The Judean WildernessAs Christians, we read in the Hebrew Scriptures (which we refer to, somewhat incorrectly, as the Old Testament) that the children of Israel were God’s “chosen” people. This “chosen”-ness often accompanies confusion, as Christians read it. Chosen for what? Too often, I hear people assume that this “chosen”-ness means that, before Christ, all men apart from Israel were hell-bound. This is a sadly mistaken interpretation, as there is no emphasis on the afterlife in the sciptures, prior to the arrival of Christ.

So, then, what were the Israelites chosen for? Perhaps we should begin with the first usage of “chosen” in scripture for a clue:

Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him. Genesis 18:18-19

So here, we find that Abraham was chosen so that a) he and his descendants would keep to the way of the LORD; so that b) the LORD would bring about His promises. What were these promises (in relation to mission)?
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I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Genesis 12:2-3

So here we have a double-statement of the same promise. God will bless Abraham and his descendants in order that they will be a blessing to all peoples on the earth. They are blessed to be a blessing. This is then reiterated as a promise after Abraham is tested in his willingness to give up his only son, Isaac.

I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me. Genesis 22:16-18

So, once again, Abraham’s descendants are promised to be numerous so that all nations on earth will be blessed. Here again, they are blessed so that they will be a blessing.

Moving ahead several hundred years, God talks to Moses about his deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt.

Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’ Exodus 6:6-8

Here, God is demonstrating his grace, where he chooses to free people before He is their God, and then to bring them to where He will bless them, so that they can be a blessing to all nations. In being a blessing to all nations, they would then be evidence that the Lord, Yahweh, is the one and only true God. This is evidenced in the shema, which Jesus references as the greatest of all commandments.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD alone. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. when are you ovulating, cheap lioresal. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
And so it is that the theme of the Old Testament is that God’s chosen people are to be blessed so that they will be a blessing, and who are to live in such a way that the world may know that Yahweh is God, the one and only true God, of the world. When they continue to look for ways to serve other gods, they are punished – finally to be taken away into captivity in Babylon – until they finally “get it”. And so it is, when we find the people 400 years later, at the time of Christ’s birth, that idolatry is no longer a problem for the chosen people of God.

[In Part II, we will look at the role of Christians and God's "chosen" people.]


This entry was posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2007 at 1:41 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Comments so far

  1. CRN.Info and Analysis » Chosen: To what Purpose? Part I on September 27, 2007 2:34 pm

    [...] [More] [...]

  2. Robin Sampson on September 30, 2007 10:52 pm

    we read in the Hebrew Scriptures (which we refer to, somewhat incorrectly, as the Old Testament)

    Good point. Thanks. Shalom.

  3. Fishing The Abyss on October 4, 2007 5:22 pm

    [...] Chosen: To What Purpose? Part I [...]

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