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The Chosen People - Sermon

The Chosen People


1. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit...
2. [Romans 10:1-10] Context of St. Paul's epistle to the Romans
A. Tensions between the Jews and "Gentiles" in the Church of Rome.
1) "Gentile" - Non-Israelites
2) There are no Gentiles in the Church-- to be explained.
B. Question about the role of the Law.
C. Wanted to unite the Jews and Gentiles of the Church in the Gospel which he
preached.
D. The Jews were used to thinking of themselves as being part of a tribe of Israel.
1) They, like most people of that time, had a tribal mindset, a very different social
paradigm from ours today.
a) e.g., the Na'vi in the movie, "Avatar"
2) They saw themselves as members of a special tribe, chosen by God to receive a
"special deal."
3) And that "special deal" flowed to them as members of that special tribe.
E. It must have been hard for them to figure out how to make the transition now that
the Messiah had come and some of those followers of the Messiah were Gentiles!
3. Moving forward to modern times, there's still a lot of confusion, even delusion, among
Christians, especially Protestants but also some Orthodox Christians about who or
what Israel is in relation to the followers of the Messiah, or Christ.
A. [anecdote] An illustrative story about one of Susan's cousins: Recent Facebook post
in response to an article about US pressure on Israel to stop building Jewish homes in
the Palestinian section of east Jerusalem, she said, "We need to be very careful!!!
Crossing God's chosen, which they still are, is a very dangerous place to be!"
B. In light of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans that we heard today, I wanted to look at
who the Bible says Israel is and who are the Chosen People and consider why St. Paul
spent so much time, ink, and parchment addressing this issue.
C. Furthermore, ever notice how in Church services we're always referring to Israel,
Zion, Jerusalem, etc. Especially during Lent.
1) Why is that? What's with all that Israel and Zion talk?
2) Does this mean we're supposed to have unconditional allegiance to the modern
state of Israel?
4. Who or what is Israel?
A. Israel was the name given to Jacob, one of the sons of Isaac (who was the son of
Abraham) after he wrestled with an angel of the Lord.
1) had 12 sons who became the patriarchs of their tribes, called the 12 tribes of
Israel.
2) The important point here is that "Israel" is the name of a man that later became
the name of a nation.
B. In the Jewish mind, being counted among the people of Israel was paramount
because it meant getting the perks of being God's Chosen People: win battles, tracts
of land, bountiful crops, lots of sheep, lots of wives.
1) That's why being cast out of the camp, such as for various infractions of the Law
and uncleanesses, was such an extreme trauma.
a) Not just cut off from the social order-- much more than that.
because it meant getting the perks of being God's Chosen People: win battles, tracts
of land, bountiful crops, lots of sheep, lots of wives.
1) That's why being cast out of the camp, such as for various infractions of the Law
The ChosenandPeople
uncleanesses, was such an extreme trauma.
a) Not just cut off from the social order-- much more than that.
b) To them, in their understanding, it was *spiritual* death.
2) There was no understanding of being saved as an individual-- that's a uniquely
Western invention taken to absurd extremes here in Ameedica.
a) Country song, "My own personal Jesus"; Marlboro Man
3) That kind of delusion simply did not exist in the Jewish mind.
C. But what St. Paul is explaining in his epistle to the Romans is that the Body of Christ
is the true Israel and always has been.
1) One of the prayers we pray is "Come let us worship Christ our King and our God."
2) Who is Christ the king of?
3) Christ is the king of Israel!
5. So, what about the people who today call themselves Jews? Do they still belong to
God's beloved Israel anymore since they don't accept Jesus as their king?
A. I think that the answer to this question on the part of the Church should be the
same as for non-Orthodox Christians.
B. The Orthodox Church knows Herself as the Church, in other words as God's Israel.
C. As for all other Christians, and, I would add, non-Christians, or even atheists, we do
not judge them. Only God knows whether they belong to his people, his beloved
Israel or not.
D. The only thing which we know for certain is that there can be only one Israel, one
people of God, as there is only one God, and our Church understands Herself as a
witness for this oneness.
E. This was a common theme in St. Paul's epistles, including the one we heard today.
Here's another example from his epistle to the Church in Galatia:
1) For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. - Gal 3:26 KJV
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. - Gal 3:27
KJV
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither
male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. - Gal 3:28 KJV
6. So, if the true Israel is the Body of Christ, then this leads to other realizations...
A. From the point of view of the Orthodox Church it is not correct to speak about the
Church on the one hand and the Chosen People of Israel on the other, as modern
Protestants do, especially the so-called "Dispensationalists."
1) The Christian Church is not a "Church of the Gentiles." Here lies the main
misunderstanding of the Church on the part of both Judaism and Protestants.
a) BTW, the word "Gentiles" simply means "those who are not Israelites."
2) Non-Orthodox Christians can call themselves Gentiles if they want-- as many
Protestants do-- but Orthodox Christians should never call themselves Gentiles nor
acknowledge being called in this way by anyone.
3) The reason is quite simple, the main point of Christ's mission in this respect was to
destroy the wall of separation between Israel and Gentiles. According to the
Apostle Paul, Christ for us "is our peace who has made us both one and has broken
down the dividing wall of enmity"(Eph 2.14).
4) "We are all one in Christ Jesus."
B. Orthodox Christians from any ethnic, cultural or national background become Israel
in the Church, that very Israel of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

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The Chosen
4) "WePeople
are all one in Christ Jesus."
B. Orthodox Christians from any ethnic, cultural or national background become Israel
in the Church, that very Israel of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
1) This continuity, this communion with the patriarchs and prophets of Israel is a
reality in the Orthodox Faith.
2) THAT is why we read the Psalter daily, frequently quote from the Psalter during
services, frequently making mention of Israel and Zion, especially during Great
Lent-- because Christ came to fulfill Israel and make it what it was always intended
to be.
a) What is that?
b) 1Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation,
a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called
you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
c) Not separate and apart from Israel, NO! The very fulfillment of Israel! Living,
working, and creating hand-in-hand with the Living God.
C. There is an unbroken continuity from Abraham, through the Hebrew tribes in the Old
Testament to the Orthodox Church today
1) And that continuity is Christ Himself.
2) It was Christ who gave the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai; it was Christ who "redeemed
Israel out of all his afflictions" by His saving work on the Cross; it is Christ who
tears down the wall of separation between "Jew and Greek" or Jews and everyone
else.
7. Now, contrast this with the thinking of various Protestant cults today, especially the
so-called "Christian zionists" who are staunch supporters of the political state of Israel.
A. They confuse the political state of Israel, which is Israel in name only, with the true
Israel of God: the Church as the Body of Christ.
B. They fail to see that we gain Salvation only by being Israel and that Jews can gain
Salvation only by being that same Israel.
8. The Jews of Jesus' day had turned the Law into a dead idol. Presented with Jesus and
the Gospel, they had a choice:
A. Cling to the idolatry of dead works of the law, which many did and continue to do to
this day or...
B. they could choose to be part of the true, living Israel of the Promise, one based on
faith-- not dead works of the Law or genealogy.
C. Rom 10:3 NKJV
For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own
righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

Rom 10:4 NKJV


For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
9. Summary
A. Today, Israel, as a nation is merely a political entity.
1) The country in the middle east using the name of Israel is no more the true Israel
than a Federal Reserve Note is a real Dollar.
B. We, as the body of Christ, are not Gentiles. We are the people of Israel!
1) "Gentiles" is a label applied to people who are not of Israel.
a) Since we are members of the Body of Christ-- of the True Israel-- we cannot be
Gentiles!
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B. We, as the body of Christ, are not Gentiles. We are the people of Israel!
The Chosen People is a label applied to people who are not of Israel.
1) "Gentiles"
a) Since we are members of the Body of Christ-- of the True Israel-- we cannot be
Gentiles!
C. There is only one Body of Christ-- the true Israel of God. There is one Israel, one
people of God.
D. Membership in that Body is not based on your DNA, genealogy, pedigree or any of
that nonsense.
E. Membership is open to all, based on faith.
1) So, who are the Chosen People?
a) The people who choose God! So WE are the Chosen People!
b) How do we choose God?
c) Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved.
2) What does that mean, "thou shalt be saved?"
a) To St. Paul, a Jew, this meant only one thing: that you would be part of the
people of Israel.
F. So, you may be asking yourself, "Okay, so why is it important to know about all this
Israel stuff?"
1) You mean aside from the fact that St. Paul thought it was important enough to
spend lots of time, ink, and parchment on it?
2) Because this isn't just allegory or semantic word games or symbolism based on old
texts that aren't relevant today-- this IS the reality of our Faith.
3) Now, we have a choice: we can choose to believe the teachings of St. Paul, the
Church, and Christ Himself, or we can believe the lies of this world in which we are
immersed and surrounded with.
a) We are barraged with lies in the media.
b) In fact, I would say that we here in America are the most lied to people on the
planet; we live behind the electronic curtain.
4) It's important to know who we are-- as the Body of Christ, as the Orthodox Church.
a) Otherwise we're allowing heretics and non-believers and the lies of this world to
define who we are!
b) We must know the truth and we must "speak the truth in love," as St. Paul says,
(Ephesians 4:15)
5) In other words, we must proclaim the Gospel!
10. Glory to Jesus Christ!

Rdr. Socratis
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church
June 27, 2010

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