“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . . For he chose us in him before the creation of the world.” Ephesians 1:3-4
A recent journey through the book of Genesis got me thinking about Abraham. Ever stop to realize how significant Abraham is to literally billions of people around the world? Jews claim him as their national, cultural, and spiritual father. Muslims revere and respect him as a great prophet. And Christians realize that through Abraham, God provided the seed of the Messiah.
So as I was reading about Abraham—specifically about God’s call and Abraham’s response in Genesis 12:1-20—the question struck me. Why Abraham? Out of all of the people on the globe at that moment, why did God choose him?
It wasn’t because of his spiritual merits or extraordinary abilities. God didn’t hold some kind of “Ur of the Chaldeans Idol” competition in which early patriarchs lined up for the chance to strut their spiritual stuff before the Almighty and a few celebrity judges. On the contrary, from what we know of Ur, Abraham was living in a sophisticated, yet pagan, idolatrous society, and, most likely, he himself was an idolater. So why on earth did God choose him?
Here’s my stunning, biblically educated answer: I don’t have a clue.
It’s just one of God’s mysterious ways. He chooses people. The pages of biblical history are packed with stories of God’s choices—people like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David—all handpicked by God, for reasons known only to Him.
God’s choice had huge ramifications. They became the recipients of some phenomenal promises—spelled out in the covenants that God made with them. To Abraham and his heirs, God promised land, a national heritage, and the blessing of countless descendants. God’s choice of Moses included the promise of His presence and the revelation of His holiness and character through the law. And David, chosen out of the seeming obscurity of wandering the hills of Bethlehem as a shepherd, was promised an eternal kingdom in which his descendants would reign forever! Why would God do that? It’s just His way.
God’s choice also gave them the phenomenal privilege of participating in His plans. Think about it. God could have created a nation, revealed His law, and provided a Messiah entirely independent of man’s assistance or participation. And yet God chooses Abraham to be the father of a nation. He picks Moses to meet Him on top of Mount Sinai, returning to the Israelites with God’s law. And He selects David and his descendants to lay the groundwork for the Son of God’s appearance in this world.
Which brings us to this amazing promise in the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. He stuns those of us who are followers of Christ with the revelation that, before the creation of the world, we were chosen by God—just like Abraham. Just like Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. That’s very elite company!
And, just like them, our chosen status makes us recipients of His covenant promises—the forgiveness of sins, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and hope and meaning for this life and the promise of eternity in heaven for the next. Like the patriarchs, we’re given the privilege of participation in His plans. We become His messengers and ambassadors—agents of reconciliation as we share His good news. He doesn’t need us, but He willingly chooses us! He actually desires us—desires us to join Him in the advance of His cause.
Which brings me back to the same question I had about God’s choice of Abraham: Why? Why would God choose little ole’ me? Actually, I don’t need to know. All I know is, it’s just His way. Which should make all of us humble, grateful, and happily obedient for the rest of our days!
- Look through Ephesians 1:1-23. What are the other benefits of being chosen by Christ? What is the purpose of His choosing according to Ephesians 1:4?
- You’ve been selected to participate in God’s plans! How does that encourage you in your work and service for Him today?
- Spend some time in prayer, reflecting on the truth that He not only knows who you are, but that He has chosen you. Have you responded to Him by receiving His free gift of salvation through Christ? If not, how about doing that today!