I promised some posts on election, so here is the first. FYI–I have already written most of what I plan to post on election. I have kept them short and sweet with the Christian lay-person in mind. I am just trying to read the text for what it says and simply help readers make some important connections. Feel free to ask questions and/or leave comments, I will do my best to answer them as time allows.
Matthew 11:25-27 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (c.f. Luke 10:21-24).
God chose whom he chose because “such was [his] gracious will.” Further, no one knows the Father except those whom the Son chooses to reveal Him to. Just as the Father chooses to reveal Christ, so the Son chooses to reveal the Father to whom He wills. Those who come to know God through Christ do so on the basis of the sovereign choice of the Father and Son. There is no mention of God choosing on the basis of foreseen faith.
Inevitably, this question arises–why did God choose whom he chose? Ultimately I don’t know the answer to that question, in the end all I can say is “such was God’s gracious will.” All I know is that God is gracious to choose anyone. It is God’s gracious will to reveal himself to sinners savingly through Christ. God is gracious!
Jesus seems to understand God to have willed to hide things from some and reveal them to others. This was “God gracious will.” You see something similar in Deuteronomy 7:
Deuteronomy 7:6-8 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Verse 7 says, “it was not because you were many in number that the Lord set his love on you and chose you.” God setting his love on Israel is directly connected to his choosing them. Further God gives the reason why he chose them-he chose them because he loves them (v. 8). There is no mention of foreseen faith, God simply chooses Israel to be his treasured possession. The decision to choose here seems to reside solely in God–He wasn’t looking out on the nations to see which loved Him the most–He simply determined in His perfect wisdom to set his covenant love on Israel. The Old Testament, however, is not only concerned with the national/corporate election of Israel, but also with the specific election of individuals within Israel.
Jacob is a prime example of such individual election. This is seen in Jacob, rather than Esau being chosen of God to the one with whom God would carry on His covenant:
Genesis 25:23 And the LORD said to her [Rebekah], “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
Malachi 1:1 The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. 2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob 3 but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” 4 If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever.'” 5 Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, “Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!” (c.f. Romans 9:13-15).
It is often argued that this choosing of Jacob over Esau was a corporate choosing of Israel that has nothing to do with salvific choosing. This however does not make sense of Romans 9:13-15 or Malachi. Malachi reminds his readers of God’s election of Jacob to encourage them to repent from their vain sacrifices and worship and to truly turn to God with their hearts. This is further evidence that the results of our preaching are in God’s hands–this ought to encourage God’s people to be fervent in preaching the gospel to the lost. In Romans 9:13-15 the story of God choosing Jacob is evidence that God is free to have mercy on whom he wills. A simple straightforward reading of these texts indicates that God chose a lying cheat like Jacob for no other reason than it was his will. God saves sinners because it pleases Him to do so (Galatians 1:15-16).