What is the distinct role of ethnic Israel?
I definitely believe that ethnic Israel is still called by God, as Romans 11:28 assures us. But that is not what I want to discuss in this thread. My question is this: if ethnic Israel has a calling that is distinct from the calling of the Jew-plus-Gentile family of God in Christ, then what exactly is that special calling? This seems to be something that is fought for with a lot of conviction by many who have a heart for Israel, but there doesn't seem to be much clarity on what it is that we are fighting for.
If what we mean by saying that Israel has a “different calling” within the unity of the body of Christ is simply that they, as a particular ethnicity, have a gift mix that some other ethnicities don’t share to the same degree (1 Cor 12 style) – well in that case I would agree wholeheartedly. Jews have a knack for business, for instance, that most Hawaiians don’t share. That’s a gift we can track all the way back to the patriarchs in Genesis. But it seems to me that there’s a big difference between all of the various gifts that individuals, families, and whole ethnicities hold respectfully and the one great covenantal calling which incorporates each of those respective gifts, the call to be the people of God for the world. Distinction with regard to the former obviously stands true now as it ever has for ethnic Israel, but with regard to the latter it obviously does not.
And here lies the problem, IMO, with saying that Israel still holds a “different calling” from Gentiles in Christ: it’s a statement seeking to maintain Israel’s separateness and singular covenantal role as seen in the OT, which was precisely the one great calling to be the people of God for the world, under the false assumption that such a separateness is coherent with the NT, which consistently declares that through Christ God has opened the door of the covenant for the Gentiles to be the people of God themselves. In other words, it’s not simply saying that Jews have a distinct role from Chinese who have a distinct role from Russians who have a distinct role from Americans, as if this were a holistic “diversity within unity” where everyone is special in their own way; rather it’s inescapably saying that Jews have a distinct role from everyone else, that they are, not as the redeemed but as Jews, a “peculiar treasure above all people” (Ex 19:5; Deut 14:2; cf., Tit 2:14).
But perhaps someone on here has more clarity on this subject. If you believe that ethnic Israel has a distinct role from that of the multi-ethnic family of God, then what exactly is that role?
"Test all things; hold fast what is good." - Advice from the Apostle Paul