Challenge Response: A Real God Wouldn’t Have Let His Chosen People Suffer Defeats

Here's my response to this week's challenge

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Would a real God let his chosen people suffer defeats? That's the challenge for this week, and here's how they phrase the objection: 

If God chose the Jews as his chosen people (a fact necessary for Christianity to be authentic), why did they suffer so many defeats and tribulations at the hands of their enemies? The outcome of many of these conflicts would make it appear that God had chosen the other side instead. This is best exemplified by the Jewish-Roman war of AD 66-73, where the Romans slaughtered the Jews all of the way from Jerusalem to the final stronghold of Masada. It makes no sense that the people backed by an all-powerful God would fall victim to its non-God-aided enemies, much less in such a brutal and convincing fashion.

I have three thoughts regarding this particular challenge, and here's the first one.

God is a just God, and He's obligated to judge sin regardless of who commits it. Certainly there were people around Israel and other nations that engaged in all sorts of criminal and sinful behavior. They worshiped false gods, they sacrificed children to Molech, and other kinds of things. Of course God judged those people, but God is an equal opportunity judger. He judges sin regardless of who commits it. So, when Israel – His own chosen people – decided to engage in sin, He was obligated to judge Israel in order to be a consistent judge.

God is going to judge sin regardless of who commits it even if it’s His own people. It's almost like a good father who punishes his own children when they do wrong. Certainly he's going to uphold justice regardless of where he sees it. Even a good father is going to punish and discipline his own children because he's trying to be a just father and trying to teach his children how to live appropriately.

My second thought is that God choosing Israel as His people does not mean that Israel is God's favorite team, and whenever they are involved in conflict then God is going to destroy all their enemies. For example, if there was one Jew against a million people, then God's going to destroy those million people regardless of what happens. This assumption presumes God is trying to ensure that Israel wins every single war they are involved in. Of course, that's not the case because if that were the case, then Israel would eventually become the leaders of the world. After every engagement, no matter what the odds were, they would win, and then Israel would control the whole world. 

That's not the purpose that God has in mind. In fact, this mistake was similar to the mistake the Jews had when Jesus showed up. A lot of the Jews said, “Well, if you're the Messiah, then you're going to deliver us from the Romans. You’re going to deliver us from the oppression that we are facing from the Roman people.” Even in that case, the purpose of Jesus coming was not to remove Israel from under the oppression of the Romans or to deliver them from some sort of political oppression and make them leaders of the region. God had a different plan. Jesus had a different purpose.

There are at least two reasons or explanations as to why God chooses a people. The first is, God chose Israel, or chose a special people, so that they would be God's representatives on earth. The Israelites would be God's chosen people that would represent God, and they would be the ones who worship the true God so that other nations could see and believe in that God and follow that God. Israel is a representative of God on earth.

The second reason that God chooses a people is so that – through the Israelite people and through that bloodline – eventually the Messiah would come. That Messiah would be the person who represents humanity to God. The Jewish nation is God's representative on earth, and Jesus becomes humanity’s representative to God. That's really what's going on behind God choosing a special people. It's not about helping men win wars. Rather, it's about helping God win souls.

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Alan Shlemon

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