CHOSEN: The Incomparable Privilege

 

CHOSEN

The Incomparable Privilege

 

By McCandlish Phillips

In a review of a book about the Jews a critic pointed asked: “What of Jews who do not choose to be chosen?”

That is a question of the foremost importance. Since it is God who has chosen the Jews, the Jew who chooses not to be chosen has an argument with God.

Such an individual denies or opposes the wisdom of God. In so doing he incurs certain consequences upon himself – and, moreover, he injures the entire human society to a degree that he does not suspect.

Rejecting the Claim of God

It is possible to every man to reject the claim of God upon his life and person – possible to both Jew and Gentile. But there is a substantial difference between the two.

It is natural for Gentiles to live in ignorance of God – unless they have been enlightened about Him through the Jewish Scriptures and have decided that He, the God of Israel, will be their God.

Most Gentiles, however, recognize no true claim of God upon their lives. They live as natural men, trusting in natural and earthly things and ignoring God.

Yet some Gentiles repose a distinct and hearty trust in the God of Israel. Having been awakened to a knowledge of Him by the Jewish Scriptures, they know the God of Israel, and they possess and enjoy a living relationship to Him.

There are, at least, several million Gentiles in the world who have come to know the God of Israel for themselves through the compelling truths of the Scriptures. And they know that the wonderful gift they have has come to them through the Jews.

Even though the New Testament clearly states the immutable fact that “salvation is of the Jews.” Jesus declared this fact to a Samaritan – a Gentile – woman. His words are found in John 4:22: “Salvation is of the Jews.”

The alternative to salvation is damnation. The Scriptures are clear on this as well.

“The soul that sins, it shall die,” the Old Testament says in Ezekiel 18:4 and 20. “The wages of sin is death,” the New Testament warns in Romans 6:23. Sin and the practice of sin leads inescapably down to death and to hell. “The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and the nations that forget God,” Psalm 9:17 declares.

If at no time in his life a person – Jew or Gentile – turns to the God of Israel and becomes a worshiper of Him, finding forgiveness and cleansing from his sins, his soul has its destiny in hell. A sinful soul will not be taken into heaven.

A Light to the Nations

It is no novelty that Gentiles are able to obtain the salvation that is of the Jews. God has always intended it to be so. In His first words to Abraham, God said: “By you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). The sweep of that phrase, “all families,” takes in all the Gentile peoples.

The relationship is fixed. Salvation is always of the Jews – it is never of the Gentiles. But salvation is never only for the Jews. It is for everyone through the Jews. All the families of the earth are free to obtain the blessing of God promised through Abraham the Jew.

The God of Israel is the God of all the earth; there is no other God. For a Gentile to bypass the promises and commandments of the God of Israel is a fateful choice. Yet for him it is to continue in his natural course – unenlightened by the living words of the Jewish Scriptures and therefore unawakened. Such a Gentile is born in sin, lives in sin, dies in sin and goes to hell in sin.

That is one thing. The Gentile is given full opportunity to belong to God, if he will. But the Gentile is not initially called to belong to God.

For a Jew to ignore or reject the God of Israel is not the same thing. A Jew who “chooses not to be chosen” does not do so by merely continuing in sin. He does so by turning his back on what it means to be a Jew. He willfully rejects the role for which he was made a Jew by God.

He knows that he is a Jew by birth. But he rejects the element in that distinctive birth that is of God – the supremely important fact that, because he is a Jew, he is chosen to belong to God. As Moses told the people again and again, a Jew is called to serve God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. It is his crowning privilege to have the living God so revealed in his life as to make Him known to many others.

Pause for just a moment and think of that. If you are a Jew, how much of all your strength has been invested in loving God? You probably sense that you cannot do that on your own. You need a divine operation. That is why Moses said, “The Lord your God will circumcise your heart, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6).

There is no drudgery, no mere performing of duty, in love. The circumcised heart loves with a joyous, powerful abandon.

If an individual does not want this element of Jewishness – and most Jews do not – he does not want to be a Jew in the original, pure and intended meaning of the word: that is, to belong to God, to be one of His people. He chooses not to be chosen.

This does not mean he casts off his Jewish identity in other respects – racial or cultural or even in regard to religious tradition. It does mean, however, that he rejects his Jewish identity at the heart and core, at precisely the point intended by God in making him a Jew. Everything else is merely an aspect of Jewishness – a collateral facet of Jewish origin. It is not the thing itself.

What Makes a Jew?

The making of a Jew requires the union of two wills: the will of God and the will of the individual. What makes a person a Jew, first, is that God chooses him to belong to Him and to love Him above all else. What makes him a Jew, second, is that he actively chooses to belong to God and to be His love-servant on the earth.

Join God’s intention in setting apart for Himself the Jewish people with the willingness of any individual Jew to have it be so, and you have a Jew who is a Jew in the sense of God’s calling Abraham to be a Jew.

Abraham was called and chosen by God, and he responded to that call with a hearty willingness to be a Jew. It is crucial to realize that Abraham did not start out as a Jew. He started out as a Gentile. He became a Jew by obeying the call of God.

It is a fine thing for a person to be called by his boss to carry out some important mission. It would be a great honor to be called by the President to do some special work. It is an incomparably greater honor to be called by God to belong to Him.

Abram (he was later named Abraham) grasped that. He did not say no to God. He showed himself willing to cast aside everything – home, livelihood, background, tradition – so that he could freely pursue the will of God. Out of his faith-journey, a land, nation and people called Israel came forth.

He could have chosen not to be a Jew and instead to remain a Gentile. He could have said that God was asking too much. Abraham could have chosen not to be chosen. Instead he rose and walked in God’s calling. And since, for the Jew, it is his Creator who calls him, the only thing for any Jew to do is to choose to be chosen.

The Consequences of Refusal

According to the Scriptures, a Jew who refuses to be chosen defies God and exercises and evil heart and an evil will against His purpose for Jews. He refuses to cooperate with his Maker in the end for which he was born. Beyond that, he ultimately brings upon himself a curse.

Moses said that. Moses warned the people in plain terms with the utmost solemnity and urgency: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: A blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and a curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

“Other gods” refers not only to the false deities of the non-Biblical religions. It refers also to anything that claims an allegiance ahead of God in a person’s life. Wealth, self, achievement and renown can be other gods.

A blessing is the active favor of God toward an individual or a nation. A curse is the opposite of a blessing; it is the active disfavor of God toward a person or a people. God is never merely static in His relationship with His creation.

Are you a Jew? Do you have any regard for this man Moses, the leader and deliverer of your people? Then hear him. Do not cast his words out of your heart or mind. Do not think that it will not be with you exactly as Moses said.

Moses declared to the people:

“All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, IF you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground…. The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you…. The Lord will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep his commandments and walk in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of you…and you shall lend to many nations but you shall not borrow…and you shall tend upward only, and not downward, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God…then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field…. The Lord will send upon you curses, confusion, and frustration, in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly, on account of the evil of your doings, because you have forsaken me.

“…The Lord will smite you…. The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies…and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways, and you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually” (Deuteronomy 28:2-29).

The Witness of History

Anyone who has an acquaintance with Jewish history can see how exactly these words of Moses have proved true. In times when it has appeared not to be so – when it has seemed that Jews have prospered and enjoyed liberty without serving their God above all else – the curse has rushed upon them in full measure, as Moses said it would.

For the Jews, God promises a blessing above that received by all the peoples of the earth (for their sake, but for the sake of all other peoples as well, as the words of Deuteronomy 4:1-6 so beautifully state it). God has made this conditional upon loving obedience to Him, and, finally, the Jews must make the choice between the blessing or the curse.

Therefore listen to Moses and hear what he says. Believe his words and obey them: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and serve the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul. To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statues, which I command you this day for your good” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).

That, and that alone, is what it really means to be a Jew. If you do not want to be a Jew in that sense, then you do not want to be a Jew. For this is what God intended in causing you to be born a Jew – nothing less, and nothing else.

If you persist in your quarrel – advising God that He was wrong in calling apart the Jews as a people for His own possession, or telling Him that you personally want out of it – then you push away the blessing and open yourself to the curse announced by Moses. You have not wanted to be a Jew, except in certain secondary respects.

You can never escape the fact of your birth as a Jew. You cannot change it. Having been born a Jew, you are under a direct commission from God to fulfill the role of a Jew, and that is to choose to be chosen. It is to love God, to walk in His ways, to serve Him with all your heart. If, born to be a Jew, you do not do so, then you are one of those Jews of whom Moses spoke, who have “turned aside out of the way.”

More hangs on your refusal to be a Jew than just your own destiny. As a river-city can be threatened by floods, so society or the world can be inundated by evils. If you were appointed the watchman of the dikes, and floodwaters came, you could refuse to carry out your assignment and occupy yourself with something else. When the floods came you would drown along with everyone else; but others would have died by your dereliction.

The Jews’ refusal to be the Jews as God intended has cost the world more than can be reckoned. It has cost the world a demonstration of the power and the love of God upon His chosen people – and that loss has left many others in darkness who could have known the light of God, their salvation, through them.

Great but Wasted Influence

In choosing the Jews to be His spokesmen and prophets to mankind, God wrote into their nature a certain gauge that makes them influential. Wherever they are, the Jews have an influence upon the culture of a society – and in many of the vital sectors of its life – out of proportion to their numbers.

In the United States, Jews are influential and powerful in music and letters, publishing and the news media, finance, education, medicine, merchandising, manufacturing, motion pictures and many other public sectors, much to the good. Yet they have not exercised their influence on behalf of that for which it is primarily intended – to make the love and power of the God of Israel known to the world.

Some Jews (they are not many in number, but are large in their influence and impact upon human affairs) have, in their refusal to belong to god, introduced evil into human affairs on a scale to match that of the blessings they could have brought had they been obedient to God. Out of his brilliance and bitterness, the writer, Karl Marx, for example, helped to usher in decades of deception, darkness, deprivation and death upon millions of his fellowmen.

Even those Jews who have devoted themselves to good works, yet have refused to belong wholly to God, have deprived the world of the best good they might have done for it. For those good works, as magnificent as many of them are, are not the answer.

It is a high and wonderful calling to be born a Jew and to be chosen to serve God on the earth. If you do not eagerly cooperate with that – if you choose to serve some lesser god than God, or some lesser cause, however good – you will be held accountable before God for your own refusal to be a Jew. By that choice, you will deny to other men in their lifetimes the highest good that can ever come to them – the knowledge of God.

Taking the Commission

To refuse to be a Jew is no less than to receive a commission from God and then to tear it up and throw it aside as a thing of no value.

If you are a Jew, you need to see how altogether desirable and pleasant it is to be a Jew in the sense that God intended you to be. You also need to see how wearying and treacherous and precarious it is for you to decide that, if being a Jew requires you to love and serve God with all your heart, then you choose not to be a Jew.

You need to see that the blessing of being a Jew is infinitely more desirable and good than the curse of being a Jew who has “turned aside out of the way.” The blessing is the active favor of God upon you – upon your purposes, upon your life. The blessing leads on to eternal life, the cursing to eternal hell, as the prophet Daniel was shown (see Daniel 12:1-3).

If you are building the tent or palace of your life – even if you are building up an empire on the earth – apart from God’s design – it will all be smashed from you at the end. The curse of Moses will descend upon it finally, and you will be found to have built up what you were not meant to build up, and to have failed to build what you were born to build.

Do You Object to What God Requires of You?

Thousands of young Jews today are giving themselves to various causes – political and humanitarian and social causes of sundry kinds. Yet if as few as ten young Jews of high school or college age were to decide now to serve no lesser cause but God; if they would act on that decision just as wholeheartedly as they do in joining up with causes; if they would ask Him to lead them step-by-step and make them a blessing, in just ten years it would make a difference in American society. God would use them, as He wants to do – not merely as doers of good works, but as prophets and messengers of truth to the people.

We need young Jews today with all the fervor and ardency for God of the poet-soldier-prophet David.
To balk at God’s summons is to be a piece of clay arguing with the potter over why He has made you what you are. It is futile to argue that you do not want to be used for the purpose of His original design.

“Nay but, O man, who are you who replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, Why have you made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, to make of the same lump one vessel for honor, and another for dishonor?” (Romans 9:20-21).

It is wise to remember that no man has ever won an argument with God. If your Creator wants to make you, a Jew, a pitcher with which to pour out living waters to the thirsty, why would you not be willing to be used by Him in that way?

The blessings that God has promised to send upon Jews who obey His voice are spiritual and material, individual as well as corporate. His intention in calling you to obey Him and to receive His blessing is that the world might see, merely by looking at you, that it is good to serve the God of Israel.

Instead, over too long a time, the people have given the world a sadly different kind of demonstration – one that God did not want them to give. They have shown to the world that which cannot help the world – a spectacle of a people, called to be blessed and to be a blessing, who by turning aside out of the way have made their history perilous. They have removed themselves from the covenant blessing pronounced by Moses and have labored under the cure pronounced by him. Their central heritage is to show the world what it is to be chosen and blessed by God. Doing otherwise is so great a failure to fulfill the mission to which they are called that the world now reels and suffers for want of it.

Born to Be a King

A man may be born of the royal line, born to be a king, but if he refuses to take the crown and the scepter he will not become a king, though he was born to it. He will be only a man who should have been a king but who has devoted himself to some diminished purpose.

It is the greatness of a man to rise to the highest calling that comes to him in life and fill it. God, the Creator of the universe, has made no mistake in ordaining and calling a people called the Jews to belong to Him, to be His messengers and light-givers to the world.

You will make no mistake in answering that call as it is, out to the full scope of God’s intention.

Isaiah’s Golden Key

Anyone, Jew or Gentile, who reads the words of the great prophet Isaiah found in Isaiah 52:13-15 and in all of chapter 53, and who does so carefully, prayerfully and searchingly – asking God in heaven to grant insight and clear understanding – will find a golden key that opens the way to a direct and personal knowledge of God.

 
The foregoing is taken from The Bible, the Supernatural and the Jews by McCandlish Phillips. It is slightly abridged and is reprinted here by permission of the author.