Why did God choose Israel?
In our group of young people there are sometimes moments that are like Christmas. The boys made an effort, e.g. at the city game. You ran through the streets with your lungs out and your legs in. In the end, one team won. Each of the winners can then choose something from a large backpack: toys, but also useful objects. You can safely imagine this situation. We can use it to make ourselves aware of what “election” or “choose” means.
I. Word meaning
With the help of the boy - let's call him Hans - we can make the range of meanings of the word "election" clear.
1. Someone makes a decision.
Hans looks at the objects and then he makes up his mind. On the basis of various possibilities he has decided on one thing - in other words: he has chosen the object.
2. Someone calls out.
Hans reaches for it and pulls one object out of the rucksack. This process meets the most common word for choosing in the New Testament: eklegomai = to call out.
3. Someone finds favor.
Another boy had only finished second. He would love to swap places with Hans. But the latter has taken a liking to his choice and rejects the exchange. In Hebrew, the word "choose" is mostly used for bachar. The meaning “to please” (Isa 58,6), “desire” (2. Sam 19,39), even “precious” and “exquisite” (Proverbs 8,10 or 19) resonates here.
4. Connectedness between the chosen and the chosen.
Hans no longer lets his chosen object out of sight. Often he doesn't even give it away. This creates a relationship between the two, whoever has chosen, and the object. With Hans this may not last long. But when it comes to the "election" of the spouse, for example, then it becomes clear how close the connection between the two becomes. Because there is also the concept of love. The chosen spouse is the loved one.
II. Who Is Chosen in the Bible?
1. God chooses people.
The Bible repeatedly describes processes where individual people are chosen by God. We meet e.g. Noah (Gen 6,5ff), Abraham (Neh 9,7; Isa 41,8), Moses (Ps 106,23) or also Aaron (Ps 105,26).
The importance of the term “election” is shown by the fact that the “servant of God” is also chosen (Isa. 42, 1). And by servant of God the Messiah is meant, according to our Christian understanding Jesus Christ himself.
2. God chooses groups of people.
It is clear to us that God chooses individual people. But it must become clear to us that God chose not only individual people but also entire groups. So it is not about the perfection of the individual person, but also a group with different - also in faith different people - is chosen by God. Examples of this are the group of priests (Deuteronomy 18.5; 1.Chr 15.2; 2.Chr 29.11) or that of kings (1.Sam 10:24; 2.Sam 6:21; 1 .Chr 28,4ff).
3. God chooses the people of Israel.
In addition to people and groups of people, God has chosen a people: the people of Israel. God called it, set it apart, and saved it. Rescue from Egyptian captivity is typical. This is mentioned again and again in the individual books of the Bible with a fixed phrase: The God "who brought you out of the land of Egypt ...". This becomes particularly clear in Deuteronomy 4:20. Here “being his people” and “leading out” are placed in close communion.
4. The church of Jesus.
While in the Old Testament the election lies on the people of Israel, the New Testament expands this election: The New Testament people of God are those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and live with him (Mk 13.20ff; Col.3.12 and 2 Timothy 2:10).
Did the election of the people of Israel end with the election of the New Testament church? No! God did not cast Israel out. He does not revoke his election! It is shown in the fact that a remnant of the people of Israel believes in Jesus Christ and is thus connected with salvation.
The people of Israel and the New Testament Church of Jesus share the following principles of election.
III. Principles of election
1. Election is the expression of the world domination and sovereignty of God
God is the creator. Therefore God can and may choose. With the election of people, groups or his people, he emphasizes his power (Rom. 9.22ff). God is the creator, but man is a creature.
God can make a person or even a people his property (Exodus 19: 6) because all peoples (all people) belong to him (Am 3: 2). This election relates not only to people and things, time belongs to God too. Therefore he can choose the Sabbath as the day of rest, and he alone chooses the day of Jesus' return.
Election means: God is unique and holy!
2. Election is the expression of God's free mercy
Hans from the group of young people can give reasons why he chose this item. It's the merits, the qualities that made him choose. The Bible answers the question “Why Israel of all places? Why this person of all people? ”Not with the virtues or qualities of the chosen one. On the contrary! There is no "reasonable" cause.
Examples make this clear:
- Deuteronomy 7: 7:
"The LORD did not accept you and choose you because you were greater than all peoples - for you are the smallest of all peoples."
- Deuteronomy 9: 6:
"So now know that the LORD your God does not give you this good land to own because of your righteousness, since you are a stubborn people."
But then what is the reason? This is also described in the Bible:
- Deuteronomy 7: 8:
“... but because he loved you and so that he kept his oath which he swore to your fathers. That is why he brought you out with a mighty hand and has redeemed you from bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. "
- Deuteronomy 9.5:
"For you do not come in to take their land, for the sake of your righteousness and your upright heart, but the LORD your God drives these peoples out because of their wicked conduct, that he may keep the word that he swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. "
- Deuteronomy 10:14 f: "Behold, the heavens and all the heavens, the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, that is the LORD your God."
"And yet he only accepted your fathers that he loved them, and chose their offspring, namely you, from all peoples, just as it is today."
The reason is fidelity to his promise and his love for his, i.e. the chosen people. It is his free, compassionate choice that prompts him to make this election. So those chosen by him are often not the strong, but the poor, the weak, the guilty and the underprivileged. (1.Cor 1.26, ff and Jak 2.5). Examples are the refugee Moses, the shepherd boy David, the simple fisherman Peter and Paul, the persecutor of the church of Jesus.
Election is an expression of a strong bond!
This is particularly clear where Jesus is referred to as the chosen Son of God (Lk 9:35).
3. Election is election to service
With the election, God gives a task at the same time (Deuteronomy 4,37ff and 10,12ff).
Thus, with his promise, Abraham receives the commission that he should “become a blessing for all generations on earth” (Genesis 12: 3). Whoever has been chosen becomes a witness of the uniqueness of God: Isa. 43,10.12; 44.8 and 45.4ff. But the election must not lead to arrogance. Elected have to serve! So Paul is a chosen instrument of God for the mission to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15), the Christian community is the "chosen generation" to witness the "glorious deeds of God" (1 Peter 2,9).
Because the elect have a special position, they are especially called to account (Am 3: 2).
Election involves a task
4. Election is the comfort and hope of the church
Those who understand the election correctly will be able to become aware of the comfort and hope that we are offered in election. It was precisely during the Babylonian captivity that the people of Israel became aware of this anew. "We are chosen by God!" In the book of Isaiah from chapter 40 the main statement becomes: "Do not be afraid, Israel, whom I have chosen ..." (Isa. 41: 8f and 44: 1). Despite the failure of the (chosen) people, God holds fast to his election and is faithful to Israel.
The chosen one can confidently look to the future! God doesn't force anyone
5. The election is not withdrawn by God. However, it can be gambled away.
Then when the chosen do not fulfill the commission given to them by God or when they do not correspond to the election in everyday life (e.g. Saul). The chosen one who does not obey God should not be surprised if God withdraws his commission (2 Kings 21, 14 and 23, 27; Ps 78,59f 67f and Jer 33,24ff.). So Israel is held responsible for having wasted the great opportunity that it was offered with the election (Ezek. 20: 5ff).
Election can be gambled away by the chosen
6. What about the non-elect?
The danger is that we divide people into the chosen and the non-chosen. This is incorrect for two reasons. For one thing, it's not our job to divide people into these categories. That is reserved for God the Creator. On the other hand, the election does not mean at the same time that the non-chosen is rejected. If God chooses person X, this does not mean that God automatically pronounces his “no” to person Y. On the contrary, it is the task of the chosen one to bring salvation to the many.
The opposite of “chosen” is not “rejected”!
7. Election must not lead to pride and pious arrogance
Just as the belief that being saved or also being God's co-worker is not one's own merit, neither is election one's own merit. By grace alone - so Luther said - we are chosen. Paul makes it clear that as chosen we are kept and kept (cf. Rom 8:30, 33).
No pride can and must not arise, because the elect need God's forgiveness and help. Paul makes this clear in various places:
- 1.Cor 1.26ff:
“Look, dear brothers, at your calling. Not many wise according to the flesh, not many powerful, not many respected are called. (27) But what is foolish in the eyes of the world, God chose that he might put the wise to shame; and what is weak in the world, that God has chosen to put to shame what is strong; (28) And God chose what is little before the world and what is despised, that which is nothing, so that he might destroy what is something, (29) so that no one should boast before God. "
- John 15:16:
"You did not choose me, but I chose you ..."
Election must not lead to arrogance!
8. Election leads to worship
The correct response to God's free choice is to praise, thank, and praise God. It is not for nothing that Paul put “praise for the miraculous ways of God” at the end of his section on Israel (Rom. 9-11) (Rom. 11.33ff). Here it becomes clear that election must lead to the praise of God and not to man's self-glory. In the same way Eph 1: 3 takes up this hymn of praise to continue in verse 4 "for in him (Christ) he chose us ...".
The real praise of God protects us from false pride and arrogance.
The answer to election is the praise of God
9. What does election help me?
It leads me to gratitude and joy. It gives me hope for my future and the certainty that I will be safe in God's arms. And knowing about my election leads me to humility: It is God who works both in me: willing and doing! (after Phil 2:13).
Election is a gift from God to me!
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