The following was offered by Dr. John F. Walvoord at the dedication of Chosen People Ministries’ International headquarters building in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Why a Jewish mission? Why don’t we have an African mission, or a French mission, or an English mission? Of course the reason is quite simple — the Jews are a very special people. This is not a matter of our opinion, it is a matter of scriptural revelation.
It’s rather amazing that you can study the history of the church and see how blind the theologians and leaders of the church often were to the declared revelation of the Word of God concerning the special purpose of the nation of Israel. In fact, some of their theologians went so far as to say that it was impossible to save a Jew. How could they be so blind? After all, the early church was predominantly Jewish!
A Peculiar Place
We have Paul raising the question regarding the peculiar place of Israel in Romans 9, 10, 11 and in verse 3 and following in Chapter 9, he said this:
“I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”
Then he lists the things that are distinct.
“Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”
A Distinctive People
What a distinctive people! Not by human choice or by an accident of history, but by Divine choice they are a chosen people. I think that it is so significant that this mission has now adopted a name (Chosen People Ministries) that embraces that concept of a “chosen people” who require a special ministry from God.
Now let’s review just briefly some of the reasons why the Jewish people are so special.
In Genesis chapter 12 , we’re introduced to Abraham, mentioned also in chapter 11. It is indicated by prophetic declaration that Abram was going to be a great man and that he was going to be a father of a great nation and that the whole world would be blessed through him. Those are great and extensive promises and you can’t say that of any other person. And it’s all been graphically fulfilled already. He is a great man. We’re talking about him 4,000 years after he lived!
The Promise of the Land
Then there is the promise of the land. You remember in Genesis 12:7 how God promised that Abraham and his heirs would inherit the land. It sounds so simple, but this happens to be a dividing point for systematic theology. There are many who try one way or another to explain that text away and make the land refer to heaven. How often in our human knowledge we talk about the land of Canaan and being in heaven, or crossing the Jordan and going to heaven. The Jordan isn’t crossing over to heaven. The Jordan River typically is the death of Christ and Canaan, the land that Israel possessed in our present experience.
No, the land means the land. And sometimes as I preach I like to go through the whole Old Testament – text after text after text. Genesis 13 where God tells Abraham to look at the land and says, ” This is the land you received through an inheritance.” Chapter 15 where He gives the boundaries. Chapter 17 where He promises that they’ll inherit Canaan forever. And Chapter 26 where He repeats the promise to Isaac. Then Chapter 28 where He repeats the promise to Jacob. Then you move on into Deuteronomy and Moses’ declaration. Joshua chapter 1 where it says the promise will be extended through him to possess every bit of land that they put their foot on.
And as you read through the prophets, the major prophets and the minor prophets, it’s almost overwhelming, again and again and again – the land. The land that God promises Israel, they would somehow inherit and possess and never be dispossessed again, as we’re told in Amos 9:15.
Blind to God’s Purpose
To me it’s unbelievable that capable scholars who were undoubtedly devoted Christians and who read the same Bible that we read could be so blind to God’s purpose for Israel. That’s why the early church after the first century didn’t have any special missions to the Jews. They just neglected them, condemned them. They held that the curses of the Old Testament fell on this people but the blessings would not – they were transferred to the Church somehow.
It is a strange method of interpretation and it really wasn’t until the last part of the 19th century that there started to be an awakening of which this was a partial result. In the great prophetic conferences held in the last part of the 19th century, as they faced the question of the future, it gradually emerged that Israel was the key to understanding God’s purpose. Then on into the 20th century, not only this Mission, but many others have attempted in a special way to reach the people of Israel.
Then, of course, so much more could be said about the special places Israel and Jewish people occupy. To Israel was given the Mosaic Law and all of its regulations, the promises of the Davidic Kingdom – that there is going to come a son of David to reign upon the throne forever. And of course this is related to Christ’s second coming and His Millenial Kingdom.
A Special Love
Yes, Israel is a special people and they deserve special treatment. When you study the history of the church you find that what the church preeminently did was to kill Jews who wouldn’t accept Christ – they killed them by the thousands. I think it calls for a special love and a special consideration and special treatment for these who, racially, have been chosen of God to be a part of the Jewish nation. Then we must do what we can, of course, to bring them to Christ.
I think it is very important to put into the hands of a Jew not simply an oral testimony, but a measured, reasonable approach and presentation of the Truth.
And it’s so important that we support this work in our prayers – that we are patient with Jewish people who don’t catch on immediately and with a work like this that you support it financially. Obviously, many works of the Lord are hindered by a lack of financial support and how important it is that this ministry have all that it needs to extend the Gospel through its missionaries.
So tonight we’ve come to a historic time in the history of this mission. I think it’s thrilling that after these many years this Mission has taken a gigantic forward step into this new Headquarters and all that it entails in increased efficiency in its operation and ministry. We pray God’s blessings upon the work and that this organization will prosper under the good hand of God.
Dr. John F. Walvoord, Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary, first had contact with this ministry in 1942 in New York City, when, during the war, a great Bible conference was hosted by Joseph Hoffman Cohn, the son of Rabbi Leopold Cohn, the founder of Chosen People Ministries.