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The biblical notion of “election”—that God chooses a particular people—can be a tough pill to swallow in a modern, globalist society. Those who might not be very familiar with the Bible (and even those who are) sometimes object that the idea of election encourages the “exclusion” of others. However, while the God of Israel “chooses” (בחר; bahar) and “blesses” (ברך; barakh) a specific people (i.e., Israel), that God still blesses the non-elect in much the same way.

For instance, when the Lord chooses Abram (אברם; Avram) to be the “exalted father” (אב רם; av ram) of what would become the nation of Israel, God says, “I will make of you a great nation (גוי גדול; goy gadol)” (Gen 12:2). When Abram has two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, God chooses the latter child to carry on the lineage that would undergird the promise to the Israelite nation (see Gen 21:12). However, this does not mean that God dispenses with the unelected Ishmael.

Rather, the Lord blesses Ishmael in much the same way that God blesses Abram. After Sarah expels Ishmael and his mother Hagar to the wilderness, God rescues these two unelected people from certain death and makes promises to them that mirror the promises to the chosen seed. The angel of the Lord tells Hagar, “Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Rise! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation (גוי גדול; goy gadol)” (Gen 21:18). Thus, while Ishmael is not “elected” or “chosen” in the same way as Isaac, God’s election does not preclude similar blessings to the non-elect. Therefore, the Bible’s understanding of election does not carry with it the idea of “exclusion”; rather, while God can elect a special nation, the Lord still blesses and cares for those who are not a part of that chosen nation.

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52 COMMENTS

  1. There is election to life and election to death. God chooses full stop. Romans 11.
    An election of a president means the other is rejected.

    • Thats a bit of a stretch on the choice of example. A presidential election is not comparable to Gods election. The whole idea is for people regardless of race, color, creed, or nationsl origin, if you repent and come unto Jesus Christ you will be saved. That includes an Israelite or a Muslim, or any otber faith by the way. “There is no other name wherby man may be saved except the name of Jesus The Christ”

  2. First God told Abraham about Ismael’s Blessing . Then he told Hagar. The amazing part is that Ishmael was Blessed as First heritage born Son by starting First with 12 kids. Twelve is considered as a seed amount for a nation. The sum number on each side of the corner of a 7 X 7 Matrix grid, Kingdom or Nation. You see this pattern again in Grandson Jacob, the promised seed nation as second. Otherwise, Issac would have had twelve kids, also, to keep it balanced at the start.

  3. How about
    Jacob and Esaw, and the other son of Tamar who according to the attending midwife was the firstborn, and it seems that she was a credible witness; what happened to Zarah?

    • Adrian, Esau also became pretty well off. He prospered in wealth and numbers enough to make Jacob shiver in his boots. He also seems to have learned forgiveness, if you discount the whole breaking-his-teeth-on-Jacob’s-marble-neck thing.

  4. Shalom, rabbi, but did it ever say to go into the land, n make homless or refugees, n put the original inhabitants out of the land,.. That was for caananites centuries ago.. But u said is a modern world! So modern weapons?! Now the Sanhedrin said let his blood be on us, (curse), so on whom will todays bloodshedding be?! If we obey torah or bible.. It said touch not God’s annointed, both sides are annointed? Right? Plz help me, Shalom i did not post, ever, how can u say duplicate comment, this is how we behave? Chosen nation?

    • You need to read the Book of Genesis starting in chapter 12 and read all of the book and you will see clearly what Adonai is saying concerning His people Yisrael and how He told them to conquer Canaan and He Adonai promised the land to His people the Hebrews .

    • What you are not mentioning is that the Canaanites practiced human sacrifice, including their own infant children. They were thus deemed evil and worthy of death.

    • In all of this Genesis 15 is confusing me as to who it is relative to. The last time I checked Abram or Avram only had one son, period for the promise made to and for him.

      • Tadar, Abraham had 2 wives named in Genesis (Sarah and Keturah), and at least 8 children (8 sons are named).

        Moses’ (first?) wife was probably a distant relative, through the Kenite clan of Midian. One of Keturah’s sons is named Midian, and Jethro’s family seems to have known YHVH.

  5. Thank you that was very interesting & informative!! To learn how to pronounce the words & the beautiful way their letters are written!! Thank you, again!!!

  6. why the blessing of Ishmael-gen16:12 he will be a wild donkey of a man his hand against everyone and everyones hand against him and he will leave in hostility towards all his brothers… its presently evident in the middle east they is that centuries old conflict which has label the entire area a deadly zone, its true that- God control histroy to fulfil all the prophecies, demons influences corruption !!!.

  7. This Bible lesson clarification is so good that it opens the marvelous treasures embedded in the basic understanding of God’s doing.

  8. This is an understanding of “election” I can live with. Seems that God chose Israel to be a blessing to the rest of the world, not to condemn them. — Thank you

  9. From Genesis 12 we understand God’s election of Abraham to serve as father of a great nation who is elect for a very great purpose … to be a blessing to all nations. God’s blessing traced through the Old Covenant serves a purpose far greater than receiving favor or showing kindness to other nations. It’s precisely to serve God’s purpose of showing all nations God’s rich relationship with this one so that they would be drawn to this God in the same kind of relationship. This election is for God’s mission…where elect Israel fails, God’s chosen Son fulfills perfectly…for all!

  10. I have enjoyed reading all the comments. I am 76 years old this month, received Jesus Christ around March-April 1950 Have studied off and on for years.

  11. Thanks Dr for the information.

    We are approaching easter holidays. Please shed some light on Jesus’s seven words on the cross.

    Regards
    Radebe EN

  12. I also believe the term election has a specific purpose. Is there a teaching on Melchizedek the priest of El Elon and the king of Salem?

    • Hi Irene, we certainly can write some materials on Melchizedek. Are there aspects of Melchizedek that you’re particularly interested in? If so, I am happy to add an article to the site 🙂

  13. Where would somebody like me fit into this? Will I be one of those from every nation and race and people and tongue like the Bible says?

  14. On Melchezidek—— the Bible does not really get into him too much; but does credit him with great power , much more than Abraham had. Audio book – Sarah from Canaan Trilogy—- had fascinating interpolation by its author on this ancient king

    • There are lots of good resources to help with Bible study, Ruth. Are you looking for anything in particular? — e.g., are you studying a particular part of the Bible; are you interested in learning more about a specific biblical concept?

  15. Yes, it does mean exclusion. If I give my neighbor $100, and I give it to no one else, I have excluded everyone else but my neighbor from this act of grace. If you think there’s something wrong with that, you don’t understand Grace.

    • Yes, but the Grace of God Is His offer of eternal life through Messiah, and it is an offer to whosoever will receive it. But then God has always been willing to include Gentiles other than Abram, who of course was a Gentile himself until God called him.

  16. The English words elect or election always implies a vote taking place. In the cases of Isaac and Ishmael there was no vote. God chose Isaac to do one thing, and then gave Ismael virtually the same thing to Ishmael. Both were sovereign acts of the Father, no votes involved

  17. Dr Nicholas, Israel bears a bigger burden than all the nations, being chosen puts a bigger tag on them, more responsibility. Everything hinges on their obedience, they are first to get a ‘rap over the knuckles’ because they are closest to God by heart. No nation prays like Israel

  18. Anyone who can understand will agree that Israel is indeed highly favoured and abundantly blessed. They are indeed chosen. God bless.

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