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hos 11.2In Deuteronomy 7:7-8 we read, “7 The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; 8 but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

So people ask, “Why did God chose Israel?” Was it because they were a great and powerful nation? No. In fact, God began with one man and his wife, and they were old and barren. God did not call them because of the number or population of the nation. When He called and chose them they were only 2. And God says there that they were the least of all peoples. Small and unimpressive. But God loved them.

God had chosen them to be His people and He loved them, so He brought them up out of the land of Egypt. He delivered them from bondage and slavery.  He loved them with a covenant love. He had a purpose for them. The Promised Land would eventually give birth to the Promised Son, the Savior.

As we read these stories in the Old Testament, especially in the Book of Exodus that we just finished reading for our Old Testament Scripture Readings, the people groaned under Pharaoh, they cried out God, He heard their cry and raised up Moses to deliver them. And we see the lesson repeated throughout Scripture and history – the lesson that unless God comes after us, pursues us, rescues us…unless God saves us, we would never come to Him. We confess that the song is true, we can only love Him because He first loved us!

Why does God chose to love who He chooses to love? That is not the right question, for the truth is He is God and He will do as He pleases. Amen? The right question is to ask, while looking at the sinful and sordid history of mankind, the question is, why does He love any of us? That is the wonder of election, not that He has chosen some, but that He has chosen any!

Here is what God is telling Israel here. He is telling them that they have been unfaithful and He has told them how He is going to judge them, but in the midst of all of that He says with purpose and promise, “I love you! I have chosen you!” God has decided to love them.

What we understand through the course of this chapter then is that because God has decided to love His people, when He does chasten and discipline them, it is not because this pleases Him, but because this is in harmony with His character. God does not punish to enjoy it and in fact anyone who does enjoy punishing others is a sadist. Not everything we have to do is pleasant. Boy is there a life lesson there in that phrase.

Looking then at God’s choice, we see in Romans 9:10-18, “10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

Our struggle so often with these verses, especially when we hear that God hates, the trouble is founded upon the false notion that love and hate are emotional terms and explain how we fell about someone. These terms are not emotional. They are relational. They explain how God choses to relate to people. He chose to love Jacob and to hate Esau when it came to determining who would receive the covenant promises and who would not. Jacob would be loved, Esau hated, and keep in mind the word hate simply means to count one as your enemy. So God would treat Jacob as His child and Esau as His enemy.

Jacob has been chosen to bring about the birth of the Messiah. Esau has not so been chosen. The relationship is not based on them, who they were, what they would do, what their potential might be. You see the choice was not about them, it was about God. Election does not exalt the one chosen, it exalts the One choosing. The relationship is a matter of God doing what He wants to do in order to accomplish His purposes.

Further we see here the good news about God’s mercy. Some say that it should not be up to God to choose and that in choosing there is somehow an evil intent in God’s will. But honestly, if someone is going to choose to show mercy who knows better than God how and to whom to show mercy? We dare not accuse God of unrighteousness. We cannot say that God is not fair. Too many people live with the thought that they want God to give them what they have coming to them! Wow! What they mean of course is that they want God to give them what they THINK they deserve. Trouble is, they don’t know what they deserve, and unless they repent and believe what they deserve is what they are going to get, suffering the wrath of God for eternity.

We cannot be shocked that God has exercised His sovereign will to choose to show mercy. He is God. We are not. “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou my God shouldst die for me?”

God here is pleading with His people as they are facing judgment and all the while running headlong further and further into sin and unfaithfulness. God reminds them that He has chosen them to love them. They are not just His people. They are His children. Isaiah 12:1 says, “And in that day you will say: ‘O Lord, I will praise You; though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.’” And Isaiah 40:1-2 tells us, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” says your God. 2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 49:13 says, “Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted.

Jeremiah says it this way in chapter 31:10-14, “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,

and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ 11 For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. 12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord—for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all. 13 “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together; for I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. 14 I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”

We are often dissatisfied with living in a fallen world and dealing with our sin. We are dissatisfied with circumstances, but what are we supposed to be satisfied with? “Be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”
God is showing us in these Scriptures how it is that He will comfort His children. In the midst of the unfolding judgments coming upon Israel God stops and reminds them that He is the God of all comfort and that He loves them! It is His love that requires discipline!

And it doesn’t take long to see why the chastening is necessary. Verse 2 says, “As they called them, so they went from them; they sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images.” He says here the more I called you the faster you ran away. The more the prophets call, the more the Lord implores, that much quicker the people dive into sin and iniquity. But we see here that even while they are not coming back, even though they will not return and repent, God’s love for them as His people remains unchanged.

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