It’s hard to be the favored child. If you don’t believe it, ask any favored child. Because of favored status, allowances are made for transgressions, but much much more is required and expected.
Israel is God’s favored child. You will see it over and over in our readings. The Psalmist wrote: He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the Lord” (147:19-20). Isaiah wrote: 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life” (43:3-4). Through Jeremiah God says: “I am with you and will save you. Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished’” (30:11).
Being God’s favored child has been an accident of birth. Israel did not get to choose to be God’s people. They were born into that covenant as descendants of Jacob. But chapter 31 speaks of a time when that will no longer be true, when becoming God’s child will be a matter of choice. Notice it plainly in verse 34: No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
One could be a part of the covenant of Abraham and Sinai by just being born – with no knowledge at all of God, but that would not be true with the new covenant, the one Jesus came to make. That covenant would require a prior knowledge of God, and a choice to be a part of it.
God’s people, Christians, are the favored people. They are permitted this status by God’s grace, receive it through Christ’s sacrifice, and enter it through choice. But having entered it, we must all recognize that much more is expected of us, because the promises available to us are much much greater.