Today we talk a little about grace and mercy after establishing that it is God’s prerogative whether or not he shall extend mercy to anyone. He told us so quite plainly. Here’s the the interaction with God and Moses. It is a bit long, but it contains insight that we will come back to.
Exodus 33:12-19 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
Here we see both justification and sanctification, all in one snapshot. Neither happen without God’s direct intervention. We see reinforcement in this passage in Romans 9.
My question then is this. Is God violating his nature and his own word if he was gracious and merciful to whom he pleases and only whom he pleases? I think he is well within everything he has revealed, before and after his encounter with Moses. Remember, the only reliable source to study God is his written word. Our ‘feelings’ about God mean very little since they change with the wind. So, God made Israel a distinct people. I think those of us reading this can agree upon that.
Then I have another question. The bible is the most exhaustive, complete, and unaltered record of humankind ever written. Certainly, there is a track record of all peoples, from Adam and Eve, to the restart of the Great Flood, to the first century of Jesus. The bible talks a great deal about peoples and nations other than the Israelites. In all this recorded history, do we see one indication of God’s favor on ANY nation or person outside of Israel that did not benefit specifically from the blessings of Israel by God himself? Yes, we see Ruth and Rahab, and the Ethiopian eunuch, but they all were influenced by God’s chosen. Melchizedek comes to mind, but he “was a priest of God Most High” (Genesis 14:18). He somehow had already been tapped and was serving God. Everyone else worshipped other gods. Never was this acknowledged as “good.”
Think about this for awhile. Nowhere does the bible say of a foreign nation, ‘These, too, are holy.” Not one. Nor is there any one person that first didn’t have contact with and benefit through God’s chosen. Certainly, if the Moabs where righteous, we would have known. What we do know is that there isn’t one nation that God has said was righteous – besides Israel. Isn’t that interesting? Not a one.
Is this because the bible is ignorant of all the peoples of the earth? Hardly. The bible knows human nature better than any other source – and this is its decree: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We have no reason to believe that there is any other chosen. None.
Are we OK with that? Holy, righteous, and chosen are all under God’s prerogative and his alone. Is he discriminating against other people groups because he doesn’t find favor with them? If we think that, then we are thinking that there is some merit within those people as well as the ones he does choose. If they have merit, then God is certainly doing an injustice by punishing them. But, we have clearly established the utter sinful disposition of man – that there is no redeeming quality. To think so is to set aside one’s sin in favor of “good” deeds. Do we not agree that even our “good” deeds are filthy rags in the eyes of the Lord? Yes, we have because those deeds are done in rebellion as enemies. It should also be noted that God chose specific people within the nation of Israel. Even so, the nation was set aside as special.
One final angle. If God is gracious and merciful to one, does that obligate him to be so with all? Hardly. We may all want this, but that doesn’t obligate God to give anyone something that is not deserved.
To recap, we have no record of God granting grace and mercy to any others besides the Israelites and others who were blessed through them. There is no other people group, near or far, who God has called holy. None. Never. And that, my friends, is God’s business, not ours. Furthermore, this is good. Very good. We can fall on our faces in gratitude that God had named us children of Abraham through faith. Why did he do that? Who knows! But this fact is true – we have no reason to expect it for ourselves or for anyone else. In that, the bible is clear.
Father, we don’t have all the answers, but we do know that you are God and we are not. Who are we to question your integrity? Yes, you want us to understand you and you have revealed yourself through the bible. Please do not let us question your integrity. We don’t want to be proven fools. Amen.
Copyright © 2017 Scott Powers