A Called People

Dear Reader,

In our Sunday school class we read Deuteronomy 4:33-34:

“Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?”  [ESV]

And I was thinking about how God chooses and calls His people out of somewhere. Abraham was called to leave Ur. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. God’s people throughout history have been called out from their nations and made into one new people whose citizenship is in heaven.

And as far as I can recall, this is a unique story in the ancient Near East. I can’t think of other ancient peoples who have a story like this. For one thing, the story always begins in kind of a bad place. There is something to be rescued from here. It is not a story about illustrious, heroic ancestors. It is a story about second sons, slaves, fallen women, and tax collectors. God’s people are hardly ever the best. But He nonetheless calls them out of where they are and makes them  into His own. Perhaps we in a Christian or post-Christian society are not struck by this. But it should be shocking that a nation would found their identity not on the heroes of old but on the weakest.

Rather than being proud, as we look back at all those God has chosen, we should be humbled. He clearly does not choose the loveliest or smartest or most worthy. Usually, he does just the opposite. So that His power and not our own may be displayed.

This is just the opposite of what Jesus’ disciples even expected. When He said it was hard for a rich man to get into heaven, their response was “LOrd, then who can be saved?!” They assumed if not the rich (who appear blessed bt God), then no one could be saved. We, having been reared on stories if tax collectors and slaves and prostitutes being saved, tend to assume the opposite, that rich equals greedy and poor equals virtuous. But the truth is, it is not just hard bt impossible for any to be saved on our own. But as Jesus goes on to say “with God all things are possible.”

Which gets us back to the central point of our theology, of the gospel message, the absolute sovereignty of God.



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