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Revista Studii Teologice

REVISTA FACULTĂŢILOR DE TEOLOGIE DIN PATRIARHIA ROMÂNĂ



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Aspectul universal al alegerii lui Israel ca popor al lui Iahve

The Universal Aspect of Israel’s Choice as the People of Yahweh

Autor(i): Pr. Viorel-Cristian POPA


If at the beginning of the human history, man was expelled from Paradise and doomed to death for disobedience and insubordination, and later for the same sins, was punished by flood, this time God decides to save all existence by choosing Israel. Thus, the choice is part of the divine plan for the salvation of the world. The calling and the election of Israel is God’s response to the world’s crisis, a crisis that occurred because people did not accept their role in a world where God is sovereign. Thus, a reason for the existence of Israel is that at the time of its election, creation was under curse for disobedience, but God wanted all human beings to be saved by knowing the Truth. In fact, God ruled all nations even before the rise of Israel and will continue to do so until the end of time. God’s chosen people has the task of being a beacon of light to the Gentiles, so that, in relationship with Yahweh, to serve all humanity. Thus, by divine election, Israel was meant to play a decisive role in the history of salvation and to have a very special mission. In this sense, Israel’s mission was not so much active, but especially passive. The testimony of the people’s faith through their own lifestyle represented a way of attracting the Gentiles to God.
The study presents the concept of choice, based on specific biblical terminolo-gy. Although the religious belief that Israel was the individual property of Yahweh goes back in time to the earliest beginnings of Israel, the use of the term, as a theo-logical expression of this belief, suddenly appears for the first time in the Deutero-nomy. None of the Old Testament’s sources dating before the Deuteronomy refer directly to the choice of a people of Yahweh, and yet, on the other hand, the exege-tes of the Old Testament have always recognized that the religion of ancient Israel was from the outset based on a sole and exclusive relationship between this people and Yahweh. Other exegetes, starting from the definition of the chosen people as a group separated from the other nations, a people designated for a special relationship with God, see this belief as a central characteristic of Israel’s faith beginning with Moses. It is true that the study of a particular word cannot provide conclusions able to clarify comprehensively the question of the existence or nonexistence of a particu-lar religious belief of Israel. In the academic literature on this topic, there appeared three views of the exegetes that we present in this study.
Obviously, the concept of „chosen people” existed around mid-8th century B.C., even though the term itself is recorded only later. This is proven by the words of prophet Amos, but especially the post-exile revelation that includes several mentions of the election of Israel by Yahweh. Through the voice of the prophets, God addres-ses a particular people, which He declares to be His, to whom He reveals Himself and whom He promises to lead away from Egypt, to a land of His choice. Thus the electi-on of Israel by Yahweh is certain, although the purpose and true reason for this choice might have remained unknown to those first addressed by God. As a motivati-on of the choice, the biblical exegetes could not find another one than that of the infinite love of God for His creation. Another motivation cannot be identified. The act of the divine election is analogous to the choosing of a wife by a man. In this case, love is the ultimate criterion of choice. The event of Israel’s exodus from Egypt is often seen as a manifestation of God’s love for this people. Israel is called sometimes divine son, but this appellation was accepted because of the spiritual role that Israel had in the world. Between God and Israel was established the same type of relati-onship that exists between a father and a son. Following this spiritual adoption, Israel would best define itself as “light to the Gentiles”. Thereafter, the divine election was made in an universal perspective. It frames in God’s plan that has a dimension which includes all creation. Israel is called to a ministry through which God intends to ac-complish the salvation of all men, the perfection of all creation. The redemption was promised to all the descendants of Adam and on which have extended the conse-quences of the Fall.
There is a path of salvation that starts from the fallen Adam and goes till Christ. This path does not exclude anyone and is not limited to a single people. Israel is called to a specific ministry suitable for the historical moment. Its ministry consists in the revelation of the only true God to the people that they had forgotten. The mission of the chosen people was twofold. On the one hand, it was to reflect in the world the blessings of the unique relationship with God, and secondly, to call all the people to the knowing of this God and to the following of His ways. This mission leads to the passage from the relationship God-Israel to the relationship God-nations. The-refore, instead of being considered a privilege or a favour, the election of Israel for ministry must be considered a mission, a specifically mandate with a special responsi-bility. All nations are called to salvation, on the path opened and revealed to them by the God of Israel. The holy people is a model for the others, which in their turn are expected to raise their eyes to the “mountain of the Lord’s temple” and undertake a similar spiritual ascension. The Law was given to Israel, but the divine judgment is universal. Everything connecting the Old Law to a particular people will be abolished; national borders around Israel will give way to the whole human race, to enjoy the benefits of fulfilled promise. Israel’s privileged status will be abolished, once this pur-pose is achieved.
Almost all the Old Testament prophets speak about the missionary dimension of Israel, God’s chosen people and about the universal character of salvation. The messianic prophecies recorded in the prophet’s books present the salvation as a spiri-tual universal new order, and a completely opposite state to the state of sinfulness. The prophets repeatedly mention the conversion of other nations to the religion of the true God. They express the hope that sooner or later, the Gentiles will under-stand their mistaken path, will abandon idolatry and will adhere to the worship of the One God. The fact that the Israelites left the geographical confines of Israel, at diffe-rent times and for different reasons, contributed to the dissemination of their faith and transformed Judaism from a national into a universal religion. Historical events occurring in Israel are relevant not only to this country and nation, but to the entire humankind as a whole. Christ, born in the Jewish people, became the Savior of all mankind, irrespective of nation, gender or social position. While for the same insu-bordinance, God had previously banished Adam from Paradise and punished the sinners by the Flood, this time He calls the entire mankind to salvation. God reveals Himself to all.

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Pagini: 19-34