Numbers 32.21 – God’s Choice of Israel
Posted: 28 January 2013 in Numbers

And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the Lord to war, And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the Lord, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, And the land be subdued before the Lord: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the Lord, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the Lord. But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.

The context of the above passage is that the Israelites have arrived on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, prior to the invasion of Canaan, and some of the tribes had asked for the land just conqered to be allocated to them. Moses remonstrated with them, saying they were renegades who were refusing to join their brethren in the invasion of Canaan. They replied that they would take part in the invasion, but they still thought that the land east of Jordan was ideally suited to them. The above verses are Moses’ reply.

In the above passage those whom Israel had been commanded to annihilate (there is no other word for it) are described explicitly as being God’s enemies. The early chapters of Genesis spare no pains in describing the extent of mankind’s rebellion against God’s rule over them. And yet out of the fallen mass of humanity, and even though they were as immersed in sin as anybody else, a people were chosen by God to be the agents through which he would bring to himself those whom were called to salvation. There is clearly a temptation here for people to accuse the ancient Israelites of pride. Who were they to imagine themselves to be specially chosen by God for anything? But the real pride would be seen in the resentfulness displayed towards a group God had chosen, and of which neither they nor their ancestors were a member.

There is no answer to the question why God should have chosen Israel; the Bible just records Israel’s election to be a fact. I do not think there is anything to be gained from enquiring after things which God has not seen fit to reveal. We will just come up with an answer of our own invention, and if pride or resentfulness towards God is any part of the motive, sin will be involved. The circular argument Moses uses in Deuteronomy 7.6-8 only serves to underline God’s complete freedon in choosing whom he will, and it is most likely not meant to do no more than that. Also from Deuteronomy:

“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29.29)

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