Chosen by God.
Deuteronomy 25-26, Acts 1
You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice. And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised. – Deuteronomy 26:17-19 ESV
The Jews were God’s chosen people. They were the descendants of Abraham, the very offspring God had promised to give him after having called him out of Ur. Now they stood on the edge of the very land God had promised to give Abraham as his inheritance. God’s original promise to Abraham had contained three parts: A land, a seed, and a blessing. The land was almost theirs. All they had to do was go in and conquer it according to God’s plan. Obviously, God had given Abraham many descendants or seed, because by this time the Jews were large in number. But as Paul reminds us in the book of Galatians, God’s promise regarding the seed was not just referring to the fact that Abraham would have many descendants. He would have a very specific descendant, through whom God would bless all the people of the earth. “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ” (Galatians 3:16 NASB). God had something far greater in store for the people of Israel than simply their occupation of a particular plot of land somewhere in the Middle East. He had a more important reason for choosing them than just the pouring out of His divine grace, favor and mercy on them alone. God had set them apart in order that through them He might bring about the birth of His Son. The people of Israel were integral to God’s plan for redeeming mankind. To them alone He had revealed His divine will and given His holy commandments. They experienced His divine presence. They enjoyed the benefits of His immense power and immeasurable grace. They were a people holy to the Lord, a conduit through which He would bring His Son into the world in order that He might bless the world.
What does this passage reveal about God?
God never does anything without a reason. His actions are always purposeful and meaningful. And while we might not always understand His ways, they are always righteous and just. God Himself tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 44:8-9 ESV). God had His reasons for choosing Abraham. He had a plan in mind when He made the people of Israel His prized possession. He had a purpose behind the giving of His commandments to a people who could never keep them. There was a reasonable explanation to His making of a covenant with a nation who could never uphold their end of the agreement. A cursory study of the history of the people of Israel, as revealed in the Old Testament, would seem to reveal that they were a failed experiment that didn’t quite turn out as planned. But the New Testament reveals that God’s their seeming failure was actually preparation for the second part of His divine plan. While they would fail to be the blessing to the nations He had commanded them to be, He would still bless the nations through them. He would send His own Son as a descendant of Abraham. Jesus would be born a Jew, in fulfillment of God’s promise to give the people of Israel a permanent King from the house and lineage of King David. Jesus appeared on the scene during a time in which the nation of Israel was struggling under the heavy hand of Rome. They were once again subject to the humiliating domination of a foreign power. They lacked a king, an army, and a national identity. They were weak, powerless, and hopeless, left to wonder where their long-awaited Messiah might be and when God was going to restore them to His divine favor. But when Jesus came, He declared a kingdom of a different sort than they were expecting. He came to offer a release from captivity to something other than Roman rule. His was a spiritual kingdom offering freedom from the bondage of sin and the inevitable condemnation of death that a sinful life deserved. Jesus did not show up on earth to rule and reign, but to suffer and die. It was all a part of God’s plan.
What does this passage reveal about man?
God’s plan for mankind is sometimes hard for us to comprehend. Even the disciples were confused when Jesus’ life ended with His tragic and unexpected death by crucifixion. That was not what they had expected. It caught them off guard and left them demoralized and defeated. They went into mourning and hiding. As far as they were concerned, with the death of Jesus, their dreams were shattered. Their Messiah was dead, and so was any hope of Him setting up His kingdom on earth. But little did they know that this was all part of God’s plan. Jesus had come to suffer and die, not conquer and rule. He came to provide release from captivity to sin, not from subjugation to Rome. Jesus died, but He rose again, and He revealed Himself to those very same disciples who had given up hope and hidden themselves behind locked doors. Luke tells us, “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3 ESV). Then “he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4 ESV). There was more to God’s plan. The Holy Spirit had to come, just as Jesus had predicted. God was going to transform a ragtag group of cowering, hopeless disciples into a powerful force that would literally rock the world. These simple Jewish men and women would end up being the catalyst for a major religious upheaval that would leave the world changed forever. None of them knew what was going to happen, even though Jesus had told them in advance. They were oblivious was to what God was going to do to them and through them in the days ahead. But God had chosen them for a reason. The disciples had thought their role as followers of Jesus was to be His assistants and co-rulers when He set up His kingdom on earth. Little did they know that they were going to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 ESV). God had great things in store for them.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
God has a plan that is far greater than anything I could have ever imagined. His choosing of me has far greater ramifications than just my own personal salvation and escape from the consequences of my own sin. God didn’t choose me just to save me. He wants to use me. Just like the disciples, I am to be a witness for Him on this earth. I am to be His ambassador, spreading the good news of His Kingdom wherever I go. I have been chosen so that I might witness to His grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. I have received the “promise of the Father” in the form of the Holy Spirit, so that I might have the power necessary to accomplish all that God has for me to do on this earth during my lifetime. It isn’t about me. It is about God’s Kingdom and the fulfillment of His plan for all of mankind. The disciples had thought it was all over. But little did they know that it was all just beginning. Their greatest days were ahead of them, not behind them. God was going to use them in incredible ways to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and salvation to the ends of the earth. And we are still part of that ongoing process. I must be about the work of the Kingdom. I must see my role here as an extension of what was begun by the first disciples of Christ all those years ago. God’s plan is not yet finished. His redemption of mankind is not yet complete. His Son has not yet returned. So until He does, we have work to do. It was for this task that we were chosen.
Father, keep me focused on Your plan, not my own. Use me to accomplish Your will, rather than my own. I want to live with Kingdom purpose and a future focus. Your plan is still being unfolded, day by day. I want to be part of that plan. Never let me forget that You chose me for a purpose – not just to take me to heaven some day – but to make a difference on this earth as one of Your chosen ones. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men