The Independent Variable - Matt Haugland

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Why Israel?

I've always wondered why God would choose one particular nation to be his "chosen people", and specifically why it would be Israel. It seems arbitrary, and frankly, a little made-up. But there are a few interesting facts that make it not seem so unbelievable.

1. The Jewish people are among the longest continuously existing cultures/peoples/nations on earth, despite being among the most hated and never being particularly strong or imperialistic. I'm not saying this necessarily means anything, but it's interesting.

2. Intelligence (at least as measured by IQ) is known to be partially genetic. Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average IQ of any ethnic group in the world, approximately 12-15 points higher than the average population. Jews make up only 0.25% of the world's population (2% of the U.S. population) but 28% of Nobel Prize winners in science (40% in the U.S.). There are a lot of explanations out there for this. I'm not saying it necessarily means anything, but it's interesting.

3. If God's "chosen people" means the people through whom God would reveal himself to the world, no other nation comes anywhere close. Approximately 54% of the world's population claims to adhere to a religion centered around YHWH, originally known as "the God of Israel". That's a majority of the entire world! That's more than just interesting. What percentage of the world today worships the god of the Jebusites or Philistines or Egyptians? How many non-Indian Hundus are there, or non-Chinese Confucianists?

It was prophesied approx. 3,000 years ago that the God of Israel would establish a kingdom (and be worshiped) among all the nations of the earth. How ridiculous that claim must've seemed back then. And yet, this ridiculous claim seems to have come true -- or at least more true than for any other nation that has ever existed.

And when did knowledge of the God of Israel start spreading to the rest of the world? I'll give you a hint: think about what many people will be celebrating on Dec. 25.

(Disclaimers: 1 -- My figures came from various web sites, especially Wikipedia, so don't trust them too much. 2 -- I'm not a dispensationalist or premillenialist. I don't believe there's anything particularly special about Israel (or being a descendant of Israel) today other than maybe a closer connection to the history and culture. Israel was special in that it once was the only nation that believed in YHWH, but that changed a lot after the 1st century AD)


At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

That is all very interesting. I don’t believe God discriminates against religions and cultures, not that you implied he does. I do believe God didn’t only choose Israel to send his messages, though this is where he sent his main messenger. I don’t believe that Jews were his main chosen people the way the bible makes it seem, because he doesn’t discriminate. God does not have favorites, because if he did he wouldn’t be pefect. He obviously used the Jewish people to spread his word around the world. It is very interesting to note, that he chose a place that has been at war for so long. Maybe it goes along with the philosophy that we are here to learn and the harder the road the more we learn.

At 9:23 PM, Anonymous jamie said...

Well that IS interesting.. it does seem that it would be weird for God to have a "chosen" people.. as I feel we are ALL his people..
you have some interesting points.

At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm curious what your basis is for saying that God doesn't discriminate. As you quite rightly point out, the Bible is pretty clear on the matter, but you disagree with this. Have you got another source of revelation, and would you please share it?

That really is pretty crazy. Funny old world, idnit? Although now you mention it, something does occur to me: do you think it's conceivable that the modern oxymoron of post-modern philosophy is just truncated Buddhism? Because I think there are a lot of so-called Christians who go a lot further in that direction than after our carpenter fellow.


At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

Joel thanks for the question. I would prefer not to get too deeply into the semantics of the bible, it is clear we disagree, and that is ok. I believe the bible has too many flaws to be perfect, therefore it can not be written by God, but merely inspired by him. I believe that the bible has been inspired by God, but manipulated by Mans own agenda. Using logical reasoning I believe God could not possibly discriminate, because of his perfection. If God is all knowing and all loving, this could not possibly be. If he were all knowing, then he would know what faith is going to be before he becomes that faith. If he knew this and didn’t like it, then why would he have created that person? I do not believe God contains humanistic traits, like jealousy as the bible states. I also don’t believe in fearing God for this very reason. If God is perfect and all loving then he could not possibly possess these traits. I believe God accepts all races, and cultures. I also know the world would be a better place if we as humans acted in such a way. I feel we should stop judging each other because it inspires hate and misunderstands, which I believe is the opposite of what God is. I am very well aware of what most Christian religions teach, and disagree with them. I am a devout Christian, but I just don’t believe in the dogma. I do not say this to try to convince you of mine, and I do not wish to be converted to yours. This is just some of my reasoning for why I believe how I do.

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Marcian said...

I have to say this: that not everyone who celebrates Christmas this Dec. 25th will be truly celebrating the birth of Jesus, nor will they recognize Him as Lord and Savior of their life.

I don't know yet what I believe about Israel, though I know that God has shown through the Bible that He still maintains His covenant although His people prostituted themselves to other gods. I DO believe it's about being chose, though, like Israel was chosen.

That's my 2 cents.

How you been?

At 6:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jason, for the explanation, although it still didn't really answer my question. I was wondering what your basis was for knowing these things about God. For example, do your views reflect the way you think God ought to be? Or are they derived from a different religious tradition with a different authority, like Ba'hai? I don't want to start a fight or anything, I'm just asking.


At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

I am not a theologist, however I have done extensive study on many different religions. I was trying to learn as much as I possibly could about every religion I could. I am still interested in studying more religions and cultures. I was trying to find something that rang true to me. I was raised Catholic but don’t claim to be that. I come closer to being Gnostic Christian than anything else. I believe the more we know about each religion and culture, the more we accept each other. I have believed from an early age that there was something wrong with the dogma of most Christian religions. So I studied many aspects of religion and found there are a lot of hidden agenda’s in a lot of them, like greed and power. Just one example dating back 2000 yrs, the Jewish Rabbi’s wanted Jesus crucified because they were afraid to lose power. To sum it up, I found my beliefs by researching other religions, and found myself closest to Gnostic Christian. I do hope this clarifies things. If you have any more questions feel free to ask.

At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jewish people have always been a successful lot, and there is no doubt that they deserve their success. Their culture empahsizes hard work and education above all else. But their dominance on the world stage became cemented only after mass Jewish immigration to the United States and the establishment of Israel. Israel could not exist without U.S. Aid, and if you consider the fact that in the United States, the most powerful nation history has ever known, Jews are essentially in control of the banking system, the courts, the health system, and the political process, it is no wonder that with their meager numbers they enjoy umatched success.

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why Israel? Without Israel, the Muslim world and people like Mr. Anonymous #1 wouldn't have anyone to blame for all of their problems and/or lack of success!

Mr. Anonymous #2

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous #2 needs to re-read what Anonymous #1 wrote. Anonymous #1 said nothing about his/her own success (or blamed anyone for a supposed lack thereof). Anonymous #1 noted that the Jews are succesful and discussed some of the key modern era factors that explain that success. He/she made it clear that he/she admires the Jewish people for their emphasis on hard work and education. Anonymous #2 creates a straw man with his/her banal and pedestrian reaction.


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