They weren't The Chosen People. They weren't the children of Abraham though they were the descendants of Noah as we all are. Unlike Abraham, their particular branch of Noah's family had followed the rest of the crowd and turned away from God to the point that He allowed them to go their own way. This sounds a bit like the story Jesus told about The Prodigal Son, doesn't it.
It seems so clear-cut to us most of the time. God chose the Israelites. God gave them The Promised Land and helped them destroy their idolatrous enemies. Because God's judgement fell upon these people we make the assumption that God did not love them and made no attempt whatsoever to save them from judgement. I believe we are wrong in our assumption.
We forget we see only a part of God's story. I would go so far as to suggest that what we see is only a small part of the story and that our understanding of that story is rather limited. What we do truly understand is not due to any intelligence on our part but upon the revelation of the Holy Spirit. He is our teacher and we need to remember that.
We do get glimpses of God at work amongst the gentiles. This is not restricted merely to the New Testament. We see it in the Old Testament as well. Sometimes it is in the lives of individuals such as Rahab and Naaman but we also have an excellent example of this work being done on a larger scale. The City of Ninevah.
I'd never thought much about it but the Book of Jonah is about God's love story. These Gentiles knew nothing about God and had committed horrible atrocities even against God's very own people. They were guilty of breaking God's Law and deserved death. They had been judged and sentenced. However, God had mercy and compassion on them. He loved these people... though they certainly did not deserve it.
So God sent Jonah to warn them of the coming judgement. They heeded God's words, even though the messenger, Jonah, had no love or compassion for them. He wanted them punished and destroyed. The people of Ninevah confessed their sin, they repented and pleaded with God for mercy and his response was to give them mercy, grace... and life. Why? Because even though they were not the "chosen people" God loved them.
You may believe God's warning to the people of Ninevah so that they would have an opportunity to repent is an isolated event but I don't. I believe that throughout history, God has revealed Himself to all of humanity, one way or another. Though the deliverance of this message may come in different forms, the message is still the same. Our sin has separated us from God and the punishment for sin is death BUT God loves us so much that Jesus Christ came as the sacrifice for our sins and that whosever will call (Strong's Greek: 1941) on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
This is our story isn't it? Only unlike Jonah, the reluctant messenger, Jesus Christ loved us so much that He willingly sacrificed His life and shed His own blood that we might be saved. We are undeserving but God loves us anyway...all of us!
A wake up call using the story of Jonah as an example. We need to remember that God chose Israel not only because he loved them but they were to be a light to the gentiles even then; so that the nations could see God at work among his children and decide that they to wanted the God of Israel to be their god.