Written by Don West
The previous nine articles on Israel and the land which it presently occupies as a sovereign, Jewish, and democratic nation-state have attempted to establish that God, in His sovereign will, chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel and their descendants forever to be the beneficiary of His special election, favor, and gift of the land that comprises their territory. But the question arises as to why. Why? What is the reason or reasons for this choice of Israel and largesse of the land by God?
Obviously, consideration of God’s sovereignty and sole, singular, and divine will does much to answer the question. God does as He chooses, without consultation or collaboration, and none of us mere, finite, mortals (I recognize the redundancy here) is in a position to even raise the issue, let alone demand an answer from Him. Yet, I do not believe God objects to either our wonderings or our questions. In fact, he probably desires that we all would contemplate Him and His works far more frequently than we do. But knowing our inclination to curiosity long before we would ever become aware of the issue, He, I believe, would graciously provide insight into the matter, if not the definitive answer itself; by and through a couple of revelatory love letters He dictated to us centuries ago: the Old and the New Testaments. So it is to His Word that we look for guidance on this matter, and it appears that there are, in addition to God’s sovereignty, at least three additional prongs of reasoning for His having done as He did: faithfulness, wickedness, and spitefulness. Let’s take a look.
We are instructed within the book of Hebrews that “without FAITH it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6. And as most of you reading this article are well aware, the beginning of the entire narrative of Israel is initiated by God’s selection of Israel’s first and great patriarch Abraham who endeared himself to God by his trust of and faith in God’s plan, will, and work in his life; the lack of which (faith) would have seriously undermined if not eliminated all that has followed regarding God’s and Abraham’s people’s subsequent history. Three thousand eight hundred years worth of subsequent history.
For, (8) “[b]y FAITH, Abraham obeyed when he was called (by God) to go out to the place (Canaan) which he would afterward receive as an inheritance (from God; and which today just happens to be the primary place where Abraham’s descendants now live as the nation of Israel). And he went out (on faith in God), not knowing where he was going. (9) By FAITH he sojourned in the land of promise (Canaan/Israel) as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;…”
Thus God, in dealing with Abraham, tested him repeatedly and saw that Abraham repeatedly responded by obedience (with, I admit, some divergences) “[a]nd he believed in the Lord, and He (God) accounted it to him (Abraham) for RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Gen 15:6. And consequently, God’s blessings therefore continued to flow to God’s servant Abraham, as well as his son and child of promise, Isaac, and his grandson, Jacob/Israel: namely, a steadily evolving nation and the gift of a land for that nation of Israelites to dwell in. Clearly, one of the most significant messages that God as sent to us through His Word is that faith in Him is critical, essential, elemental; and that responding to God and His truths faithfully and obediently brings great, even incalculable blessings: and ultimately, the ultimate blessing of all: God’s righteousness and God’s adoption of us by reason of our faith in His Son Jesus, the Christ. But in the Patriarchs’ time, and before the coming of Jesus, their faithful and obedient responses to God’s directives would result in nationhood and territory for their descendants: Israel.
An additional reason for Israel’s selection by God and His grant of the land to them is that He simply chose to love them and make them a very special, set-apart, and peculiar people. And by peculiar here, we mean uniquely related to God, and hence separate from all other nations and ethnicities on this earth. Moses establishes this line of thought beginning in Deuteronomy 7:6: “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. (7) The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; (8) but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath (God is also faithful) which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (9) Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; (10) and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him. He will repay him to his face. (Notice the repetition here. I think this means He means it; and this should be a sobering reminder and warning to us all of the consequences of the rejection of a loving God who has accomplished all, repeat all, that is necessary to redeem and reconcile us to Him; if we will just come in faith and obedience to His Son, and Redeemer of mankind, Jesus.)
We should pause here and review just exactly what Moses was referring to when he told the nation of Israel that God was keeping the oath which He swore to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel. That oath of God’s can be found beginning at Genesis 12:1: “Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. (2) I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. (3) I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” So the nation of Israel, finally poised and prepared to invade the land of Canaan, beginning with Jericho; listening to an address by Moses that would be, for all intents and purposes, his dying declaration (the content of Deuteronomy); was being reminded by Moses that they were the beneficiaries of a selection made by God centuries before when He chose their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel; and that they were the object of a special love that was solely and only prompted and initiated by God. Simply put: the people of Israel had absolutely nothing to do with what God had chosen to do.
In fact, the people of Israel, due to their rebellion and sin, had done just about everything in their power to dissuade God from keeping the oath that He had made to the Patriarchs. And we can grasp that from more of Moses address, in the following verses, to the nation of Israel before he died. A death which, by the way, was the consequence of Israel’s rebellious behavior while in the wilderness, which caused an exasperated Moses to sin against his God. And we will further learn from these same verses, I believe, the major reason for God’s intended eviction and destruction of the Canaanites from the land in the first place.
Deut. 9:1. “Hear, O Israel. You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater than yourself, and cities great and fortified up to heaven…(3) Therefore understand today that the Lord your God is He who goes before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the Lord has said to you. (4) Do not think in your heart after the Lord your God has cast them out before you, saying ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess their land; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out from before you. (5) It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you and that He may fulfill the word (faithfulness) which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (6) Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people. (7) Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. (8) Also in Horeb (Mount Sinai) you provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry enough to destroy you.” And then Moses goes on to recount to the nation that the Lord sent him down to deal with them, whom after forty days of Moses’ absence on the mountain, had decided to substitute a calf made of gold for the God of the universe (the apogee of insanity, rebellion, sin, and disobedience).
Moses had learned of Israel’s behavior when (12)…”the Lord said to me, ‘Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have acted corruptly; they have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made themselves a molded image.’ (13) Furthermore, the Lord spoke to me, saying, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people. (14) Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven; and I will make of you (Moses) a nation mightier and greater than they.’” Moses, much to his credit and humility, would decline the opportunity and thereafter spend the next forty days and nights without food and water pleading with God not to destroy the people He had chosen. Obviously, Moses pleadings were heard and granted, for here they are today (2011); resisting, contending, and striving with a mostly hostile, hateful, and hubristic international confederation of the United Nations, the European Union, the Russians, the Muslim alliance, and unfortunately, but incrementally, the United States.
But, due to the sovereignty of God, the faithfulness of both God and the Patriarchs, the wickedness of the Canaanites, and in spite of His rebellious and stiff-necked people, Israel; God would nevertheless choose, love, and provide His chosen with a nation-state and the land on which it would exist. Just typical of God’s patience, longsufferance, and forbearance. THANK GOD!!!
Don West is a new columnist and speaker for Prophecy Matters. His passion for Israel and prophecy is instantly contagious. He is a professor at North Arkansas College in Harrison Arkansas. Dr. West holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas.
(adapted from The Boone County Spotlight; used with permission)