About two months ago, a woman at my church in the Bible class I was teaching at the time came to me and asked me a question which was deeply profound and one I could not immediately answer completely. It really caught me off guard, not because of who asked it but because I just didn’t expect such a question at all. I was stumped. I knew I needed help to get it right, so help I sought. I fired off several of e-mails to some Jewish people who would know the answer: two Messianic Rabbis and one Orthodox Rabbi. I didn’t actually know the Orthodox Rabbi, but rather just surfed the web and found an Orthodox Synagogue here in Dallas and then sent him an e-mail. I was disappointed to not get a reply, but that’s okay, I expected that. The two Messianic Rabbis did respond, and I got some great answers from them as well as some very wise people in their congregations.
The question was basically this: “Why did God choose just one people to be His people? Why did God only give Torah to one nation, why not all the nations?” This question perplexed me for a long time while I waited for the responses from the Rabbis, and it certainly had me thinking about it all through church that morning. It follows similar logic like “Why did God let that man die of cancer, even though he’s a good Christian while that pagan man recovered from cancer?” To questions like this, you usually have to answer something like “God does what He does, and it is not for us to question,” or “I don’t know, ask Him when you get to Heaven.” Answers like that, let’s be honest, stink. I’ve never been satisfied with answers like that, and you probably aren’t either. Something inside me told me that there was more and I was delighted to find it out. Read on for the answers I found.
The first response I got was from Rabbi Roi from the Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue in San Antonio. Here were his words:
G-d choose Israel for the following reasons:1. To be an example for the nations. G-d deals with the nations. He wanted the nations to see what will happen to a nation when they serve or reject G-d, Blessings or captivity.2. To Receive the Scriptures. The prophets of the Scriptures, Old and New Testament were Jewish.3. To Preserve the Scriptures. It was the nation of Israel that preserved the Scriptures and held it in high esteem. It was not until the past few hundred years that the Gentiles became part of the preservations.4. To have a linage of the Messiah. There must be a lineage trail of the Messiah. That is why the New Testament begins the writings with the Genealogy.5. To show the prophetic fulfillment of Scriptures in a nation.
If you’re familiar with the Rabbinic method of PaRDeS, then this would be that first method, Pshat or “simple.” Even though it is a “simple” answer and after reading it I felt like I already knew everything he said, it was still more than I was able to articulate on that Sunday morning when I was asked. Not only that, but the simple understanding to a question is always needed before any deeper understandings can be made clear, so this response was good and necessary. But I wanted more.
The next response I got was from a member at the Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue here in Dallas. I told him about the reply I had already gotten from Rabbi Roi, and he replied that there was indeed more beyond the simple answer:
G-d’s giving of the Torah to our fathers was indeed functional.
Beyond that, I think it is helpful to remember that the one “nation” he chose is really one family (the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). In other words, his sovereign choice was based on His relationship with one man (Abraham). Moses tells us, “Only ADONAI took enough pleasure in your ancestors to love them and choose their descendants after them -yourselves -above all peoples, as he still does today.” (Deuteronomy 10:15, CJB)
G-d chose one family for the Patriarchs’ sake in honor of Abraham, whom He called His friend. Ultimately, Abraham’s trust is what was credited to his account as righteousness. In response to Abrahams obedient trust, G-d said, “I have sworn by myself – says ADONAI- that because you have done this, because you haven’t withheld your son, your only son, I will most certainly bless you; and I will most certainly increase your descendants to as many as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the cities of their enemies, and by your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed – because you obeyed my order.” (Genesis 22:16-18, CJB)
This is like the PaRDeS method of Remez where the choosing of Israel was because of God’s relationship with one man who did not withhold his only son and this hinted at the giving of the Messiah as God’s only Son. Beautiful. However, I still felt like this was not the answer I was seeking, as though there was more.
The next response I got was from Sheryl, the congregational secretary at Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue here in Dallas.
One thing that I think would be helpful is to look at the “call”, and “choseness”, of the Jewish people. The call on the Jewish people was to be a light unto the Nations. Israel is right smack dab in the middle of the ancient trade routes so that all those who came across would actually have to interact with them, and see the difference between the true and living G-d, and the gods of the pagans.
This is like the PaRDeS method of Drash: Sheryl took the story about God placing them in the promised land, and extracted out of it meaning not only for them but for us living thousands of years later. God placed them there to be a light to the world, just like we should be in our society today. Okay, so God chose Israel to show the world the difference between the false gods and the True God. But that doesn’t answer why he chose them and not somebody else.
After I had recieved all of these responses, I still did not feel like I had discovered the final answer. Oh, these answers are great answers and, again, more than I could come up with that Sunday morning when I was asked. But I still felt like there was…more. Then I got one more answer from Joseph Zavala, the Messianic Teacher at the Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue in San Antonio. His answer hit everything the others had, but so much more. According to the PaRDeS method, his is most definitely the Sod:
You ask a very good question. Actually G-D chose 1 person in the early days as well. He didnt change things til the Tower of Babel. He originally wanted 1 people, 1 nation. But He also knew that wouldnt be the case. As you can see in Exodus the 1 nation, Israel, was set apart to be a light to the nations. In Exodus 15:27, the 12 wells and the 70 palms: the 12 wells represents the 12 tribes of Israel, and the 70 palms represents the nations of the world. The wells water the palms. And in Numbers 29 starting with verse 13 the numbers of the sacrifices equals 70 so Israel was interceeding on behalf of the nations to G-d. Now you can ask this question, who came first the Gentiles or the Hebrew people? The Gentiles/Goyim/Nations came first. G-d called Abraham who was obedient to the calling of G-d, just as he is a picture of 1) the Messiah 2) the believer and how one should live. G-d used many nations to His purpose to bring mankind to His righteousness. To those who are called, to those much is required. Why punish someone when that one doesnt know the rules. As Yeshua said to the Pharisees the same thing in regards to their able to see, but they still sin, and if they truly did see then they wouldn’t sin. I would say G-d chose 1 nation (from a man’s viewpoint) as a second choice, just like He wanted all of Israel to come up to the Mountain and Israel didnt go because they were afraid. He wants all of us to come up to Him, and always has.
That was the answer I was looking for. It blew me away.
Peace to you,