In my most recent blog entry, Israel’s Suffering, I wrote about a key issue that one must understand when dealing with earthly suffering, and that is the fact that God sees things differently than we do; His perspective is very different from ours.
We know that God made an unconditional covenant with the people of Israel; it carries some great promises, which include abundant blessings and a land. It is a covenant that we continue to witness being fulfilled even in our day and age, which is a great privilege! But, as I often say, with great privilege comes great responsibility.
Let us understand that the covenant, which God made with the people of Israel, was an unconditional covenant. That means that He alone promised to uphold His end regardless of whether or not Israel upheld their end. In reality, through His covenant with Israel, we see His endless love and grace, from which we can find our hope today. Yes, God chose Israel but there was a purpose, a calling for Israel, which unfortunately, we have not fully adhered to, even until today. And we have suffered greatly because of it:
“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
God chose the people of Israel for His own possession, to be for Him a Kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. Throughout the years we, the Jewish people, have failed to fulfill this specific calling, and as we see in His Word, the result has been His discipline. I know this assertion is troublesome for many, and I want to say clearly that our suffering is not always connected to us having done something wrong! It is not a one-to-one function. This is a difficult assertion for many people to accept, especially for the many innocent Jewish people throughout the millennia who have suffered greatly, having been targeted just because they’re Jewish. Some would even go so far as to label such an assertion as “anti-Semitic”. But, let’s keep our focus on the Scriptures to explain my reasoning.
In the book of Jeremiah, the LORD clearly states that Israel’s disobedience has brought about severe discipline:
‘For I am with you,’ declares the LORD, ‘to save you; For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, Only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly, And will by no means leave you unpunished.’ Jeremiah 30:11
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!
In the coming blog entries, we will continue to study this important topic. It is widely misunderstood within the Body of Messiah, and it is a foundational principle of our understanding of Him. In the meantime, let us continue to reflect on His amazing grace, and the reason that God chose you for His Kingdom. Are you answering His call?
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