How does Orthodoxy see the "Chosen" people.. Why a "chosen" people and what does it mean? Was Israel really the Chosen people?
...Can`t anyone explain me the philosophy of the chosen people?This subjects offends me a lot and because of this subject I`m having strong difficulties in believing that the biblical G-d is the true G-d.I feel like Marcion.. Because of this subject I am on the merge of becoming an agnostic/atheist.. What morality in heaven`s name shall we draw from G-d having a chosen people?
An important early, long, and ever-controversial Jewish, apostolic, and patristic witness affirms a coming figure and purpose in the form of promise/fullfillment) -a Messiah and a trajectory of peace (shalom according to philologists meaning not simply the absence of war, but wholeness) radiating outward in our finite, contingent world into universal significance from before creation and time themselves, which we as Christians (lit those who follow the "Christ" or expected Messiah -the considerably rare phenomenon of an expected man promised one day to appear in history) identify as Jesus Christ/Messiah the eternal Logos. Regardless of the requisite controversies and qualifications that pertain to such an ever-assailed and controversial position I stand with those who affirm a Messianic trajectory was present from the time of the Promise made to Abraham onward; not only thence, but radiating from more ancient times still.
I take lost to be perplexed by what I call the scandal of particularity. Did God not care for those other nations and cultures that had no Messiah? But biblically this is inaccurate. Biblically all nations and cultures do have a Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.“All nations shall be blessed…”
(Gen 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14).
One of the most prevalent critiques of Christianity during the Enlightenment period was the scandal of particularism/provincialism.
Israel traces the beginnings of her faith to an unusual series of promises recorded to single individual, a wandering Aramaean Nomad from Ur of the Chaldees known as Abraham. I will make you the father of many nations (Gen 17:4; Heb. gôyìm, the same Hebrew word often translated as "Gentiles" as in Is. 9:1 and elsewhere. Note that Abraham was a ger, i. e., a foreigner (“Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods” (Josh 24:2). Many names of Abraham's family, Sarah, Micah, Terah, Laban, are associated with the Moon cult in Ur; this merely places them in the context of Ur. Abraham's faith did not "develop" from the moon cult, but emerged boldly and contrastively from its midst).
Whatever the cause, Greek thought was unaware of Inter-polis relations (Gk. polis = “city state”) and, like much of ancient thought, was hostile to the foreigner (Greek mind, intelligible speech, reason, and the barbaroi (“barbarians”) who lacked ho logos (“Reason”). Categories were generally domestic rather than international, and throughout the ancient world there was an antagonism towards outsiders and strangers. Cf. also the place of the goy-goyiim in God's purpose (God's promise to bless all the nations/peoples/tribes of the globe through a descendant of Abraham (see below), a correlate to the commission to preach the gospel to all the nations (Matt 28:19ff. ethne: is literally ethnic groups; cf. “ethnology”). Until very late (possibly the 5th century BC there was no basis in classical thought for any kind of 'Internationalism' let alone for concepts of International responsibilities or transnational norms. God's ultimate promise, presence, and purpose is, by contrast, to redeem the fallen universe (Is 60-66). In Christ there is no Greek, barbarian, male, or female.
The God of the Bible is indeed not some petty provincialistic and particularistic deity as Paine claimed, blessing only his chosen nation (Paine, Age of Reason); his aim was always to bless all peoples, universally, from the very beginning (particularistic modality; universal aim/purpose):
A. A PROMISE FOR ALL NATIONS!
Gen 12:3 (Yhwh to Abram at Haran): "In you shall all of the clans of the earth be blessed."
Gen 18:18 (Yhwh to Abraham at Mamre): "All nations of the earth shall be blessed in him."
Gen 22:18 (Angel of Yhwh to Abraham at Moriah): "In your seed all nations of the earth shall regard themselves as blessed."
Gen 26:4 (Yhwh to Isaac at Gerar): "In your seed all nations of the earth shall regard themselves as blessed."
Gen 28:14 (Yhwh to Jacob at Bethel): "In you and in your seed all clans of the earth shall be blessed."
Some important technical points on these passages (this paragraph may be skipped without missing the sense of the post): (1) Beneficiaries of the promise are variously rendered: as clans (mishphechot) of the land ('adhamah; e.g. 12:3); expanded/clarified within the book of Genesis as all nations (goyim/"peoples"/"Gentiles") of the earth ('erets; e.g. 18:18) . Lexically, these terms might be understood either as having merely local usage, or in an unrestricted sense, if taken alone. But they are not alone. If broader canonical context (OT) is factored in, it becomes clear that they were understood by ancient biblical writers themselves taken universally rather than locally (e.g. usage of goyim in Isaiah/ so-called "prophetic universalism," etc.). (2) The Hithpael verb form of Gen 22:18 and 26:4 may be understood as reflexive, i.e. that the nations would regard themselves as blessed in Abraham's seed; however the Niphal form (Gen 12:3; 18:18; 28:14) indicates the nations will be blessed in or through Abraham in an objective sense. The Hithpael indicates a subjective sense of blessing by the recipients whereas the Niphal emphasizes the objective fact. Some translators have sought to make the sense of the verb uniform throughout all the relevant passages (some translating all passages in the sense of the Hithpael; others translating all passages in the sense of the Niphal). To this author it seems best to let each text say what it says, not what we "want it to say" (whether in a so-called "liberal" or "conservative" direction). The stems have thus been rendered above individually as they actually stand in each given narrative. (3) Contextually the possibility of an unrestricted collective meaning of seed (i.e. seed as "all the descendants") is ruled out by the continual narrowing (through Isaac but not Ishmael; through Jacob but not Esau, and so on throughout the Bible).
Ancient Jewish sources before Christ interpreted these promises Messianically; the NT interprets them so; other Old Testament authors interpret them so; the Patristic fathers interpreted them so; many thoughtful interpreters through the centuries have thought so, including our present century. The Messiah is, of course, not specifically mentioned in these passages. Nevertheless, a theme begins, one which is carefully, even meticulously, traced through some fourteen hundred years of our Biblical literature. This theme most definitely is specifically related to Messianic contexts, repeatedly, by subsequent authors in both the Old Testament and the New. It becomes not just a Messianic theme, but the Messianic theme. It is not too much to suggest that this conceptual trajectory is one of the most important and pervasive in the Bible. It comprises one of the firmest candidates for very unlikely prophecy which seems strikingly fulfilled in history. Why? It is strange, but true, that an obscure aged Aramaean nomad of the 3rd millennium B.C. named Abraham received a promise from God that he would be the fountainhead of a blessing that would extend to every nation/people of the entire world. That his name, as well as the name of the Savior who descended from him, has been carried into every nook and cranny of the earth is a matter of record today; three of the four major world religions consider this man their spiritual progenitor; there are but a few peoples remaining that have not yet received translations of these ancient promises in their own tongues.
The "seed" of Abraham cannot refer the total plurality of Abraham's descendants without restriction, since the physical line of descent indicated in these passages through which the Promise will be realized is continually narrowed throughout the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis (through Isaac and not Ishmael; through Jacob and not Esau, etc.). A "seed trajectory" does not only move forward from Abraham in Genesis; it also creeps up from behind. When the question was asked, as it often was, where this "seed trajectory" began, many through the centuries found the answer in the first mention of a "promised seed" in Gen 3:15. In that passage, "seed" can only be a "he" (masculine singular) and not possibly a "they" or an "it." It is a matter of record that, largely because of the text of Genesis, Israel ultimately watched for, waited for, a particular promised person to fulfill this trajectory: the only expected man in history. The promise trajectory continued to be carefully traced for many centuries, narrowing finally to David, to Solomon, and ultimately to the Messiah. Through a descendant born of the line of Abraham, it was long believed, one day would come a One through whom all nations and peoples would be blessed, and would find blessing in Him. (cf. also the superb article in Colin Brown, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, vol. I, pp.76-81).
B. FOR ALL NATIONS: A MESSIANIC PROMISE!
If all Old Testament passages which comment on and/or expand this trajectory are investigated and considered as admissible evidence, denial that these passages are Messianic is simply not possible, for the OT clearly understands them so. All nations/peoples/Gentiles blessed? Why? When? Where, How? It is impossible to understand Messianic trajectory apart from this central theme. A full investigation of this is beyond the current scope, but it is important to see some of the many themes are tied in to this trajectory of the Promise of God to bless all Gentile peoples and nations:
1. The Promise to all nations in Ps 22: "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to Yhwh, and all the families of the nations/Gentiles shall worship before You" (Ps 22:27). Remember what?!! What are all non-Jewish nations to one day remember which will cause them in every place to worship the God of this tiny kingdom? The deliverance of a single victim who cried "they pierced my hands and my feet..." (vs. 16). The deliverance of a single victim, who though brought "to the dust of death" (vs. 15) would nevertheless be delivered and praise the name of God in the assembly (vs. 22; cf. LXX: ekklesia/"church"). The idea that people in every nation of the world would worship the God of tiny Israel was in and of itself an outlandish enough notion when Psalm 22 was written several centuries before Christ. The idea that they would do so on the basis of remembrance of a single victim who had been delivered from death seems at least odd on the surface. How could such an event even conceivably result in the worship among all nations and peoples of Yhwh, the God of this tiny nation? How would such an event usher in the worship of Yhwh by the Gentiles? (note: the suggestion that vs. 16 might also be translated "like a lion my hands and feet" rather than "they pierced my hands and feet" is an ancient one; this translation, though rather awkward, was championed by opponents of Christianity for centuries; it seemed viable, though odd, -until recently. Unlike the 10th century A. D. Masoretic text, the Dead Sea Scroll fragment of Psalm 22 dating well before Christ (which preserves the oldest textual witness to the Psalm) cannot be translated "like a lion my hands and feet" but can only mean "they pierced my hands and feet" (cf. Abegg, Martin G., Flint, Peter W., and Ulrich, Eugene Charles, Eds., The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: The Oldest Known Bible Translated for the First Time into English (San Francisco: Harper, 1999), footnote to the Psalm 22 fragment; DSS aside, the LXX ihas long been considered conclusive enough for most textual critics). Here, a full three centuries before crucifixion was invented by the Persians, we have as the specific spark igniting the flame of worldwide Gentile worship of tiny Israel's Yhwh the remembrance of a crucifixion victim.
2. The Promise to all nations in Isaiah 9: "In Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy... For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful! Counselor! Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace..." (Isa. 9:1b-2; 6). The blessing of the nations/Gentiles would come through the agency of God himself, born as a child, who will minister in the geographical region of Galilee.
3. The Promise to all nations in the Servant Poems of Isaiah: The Servant Poems are also very specifically coupled with this theme of blessing to all nations/peoples. "Behold! My Servant!" (Isa 42:1) ...I will ...give you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles" (Isa. 42:6); Though disfigured to the point that He (the Servant) wouldn't even look like a human being, astonishing others, His actions would -nevertheless(!)- be successful (Heb. yaskil), and he would be exalted high above all others (Isa. 52:13-14)... His horrible disfigurement would result in the atonement of many nations (Is 52:15)... He would be wounded (Heb. macholal, lit. "pierced through") for our transgressions, for our iniquities; would be chastised for our peace, would receive stripes for our healing (Isa. 53:5). Though "cut off from the land of the living" (53:
the Servant would see; He would arise; His days would be prolonged (cf. especially Isa. 53, entire chapter; this chapter was universally acknowledged as Messianic by early Jewish interpreters); cf. also Is 61:1ff. (Jesus identified himself with this figure in Lk 4:16); the praise of the Gentiles in Isa. 61:11 and 62:2 correlates this material with the Abrahamic trajectory).
4. The Promise to all nations radiates outward from Bethlehem: "They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek. But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you were little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from eternity... He shall be great to the ends of the earth, and this one shall be peace (Micah 5:1-2, 4).
5. The Promise to all nations, the expected Son of Man, and the kingdom which will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14) "Then to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him" (7:14a). What?
For the sake of brevity we will confine ourselves to these admittedly cursory glimpses which properly deserve a great deal more individual scrutiny than is possible here. Many more examples could be given, and far more analysis even of the few examples which were given is desirable, but beyond the present scope.
No longer is it possible, as it was when these ancient words were written, for us to look ahead for the day all peoples in all nations will worship Yah. No longer is it possible to look forward to find what Isaiah saw, that even Kings and Princes of many nations would worship the God of one tiny nation, Judah. This truly unbelievable, inconceivable phenomenon is now our history. The God of tiny Israel is now worshipped as the Savior of the whole world, throughout the whole world; in his arms are gathered Jews, Gentiles, pagans, and the chiefest of sinners; he seeks us all. When did this happen, this incredible thing, so ubiquitous it remains unnoticed?
C. Mt 24:14: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations..." The gospel proclaimed a the tiny little band of an itinerate teacher who never wandered more than 100 miles from his place of birth will span the globe? With no cell phone, internet, or even a printing press? A teacher who left no writings? Virtually inconceivable. Coincidence?
Skepticism is incomplete until it becomes skeptical of itself.