Day 12: May 15, 2017: Chosen by God
Deuteronomy 10:14-16: Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.
God did not choose Abraham because of his impressive abilities, excellent resume, or dynamite prospects. James Kay writes,
“Think for a moment of Abraham and Sarah. When we first encounter them in the Book of Genesis, they strike us as rather unpromising. They are old, well past their prime, and death is near. What is more, they are childless. While they have possessions, they have no hope of posterity. They cannot generate new life.”
So why would the God who owns heaven and earth choose an unpromising, old, and childless couple for his work of setting things right in his creation? Why didn’t God choose a wealthy young prince or a powerful warrior? The first answer is that God chose Abraham and Sarah so that through them he could display his own power and glory. By giving Abraham a son when he was 100 years old and then eventually multiplying Abraham’s descendants into a “great nation” God showed his power to do what is humanly impossible. God chooses and works through “what is low and despised in the world” (1 Cor. 1:28) so that it is crystal clear that the work of redemption is God’s work and not man’s.
Second, God responds to faith. Psalm 33 says:
“The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love…” (Ps. 33:13-18)
As God observes humanity he is not impressed by the wealth and power of a king or by the strength and cunning of a warrior. Instead, he is looking for those who fear Him and hope in Him (v. 18). Abraham was not perfect, but he did trust God – so much so that he is the Bible’s model of obedient faith (Rom. 4; Heb. 11:8-12 and 17-19; James 2:18-26). Certainly then God chose Abraham because he knew that Abraham had a heart which would trust and obey Him.
The Israelites, Abraham’s descendants, did not always follow in their forefather’s footsteps of faith. Yet the God of heaven and earth chose them as his people because of his love and not because they deserved to be chosen. Earlier in Deuteronomy Moses told the people:
Deuteronomy 7:7-8: “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
What was true for Israel is also true for us as followers of Christ. God has set his love on us and chosen us (Eph. 1:3-10), but not because we have great abilities or righteousness that makes us deserve to be his people. Quite the contrary. We were dead in sin and all that we deserved was God’s wrath (Eph. 2:1-3). But because God is rich in mercy he chose to act through Jesus Christ to bring about our salvation.
We enter into salvation and become members of God’s chosen people when we hear the gospel and respond with obedient faith (Eph. 1:13-14). God is still looking for those who will trust Him. Abraham was able to become the forefather of Israel and the ancestor of Christ because he trusted God, and through him God did great things. All of the limitations Abraham and Sarah had – age, childlessness, and weakened bodies – were nullified by God’s great power working in response to their faith. So it can be with us. Christ has chosen us and appointed us to bear lasting fruit for his kingdom (John 15:16). The key to our ability to be used by God is not our strengths or weaknesses, our age, our education, our income, or our wealth. Rather, what matters is the condition of our hearts – that they would not be stubborn (Dt. 10:16) but rather full of faith like Abraham’s (Rom 4:16).
Take time now to thank God for graciously choosing you and to offer yourself in faith to God’s purposes. This prayer can help you get started: “Heavenly Father, it is absolutely amazing to me that you have set your love on me and chosen me. Help me, Lord, to have faith like Abraham’s. I know that you don’t need my strengths and that my weaknesses don’t weaken you. Take all my strengths and my weaknesses, and use me according to your will. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”