- What the Jews Can Teach us About the MORAL UNIVERSE
- Why Does the World HATE THE JEWS?
Three questions interweave in ways that may not be immediately evident: they all relate to the moral universe.
- Why are the Jews God’s chosen people?
- Why are some nations rich and others poor?
- Why have Jews been so persecuted throughout history?
I have pondered these questions much of my adult life, and have come to see that a thread ties them together.
WHY ARE THE JEWS GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE?
Are the Jews God’s chosen people because they are morally superior? Because they were the biggest, most important nation politically? Because they were strong militarily? The richest?
It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Deu. 7:7-8
Deuteronomy 9:6 reiterates this: “Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.”
The Jews had none of the traditional virtues to be chosen. In fact, they were stubborn, enslaved and impoverished.
So why did He choose them? Because He willed to. He chose the least and most stubborn for a purpose, to be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:2-3). He turned slaves into a free nation. He enabled the impoverished to escape poverty and flourish instead. He transformed “nobodies” into a model nation. The key to this transformation is the knowledge of the moral God and His moral universe. This knowledge is not salvific, but it is transformative on a certain level.
WHY ARE SOME NATIONS RICH AND SOME POOR?
Many people define poverty as the lack of money and assume it derives from some physical circumstance. This is the materialist’s myth. Wealth is comprehensive, wholistic. It is birthed in freedom, and maintained by living responsibly in a moral universe. The Hebrews were impoverished slaves and God transformed them into a free people and a great nation.
By nature, God is good and righteous; he created a moral universe. In Deuteronomy, He tells the Hebrews, whom He has set free from slavery in Egypt, that they inhabit a moral universe and by living within this framework poverty can be broken and wisdom and knowledge, rather than folly and ignorance, can prevail. They had been freed from physical slavery in Egypt, but still had a slave mentality, a mindset of victimization and dependency. That slave mentality would be harder to overcome than was their physical slavery. But God would give them new minds, minds for living in freedom as moral and responsible agents, free to pursue that for which they had been made.
And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you … See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? Deuteronomy 4:1-2,5-8
In His goodness, God has revealed His existence and called people to pursue virtue and righteousness, to forsake evil and lawlessness. When people choose to live in synch with the moral universe they thrive. Even if born into poverty, by obeying the moral framework they can discover freedoms, including social and economic mobility.
Dennis Prager captures this in his commentary on Exodus 19:6:
This option of God calling men to be holy was another world-changing innovation of the Torah. In the words of Walter Kaufmann, the Princeton philosopher and self-described heretic: “Every man [not just one class of people] is called upon to make something of himself. Perhaps this was the most revolutionary idea of world history” (emphasis added). In those countries in which the Hebrew Bible has made an impact, Kauffman continued, “this idea may appear to be a commonplace …” but everywhere else, “one can appreciate the revolutionary impact of these words.”
The idea of mobility from one economic condition to another is predicated on the reality that human beings are made in the image of God, filled with potential, free and responsible moral agents in a moral universe. As such, history is not something that happens to you, it is something that you make!
Making morally good choices will have a positive impact on your life and the lives of others. Making morally poor choices will negatively impact your life and the lives of others. Your circumstances impact your life but are never the most important factor. You can make something of yourself. God created you for a purpose, and you can discover that purpose and walk in your calling. This understanding allows individuals and whole societies to move out of social or economic bondage. This indeed is a world-changing idea. It allows for social and economic mobility.
WHY HAVE THE JEWS BEEN SO PERSECUTED?
Anti-Semitism has profoundly interrupted the lives of almost every generation of Jews. They have been harassed, persecuted, driven from their home and their land, and murdered. Germany’s Third Reich tried to extinguish the entire Jewish nation. Why?
I suggest two primary reasons. First, it was through the Jews that God revealed His goodness and righteousness; through them He revealed the moral universe we inhabit. Those who want to live outside a moral framework hate those who introduced the moral nature of God and of the universe.
Second, the Jews have generally prospered more than other peoples because they understood God’s moral demands and sought to live within them, even in dire circumstances. Many others envy and hate the Jews for their prosperity, leading to resentment and often to violence.
The Judeo-Christian worldview built the culture of the USA. People from all over the world see it as a place they can work hard to realize their dreams.
Many people are filled with envy and jealousy toward that success and want to destroy the culture that produced it. To my mind this explains much of our current moment in the United States and in other parts of the world.
This is not a time to abandon our principles or Judeo-Christian heritage, but to reaffirm what has built great nations and to model the virtues that led to freedom and flourishing. It is time to live before the face of God, no matter the consequences. Do not follow the herd that despises the Jews. Model their courage and persistence over their generations of persecution.
Truth is self-authenticating. Stand up, speak truth and live in truth, in the midst of this season of tyranny and growing chaos and corruption. Have courage. Do the small things in the right ways. There will be a price; choose freedom and pay its price. Flee the comfort and safety that end in slavery.
- Darrow Miller
 Prager, Dennis. The Rational Bible: Exodus. Regnery Faith. Kindle Edition. p. 212