Amos 3.1-2 and Romans 9.1-3,6 – Trembling at God’s word.
Posted: 22 June 2011 in Amos, Romans

“Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh….. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”

Israel is here told that being God’s chosen people does not make them immune to his wrath, and that, in fact, a failure to live up to their vocation would make them it’s especial recipients. But at first sight, there is a contradiction here. How can a people fail to be true to their vocation if God has specially chosen (and ordained) them for it? Can God’s purposes fail? Paul resolves the difficulty by saying that they sre not all Israel which are of Israel. In other words, God’s chosen ones cannot be identified with a political grouping.

Today God has a new chosen people, in those whom he has chosen in Christ. To extend Paul’s comment, and apply it to the present day, it could be said that they are not all chosen who are outwardly members of Christ’s visible body (the Church). That does not automatically mean that there are people in the Church whose profession of Christian faith is insincere, but it could mean that it is something of their own manufacture, and not something bestowed by the God – who alone can bring people to salvation.

The identity of those whom he has chosen is something known only to God, but prima facie evidence for it lies in obedience to his will. So we, like ancient Israel,  have reason to tremble at his every word. Back then God’s word was mediated to the populace through the prophets, but for us it is to be found in the pages of the Bible. It has been said that the Bible contains all things needful for salvation, and that is most definitely true, but it could, however, it also contains nothing superfluous or not needed.

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