Saturday, October 03, 2009

What it means to be "God's Chosen People"

It seems to me that a great many people misunderstand what God is doing what God chooses people. Trace back in your mind, all the way back to the book of Genesis. God chose Abraham, of all people on earth. Abraham was uniquely blessed. Nobody else was blessed in the same way that he was. But the purpose God had in choosing Abraham was not only to honor and bless Abraham, but also to bless the whole world through Abraham (Gen 12:1-3). The point of being chosen is to be a chosen vessel, and through Abraham God begins to bless the earth again. He is chosen not to be God's sole recipient of blessing, but to be the channel through which further blessings would spread. If Abraham ever once thought he was blessed just to set him apart as "I'm chosen and you're not", the Bible doesn't mention that.

Consider the ancient Israelites. Their literature shows that they understood their own sacrifices offered at their annual feasts to be on behalf of all the nations on earth. They anticipated a day when all nations on earth would come and pray with them, and all would know God. They were not chosen to be an elite who should think to themselves "We're chosen and they're not"; they were chosen to be a vessel of God's blessing to the world.

Consider Jesus' apostles. Among all the Israelites in God's Chosen People, they were uniquely hand-picked by Jesus, "chosen" in a very direct and visible way during his earthly ministry. Again, they were not chosen to be in an elevated echelon with the thought "I'm chosen and you're not". They were chosen to serve the others and lead the others, and those who desired to be the greatest were told to then be servants to all: they would be servants delivering blessings, not elites enjoying perks. They were sent out as vessels of very unique blessings: the knowledge of the Lord and the spirit of the Lord. They were sent to convey these blessings to the whole world by baptizing and teaching. They were chosen to take Christ to the world.

Some tend to portray the "chosen" as a fixed and static group that is intended for blessing while others are not. This is not a Scriptural view of what it means to be God's chosen, God's elect. In Scripture, being God's chosen always means to be a chosen vessel to carry God's blessing into the world to those who have not yet received it.


ahswan said...


Howard said...

Excellent use of the example of Abraham - a man who spent most of his life 'blessing' those around him. That is what genuine faith allows - a confidence in the promises of God frees us to begin to become people who can care for others, not is a legalistic but a genuine fashion once more, because community and reconciliation are the currency of redemption.

Unknown said...

I was wondering what you had in mind as references when you said this: "to be on behalf of all the nations on earth."

Weekend Fisher said...

Howard: Nicely put. I like that.

Andrew: When the Temple in Jerusalem still stood, the Jews considered that some of the sacrifices they offered also atoned for the other nations. In their reckoning there were 70 nations in the world, and the 70 bullocks offered at one point in their liturgical year atoned for the 70 nations. So it's not like Israel understood their being the Chosen People as meaning that they were the only ones on whom God had mercy. They understood that they were a means of blessing to the other nations, whether the other nations knew it or not. If you'd like a little more background on that you can read here:

Take care & God bless

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