Posted by: chuckbumgardner | July 5, 2009

The Responsibility of Election

I enjoyed Charles Scobie’s comments on the “higher standard of judgment” which comes from being part of the elect people of God:

Being God’s chosen people does not mean that he will judge them less severely. On the contrary, since God’s will has been more clearly revealed to them and they have been chosen to serve God in a special way, their failures will bring greater condemnation.  The prototypical rebellion of Israel against God through the worship of the golden calf (Exod 32) resulted in the slaughter of three thousand of the people (v. 28) and in the sending of a plague (v. 35).  In Num 21 the Israelite’s rebellious complaints resulted in an attack by poisonous serpents as a result of which many died (v. 6).

Israel is not spared divine judgment because they are God’s people; indeed, it is precisely because they are the covenant community that God disciplines them. This pattern continues throughout the OT: as already noted, God’s dealings with his people constitute not only a history of salvation (Heilsgeschichte) but also a history of judgment.  Election and covenant are the basic presuppositions of the prophets’ messages of judgment.  Nowhere is this more forcefully put than in Amos 3:2, where God says to Israel:

You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.

“The Election is the often unexpressed but always evident basis of every prophecy of judgment; it heightens the claim on Israel, and results in a correspondingly harder punishment” (quote from G. A. Dannell, “The Idea of God’s People in the Bible,” in The Root of the Vine: Essays in Biblical Theology, ed. A. Fridrichsen New York: Philosophical Library, 1953], 31)

Charles H. H. Scobie, The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology (Eerdmans, 2003), 472-73.


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