I devoted my most recent blog entry, Israel’s Disobedience, to the issue of Israel’s suffering. As I was praying about this week’s blog, I felt the burden to repeat this important part of last week’s blog: God’s grace and forgiveness does not make any of us exempt from suffering the consequences of our disobedience. When we willingly choose to ignore His warnings, and rebel against Him, we will suffer the consequences. We have somehow come to expect that God’s grace, while covering a multitude of sin, will also keep us from the fallout of our choices. My brothers and sisters, God’s economy does not work that way!
And Israel is certainly no exception. God does not play favorites! Israel’s willing rebellion against Him, His calling, and His principles have brought about some of the greatest destruction in the history of humankind. She “played the harlot” with other nations, their false gods, and is likened to an adulterous woman in her marriage to God Almighty. Israel essentially turned her back on her faithful husband, and the consequences have brought about some of the greatest suffering a people have experienced.
Yet, while Israel has suffered greatly as a result of her rebellion, God has never abandoned her, and never will; He has remembered His covenant with Israel, and will be faithful to complete what He began in her (see Jeremiah 30:12-17). Is this because Israel is more special or better than any other people? No. It is because of God Almighty’s faithfulness! His choosing Israel is a reflection upon Him alone; He alone is full of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and faithfulness. We can trust that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
With that in mind, I would like to explore a bit deeper some important words from Exodus 19:3-6:
“And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” Exodus 19:3-6
To paraphrase, God tells the people of Israel that they themselves saw His amazing, unlimited power and grace when He (God) redeemed and delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Not only that, but they also witnessed what God did to the Egyptians who, just as a reminder, defiled and denied the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We then learn of something extraordinary, where God actually explains why He acted so faithfully and graciously towards Israel. He explains that the act of redemption was to bring them to Him! It was not because of Israel, but because God desired Israel to be His and no one else’s. He delivered them from slavery into freedom, but that freedom was not intended for them to do whatever they wanted and live however they chose. Rather, because of this freedom, they could live a life freely within the boundaries that God had set for them.
Israel’s calling of the past is indeed the same today, but will only be totally fulfilled in the future. (Romans 11:29) What exactly is Israel’s calling? It is to be a kingdom of priests, i.e., servants of God who represent God on this earth, and a holy nation set apart for the Almighty. As I mentioned, while this calling has never changed, it will only be fulfilled in the future once Israel collectively acknowledges and accepts their Redeemer, Yeshua the Messiah, the One that God sent to them to redeem them from spiritual slavery.
Again, that act of redemption will not be because of a game of “favorites”, but rather because of God’s unlimited faithfulness and grace:
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25
Israel will finally be able to fulfill her calling to be a “Kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Until then, we may continue to see acts of chastising Israel; however, let us not be fools and think that this is an act of hatred on God’s part! It is actually an act of love:
“My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD, or loathe His reproof, for whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12
In the meantime, if you are a follower of Yeshua the Messiah, I would like to challenge you with this question: for what reason did God redeem you from slavery of sin to becoming a son or daughter of the King?
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