As we look at them, we see that they are all carrying Bibles under their arms or in their hands. Many of these Bibles evidently are well read, marked and worn from usage. In fact, an incalculable number of these people have large portions of their Bibles memorized, some entire sections or books.
Imagine also that these people are faithful in attending church, worshiping regularly and tithing. They are active not only in their churches but also in their communities. Many, if not most of these individuals, live exemplary lives. And then, imagine seeing all these people—in a line that goes on and on as far as the eye can see—walking into the eternal flames of hell with Bibles in their hands!
This image conveys an idea of what the Apostle Paul may have been thinking as he wrote to the church in Rome—a long line of very religious, good people who are nonetheless lost and on their way to an eternity in hell because they either never understood or accepted the Bible’s message of salvation. In an extremely personal and moving portion of Scripture, Paul spoke of his fellow Israelites, the Jewish people, in these words from Romans 9:2–4, (KJV):
That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon defines pertaineth as:
- to belong as a part, member, accessory, or product
- to belong as an attribute, feature, or function
- to belong as a duty or right
A Chosen, Holy and Special People
In Deuteronomy 7:6 Moses writes,
For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
The common understanding for a Jewish person is that he or she belongs to “the chosen people,” but in actuality according to Scripture the Jewish people are not only “chosen,” but they are also “holy” and “special.”
In Zechariah 2:8 our LORD Himself tells us, “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you [The Jewish People] toucheth the apple of his eye. [the Lord’s eye]”
There’s no doubt that the Bible teaches that the Jewish people hold a special place in God’s heart and in Paul’s heart. But does this mean that they will automatically go to heaven when they die because of God’s special favor to them? At least one man, Franz Rosenzweig, thought so. His two-covenant salvation theory proposed shortly after WWI fell upon itchy ears like an avalanche until today, many denominations and mainstream theologians accept this theory as truth. But what does the Bible have to say on the matter? As we dive more deeply into Scripture, let me leave you with this hint from Romans 10:1:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.