Throughout its 70-year history, the Soviet Union persecuted its Jews and tried to extinguish Judaism. Hatred of Jews was one thing communists and Nazis shared.
     — The United Nations has spent more time discussing and condemning the Jewish state than any other country in the world. Yet, this state is smaller than every Central American country, including El Salvador, Panama and even Belize. Imagine if the amount of attention paid to Israel were paid to Belize — who would not think there was something extraordinary about that country?
     — Much of the contemporary Muslim world — and nearly all the Arab world — is obsessed with annihilating the one Jewish state.
     In the words of Catholic scholar Father Edward Flannery, the Jews carry the burden of G0d in history. Most Jews, being secular, do not believe this. And many Jews dislike talk of chosen-ness because they fear it will increase anti-Semitism; they may be right.
     But it doesn’t alter the fact that the obsession with one of the smallest countries and smallest peoples on earth, and the unique hatred of the Jews and the Jewish state by the world’s most vicious ideologies, can be best explained only in transcendent terms. Namely that God,  for whatever reason, chose the Jews.
Joe Ortiz Responds to Dennis Prager’s claim on May 19, 2011 at 6:58 am.

     The Messianic promise (to Israel, via Abraham, the Father of Faith) is the central focus of all God’s covenants with man from the beginning. This promise relates to all divine predictions in the Old Testament. The writers of the New Testament recognize Christ as the perfect fulfillment of promises to the patriarchs and Israel. The apostle Paul sums up the whole Messianic hope in one definite promise:
     6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me, (Acts 26:6-7);
     32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: “‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father, (Acts 13:32-33);
     29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise, (Galatians 3:29)
     Christ Is the goal of the mission of Abraham and Israel. Christ came to redeem the world and the human race as a whole. Salvation is from the Jews but not for the Jews only.
     22 But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe, Galatians 3:22).
     Many Christians (and Jews) cannot see this reality because those from the Dispensationalist camp keep insisting that God has two programs, one for national Israel and one for a spiritual entity called Christianity. Obviously Dispensationalists will keep insisting that some Old Testament promises to Israel will still be fulfilled. They are not concerned their polemic muddy the eschatological waters by quoting prophecies that have already been fulfilled by Christ.
     I do not (as I have been accused of) believe in “replacement” theology whatsoever. The “faith-believing remnant of Israel and gentile believers became one new man (the Body of Christ) by virtue of His sacrifice on Calvary. On the Day of Pentecost, this “one new man” received power from on high to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ that whosoever believes in Him shall become members of this entity we call CHURCH. Therefore, to focus on Old Testament prophecies as being harbingers of things to come, such as a geopolitical kingdom has to be established for the nation of Israel, is sheer idolatry.
     One in Christ
     11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit, (Ephesians 2:11-22).
     And last but not least (and probably more important to the issue of God-ordained land rights that has caused this conflict for over 2 thousand years) the following scripture proves that the Patriarchs, from Abraham down, were not looking to a parcel of land in the Middle East as their promised land:

     11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he[a] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore, 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them,” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
     This city is not a restored Old Jerusalem, but the New Jerusalem, which will descend to earth when Jesus Christ returns.
     Therefore, Dennis, we either give glory and honor to Jesus Christ for fulfilling Old Testament prophecies, or continue lifting up a political nation that despises and rejects Him as Lord and savior.   
     Can it (the state of Israel and its people) be restored to their former favored status? Only if it repents and believes in its true Messiah, Jesus Christ!
     “And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again, (Romans 11:23)
     Yes! God is able to graft them in again, but will never do so until they BELIEVE!
     Until it does repent and believes in their Messiah, Jesus, it does not have a “Get out of Jail” free card to commit the sin of murder, claiming self-defense, anymore than any other nation, ethnic group or religious entity and not be punished for actions that go against the will of God!
     Dennis, our paths have crossed. We (Mike O'Brien and me) interviewed you in 1986 on a show called “Heart & Soul” out of KPPC-AM Pasadena. I also sat in for you on February 23, 1991 at KABC Talk Radio, during the Gulf War. To listen to that interview, which was recorded in 1986, please ckick on Dennis Prager Interview.

For information about the author's two books, please click on The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation. To access his web sites and blogs, please click on Joe Ortiz.


  1. “And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again," (Romans 11:23)

    Great text. Jesus welcomes all who will deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him. Jesus is not the author of unconditional salvation, but eternal salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first, then also to the Greek. God is not a respecter of persons who consigns people against their will to heaven or hell. All who comply with God's just conditions of obedience of Christ are grafted into the vine of Christ with faithful Abraham. God bless.

  2. Joe,

    It's disingenuous to say you don't advocate replacement theology because your position is exactly what is meant by the label. Alternatively it is called supercessionism but they are one and the same.

    God's election of the nation is irrevocable:

    "As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers."(Ro 11:28)

    Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.(Ro 11:25)

    This clearly infers that once the fullness of Gentiles come in Israel will lose their hardness of heart. God really couldn't be much clearer.

    You are right that the prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus. BUT Christ will not fulfill all the prophecies of the OT until the parousia and the Jews will nationally recognize him as Messiah,

    “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo."(Zec 12:10-11)

    Your replacement theology is unbiblical.

  3. Joe,
    I have to agree with CD Putman. My German Jewish grandmother taught me the same thing. In case you weren't aware, I am at least one quarter Jewish. I've had the best of both Jewish and Christian upbringing.

  4. Please do not marginalize a brother by simply slapping a label on him.

    In Christ, who is a Jew and who is a gentile? What does scripture say?

    I am of non-Jewish heritage yet, in Christ, I count myself as one of the grains of sand along the shore or stars in the sky. That being the case must mean that he promise made to Abraham was spiritual not physical. That means further that the body of Christ is the promise fulfilled. IF when a physical descendent of Abraham receives Jesus Christ, he also becomes a spiritual descendent as well.

    To review my position. The church did not replace Israel. ALL who receive Christ join the family of Abraham. How can the church possibly replace a family that has been built by faith for thousands of years longer than the church is old?

  5. A huge difference between Dennis and Joe is that Dennis does not back up his points with Scripture but Joe pointedly and successfully does back up his points with Scripture! I'll take Scripture over man's opinions any old day. Thank you, Joe, for your much needed blog.
    Sincerely, Leonard

  6. To CD Putnam and Allen Stark:

    I recommend two books that will help enlighten you to some biblical reality. They are written by noted scholar Hans K. LaRondelle, with the titles "Our Creator Redeemer(An Introduction to Biblical Covenant Theology);" and "The Israel of God in Prophecy."

    If you can place your Premillennial Dispensationalism traing on hold, for a bit, I'm certain you will find these two books (which provide specific Bible scriptre in support of Mr. LaRondelle's study),will be helpful in your respective ministries.

    Many Blessings to you both!