1 Samuel 25:1-44; John 10:22-29; Psalms 115:11-18; Proverbs 24:23-25
NT: “Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem, and it was winter. Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me. But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”” (John 10:22-29 CSB)
Jesus was in the temple celebrating the Festival of Dedication (also known as Hanukkah… Yes, Jesus celebrated Hanukkah) when He was surrounded by Jews who wanted to know if Jesus was indeed the Messiah. They wanted Him to go on record and say it plainly… yes or no. Jesus told them that He had already said it through His words and demonstrated it through His works… but the Jews didn’t hear His words or see His works because they refused to believe. Then He said something interesting… they didn’t believe because they weren’t His sheep… they weren’t of His flock and wouldn’t listen to His voice or accept His works. His sheep were given to Him by the Father. This response from Jesus opens up an age-old debate over an understanding of “the Elect” and the concept of predestination. We become part the Lord’s flock through faith… but we have faith because we have been chosen by the Father to be in the flock. Which is it? It’s almost like asking the proverbial question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Are only those chosen by the Father able to have faith, or can anyone enter by faith and therefore be chosen? Does the Father give irresistible grace to those of “the elect” or does salvation hinge completely on individual responsibility and our own ability to believe? Can a person lose his salvation, or is it “once saved always saved?” This is a mystery that has been debated for centuries. Through all the understanding that I have received over the years, it seems like the truth isn’t “either-or” but more of a balanced “both-and.” Both divine grace and individual responsibility are involved. All humans are created with the ability to have faith in God and God created all of humanity with a pre-destiny of being among the Lord’s people. However, we all have our own will and have the ability to accept or reject the grace of the Lord and the destiny He has for us. God the Father, in His eternal nature and omniscience, knows all and sees all, but He doesn’t force, manipulate, or cajole us in one direction or another. And in that moment, when we humble ourselves and activate, through a deep desire to know God, that ability in us to believe God’s word, God adds grace to that faith and substantiates our membership in His fold of the faithful. And we can be sure, that God will keep us in His fold as long as we desire to be kept.
Psalms: “The Lord remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; he will bless those who fear the Lord — small and great alike. May the Lord add to your numbers, both yours and your children’s. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. The heavens are the Lord’s, but the earth he has given to the human race. It is not the dead who praise the Lord, nor any of those descending into the silence of death. But we will bless the Lord, both now and forever. Hallelujah!” (Psalms 115:12-18 CSB)
The blessing of the Lord isn’t just to the priesthood of Aaron or the nation of Israel. The blessing of the Lord reaches all who fear the Lord… all who place saving faith in His word and lovingly obey His will and follow His ways. The earth was originally placed under the stewardship of the human race, and all humanity has been created with a pre-destiny of sharing in the Lord’s inheritance and ruling and reigning with Him. That pre-destiny becomes an eternal reality through faith. And those who endure by faith will live to praise the Lord, not just now, but for eternity.