Lunes, Abril 2, 2012

His choice, Not ours Part 1

Whose service to God He will accept depends on...
His choice, Not ours
Whose service to God He will accept depends on...
His choice, Not ours
by Marlex C. Cantor

ARE YOU SURE that your services to God are truly acceptable to Him?  "And why not?" is probably what the majority would give as a defensive answer to such question. And it is not difficult to understand why.
Many think that they can freely choose what religious beliefs to adhere to or what church to affiliate themselves with, and still be deemed worthy before God, as long as they honestly serve and worship Him. They suppose that since all men are created by God, all belong to Him and equally enjoy all the privileges of being counted as His children, including the right to render valid worship to God.

Convenient as it may sound, such a popular contention, however, is proven false by the biblical truth that whether man's services to God would be accepted or rejected by Him ultimately depends on His choice, not man's. As what this study will prove, it has been God's policy since the beginning to elect or choose people to whom He gives the sale privilege of rendering true worship to Him.

His choice, to stand for all times
The Bible gives us proof that it is not because of what man does on his own that he shall find favor in God's sight. Rather, it is by virtue of God's election or choice. In Romans 9:11, it is stated:
"Before her children were born or had done good or evil, the choice of God was made known in advance; that it might stand, not by means of works, but through him who made the choice." (Lamsa Translation)
This verse speaks of Jacob and Esau, twin sons of the patriarch Isaac and Rebecca, According to Apostle Paul, it was Jacob who was given their father's firstborn blessing because it was God who made such choice even before they "were born or had done good or evil."
Thus, we see that it is the Sovereign Lord who elects or chooses those whom He counts worthy as His servants. Such policy of election was "made known in advance" for it is meant to stand or continue through all ages. Thus, although all men are created by God, not all belong to Him or are considered by God as His worthy servants. In Psalm 4:3, it is written:
"But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him," (New King James Version)
The people whom God acknowledges as His are the ones whom He "has set apart for Himself." It is they whose prayers God promises to hear, whose services He will accept. Clearly, then, not all men are God's servants simply because all are created by Him. For, if it were true that God accepts all services rendered to Him by man, then why would God have to elect or set apart a people for Himself?

People of His choice
That the election or the setting apart of people has truly been God's standing policy since the beginning can further be proved through a survey of biblical history. In this part of our study, we shall take a look at two of the first generations of God's elect, the people of His choice during the patriarchal age.
Seth's descendants, the first set of God's chosen.The history of God's chosen people can be traced back to the time of Seth, who was born of Eve when Adam was 130 years old (Gen. 5").

"Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, 'God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.' Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD." (Gen. 4:25-26, New International Version)
In those times, the human race had begun to multiply. But only the descendants of Seth were chosen by God to serve Him. They were known as the "sons and daughters of God" as opposed to the descendants of Cain, who were regarded as "sons and daughters of men."
However, the descendants of Seth failed to keep their distinction of being God's own people. They intermarried with the people from whom God had set them apart:
"When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and they married any of them they chose." (Gen. 6:1-2, Ibid.)
The unfaithfulness of God's first people greatly grieved the Lord. For God, it is such a grave sin for His chosen ones to marry people of the world that He decided to wipe them out, along with the rest of His creation, from the face of the earth:
"The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time ....

"So the LORD said, 'I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth-men and ani mals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air-for I am grieved that I have made them.'" (Gen. 6:5, 7, Ibid.)

The falling away of the first generation of God's people resulted in the destruction of no less than the entire ancient world. This shows how important God's election of His people is to Him who makes the choice.

Noah's descendants: The second, but not the last.As wickedness and corruption pervaded the first of God's people and the whole ancient world, one man found favor in God's sight-Noah, who was a "righteous man," "blameless among the people of his time," and "walked with God" (Gen. 6:8-9, Ibid.). 

     Before causing the great flood that would wipe out all people from the face of the earth, God commissioned Noah to build an ark, which was to be God's instrument in saving Noah and his family from the flood:
"But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD ....
"So God said to Noah, 'I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.''' (Gen. 6: 8,13-14, Ibid.)
God did not simply tell Noah to build an ark; He also gave him all the specifications of its construction (Gen. 6:14-16). Then, God instructed Noah to bring into the ark "two of all living creatures, male and female," and store food for these creatures and for his family (Gen. 6:19-21, Ibid.).

After Noah had done all that was commanded of him, God told him and his family to board the ark for them to be saved from the great flood (Gen. 7:1, 7, Ibid.).
        For 40 days, rain poured heavily on the surface of the earth, submerging everything in deep waters except Noah's ark. The flood lasted 150 days;
"All flesh died that moved on the earth:' and only Noah and those who were with him in the ark were saved (Gen. 7:21-24, NKJV).
God's saving Noah and his family from the deluge that ended the wickedness of ancient mankind not only marked the beginning of a new human race but also demonstrated that God's standing policy to elect people of His own had continued.
Noah's descendants picked up where the disloyal descendants of Seth left. They were the second generation of God's chosen people in the patriarchal age. Thus, after the great flood, God blessed Noah and his family and commanded them, "Be fruitful and increase in number, and fill the earth" (Gen. 9:1, NIV).God made a covenant with Noah, and from his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth sprung the new human race (Gen. 9: 8,18-19).

     However, as Seth's descendants before them failed to uphold their sacred calling, so did the descendants of Noah. Instead of obeying God's commandment to scatter all over the earth and replenish it, they chose to do the opposite. The book of Genesis narrates:     "At one time the whole world spoke a single language and used the same words. As the people mi­grated eastward, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began to talk about construction projects. 'Come,' they said, 'let's make great piles of burnt brick and collect natural asphalt to use as mortar. Let's build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies-a monument to our greatness! This will bring us together and keep us from scattering all over the world.''' (Gen. 11:1-4, New Living Translation)

Because Noah's descendants followed their own will instead of God's, their defiance brought Him great disappointment:

"But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 'Look!' he said. 'If they can accomplish this when they have just begun to take advantage of their common language and political unity, just think of what they will do later. Nothing will be impossible for them! Come, let's go down and give them different languages. Then they won't be able to understand each other:
"In that way, the LORD scattered them all over the earth; and that ended the building of the city." (Gen. 11:5-8, Ibid.)

As punishment for His people's disobedience, God confused their language. It was only when they did not understand one another that Noah's descendants finally went their separate ways and scattered all over the earth. It was also then that the history of the second generation of God's chosen people came to an end.

An undeniable truth
What we have discussed so far are but two of the many chapters in the long history of God's chosen people as presented in the Holy Scriptures. Nevertheless, what have been established up to this point of our study-that there had been an election or setting apart of God's people in the beginning and that only these people of His choice were counted worthy before His sight during those times-serve to magnify the truth we have pointed out earlier: service to God, though being variously done by many, is a privilege exclusively given by God to those whom He has chosen or set apart for Himself
It is in the light of this undeniable truth that one ought to examine whether his religion or faith truly matters to God, or not.
Did God continue to set apart people to be His own after Noah's descendants fell away? Who were the next generation of God's chosen people?
(To be continued in next month's issue)
(February 2005 | Vol.57 | No.2 | ISSN 0116-1636)