Posted by: Nito | April 22, 2012

The Role of the Chosen People – Part 2 (The Kingdom Factory)

Even though God’s attempt to establish monotheism in ancient Egypt didn’t succeed (as described in part 1), this wasn’t crucial for the success of the overall project, which was to remove all polytheistic religions from the face of the Earth. God still achieved this, even though it took much longer time than He probably envisaged at first; and with a different outcome to what was originally planned. We can find many references in the Old Testament where God refers to his chosen people as ‘stiffnecked’, ‘stiffhearted’ and ‘rebellious’, clearly showing His disappointment with their commitment to the project and the pace of its implementation.

However, what God set out to achieve through Abraham and his descendants He did achieve. If you look at the religious landscape of the world today, you will notice that Abrahamic religions (namely JudaismChristianity and Islam, even though Islam cannot claim God’s promises that He gave to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) cover the most of it (see the image below). The rest of the world practices Dharmic or Eastern religions (where major religions are Hinduism and Buddhism), and these are also essentially  monotheistic. In regards to Hinduism, all great Hindu religious leaders have repeatedly stressed that God is one and his forms are many (see details here), while Buddhism doesn’t focus on the Creator-God but on the impersonal aspect of God as Spirit (the Universal Substance), which is the source of everything.

Distribution of Abrahamic (pink) and Dharmic (orange/yellow) religions (source: Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, the religious landscape today would be probably very different, if the project called “the chosen people” have succeeded in the fullness of its original scope. God had promised Abraham to give him the land from the river of Egypt to the river of Euphrates, hence it is interesting to note that every great empire that rose in the ancient near East did include this area in its borders.

If Hebrews did execute their part of the covenant it’s questionable if any of these ancient empires would have developed in such an extent as they did. The height of Israel occurred before Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. If everything went according to God’s plan Israel wouldn’t decline after Solomon, but keep on prospering and influencing other nations to abandon paganism and embrace One True God.

Solomon inherited a great empire from his father David: “Under King David, Israel grew from Kingdom to Empire, and its sphere of influence – militarily and politically – in the Middle East expanded greatly, controlling a number of weaker client states like Philistia, Moab, Edom, Ammon, with a number of Aramaean city-states (Aram-Zobah and Aram-Damascus) becoming vassal states; the imperial border stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Desert, from the Red Sea to the Euphrates River. According to the biblical account, the empire had a large land area” (from Wikipedia).

So if this empire continued to thrive, it’s doubtful that Neo-Assyrian Empire and Neo-Babylonian Empire would develop in the extent they had, and we could also hypothesize about the kind of influence the Kingdom of Israel would have on ancient Persia (i.e. Achaemenid Empire) , Greece (considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of Western culture) and Rome. The history of the western civilization as we know it would be probably very different!

The question is now what has made God to apparently abandon this project? The Kingdom of Israel is long gone; the cultures and empires it was to influence and transform came and did flourish for a while, but are now also gone. Is it possible that God’s project called “the chosen people” has failed? Could it be that any of His projects would fail? Obviously, by definition, Almighty cannot fail in any of His endeavors; God is faithful and doesn’t do things halfheartedly. Whatever He decides to do will be done, so if something doesn’t look like a finished project, it’s because He moved on to an alternative execution plan.

As noted at the beginning of this article, the aim of the project was to remove all polytheistic religions from the face of the Earth, and this was achieved. But the removal of polytheism from the position of the official religion in countries around the world was achieved through the spread of Christianity and Islam, and not through the spread of Judaism, as it was meant to happen. The overall project goals were achieved, but with different actors and executors to what was originally planned.

On a side note, the last century saw the rise of Neopaganism (i.e. polytheistic) movements in Christian countries, as people became disinterested with the traditional, institutionalised Christianity. But our hope is that those are going to fade away with the revival and awakening of the supernatural faith that is in the core of the original evangelical Christianity.

So, what has made God to alter the way how “the chosen people” project was executed? If we look into the project log (i.e. the Old Testament) we will see how God dealt with various setbacks and issues. Right from the start Hebrews complained about everything. They wanted to go back to Egypt, even if that meant going back to slavery, because they knew their place in Egypt and they knew what to expect. Life in Egypt was hard and backbreaking but there was certainty about it. Plunging into an unknown with God, wandering through strange lands and facing a prospect to fight for their survival, did not appeal to Hebrews.

We know that God knew His people and that He deliberately led them via a longer route into the Promised Land, to avoid early war and confrontation with the Philistines, as He said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt” (see Exodus 13:17). So He knew very well how Hebrews felt, but He was hoping that they would have a change of heart. However, even after seeing so many miraculous things God did and was doing for them, the whole affair was simply a too strange experience for many of the Hebrews.

Like a bird that is used to its cage and refuses to leave, if offered freedom after many years, Hebrews refused to be free and go out into the world to build their own future as masters (and not as slaves). The incident of the golden calf (see Exodus 32) shows how quickly they wanted to forget about God and go back into the security and protection of the old life. Seeing them courting with the polytheistic practices, they’ve seen from their former Egyptian neighbours, made God think about restarting the whole project (see Exodus 32:7-10).

Restarting the project meant getting rid of the old project team (i.e. people), hitting a pause button and taking some time to groom the new project team. This pattern is important to remember as God used it a few times during the project. Another pattern that God used was subjecting Hebrews to foreign rule whenever they would stray away from the project and disregard its guidelines. In other words, whenever Hebrews forgot the purpose of the project and why are they in it, God needed to remind them about the same. I’m not sure if Hebrews ever actually fully understood (i.e. every single individual) what the project was about.

I reckon they fully understood that they are the chosen people, and they knew all the benefits that come with partaking in this important project, but I can’t shake the feeling that they didn’t actually grasp what are their obligations and what are their responsibilities being in the project team. And with all due respect, I think they still don’t get it even today. But don’t get me wrong. I don’t think God had abandoned the Jews. After the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD, a popular opinion was that God had abandoned the Jews. On the contrary, they are just blinded until faith spreads to the rest of the world (see Romans 11:25). A lot of the end time events revolve around the restoration of Israel as a people living in their own land. So, God is very much using them as a prophetic time clock, which the world can use to know when the end would happen.

Because the aim of the project was to create a nation of holy and righteous people, that would influence other nations to convert to monotheism (not by force but by example), God applied the above-described teaching mechanisms on the whole of the Hebrew collective in order to achieve the project goals. He needed the whole nation to be holy and righteous (and not just a few individuals) in order to exert that strong influence onto the rest of the world. He needed them to live holy lives, to lead exemplary lives, to showcase uplifting and influential lives, and that was the product they were making. In the factory called “the chosen people” they were supposed to create a ‘model life’, a picture of a good and holy life that everybody else on Earth would copy and follow. Being part of the chosen people is a great privilege, but also a great responsibility.

So, to achieve this goal, God initially designed the rules of “the chosen people” project to exact the desired changes on the whole of the Hebrew collective—they were primarily targeting the collective and then the individuals. The whole collective was to change into a holy nation, and the whole collective (i.e. every individual) was required to transform their lives and live model lives.

When we read the Old Testament (i.e. the project log) we’ll see that this failed and that God eventually changed the approach and switched to focusing on individuals (see Ezekiel 18:19-20). This essentially means that God abandoned the idea to groom the holy nation by using a single nation (i.e. Hebrews), but will instead create the holy nation  by grooming individuals instead (and adding them into the holy nation one by one as they accomplish the required transformation of their lives).  A modern term for such dispersed project team is a virtual team.

So the project called “the chosen people” is still running and is still in execution. God is still building the holy nation, but He is in the business of building the “virtual holy nation”. In Ezekiel 17:23 God is talking about the current stage of the project, the stage we are in. He said: “On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell.

The expression “birds of every sort” represents different nations and races that will become (and are now) part of the project.  At that point in time He was fed up with Hebrews and decided to again restart the project, discard of the most of the project team and then start from scratch with the individual approach. He was preparing the stage and the world for the Messiah (i.e. Jesus) He was about to send.

But let’s leave that story to part 3 (as I’m writing this for a long time already). In part 3 we might look more into mistakes that Hebrews made (that lead to the change of the project approach), but the main point will be to see how the individual approach yielded better results (i.e. the rise of Christianity) and how it quickly brought benefits (i.e. God essentially repeated in Persia the same thing He did in Egypt).

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