Amazing Grace

by Kenneth J Price

The purposes of Israel's election by God are clearly elaborated in the Word. They were chosen to be a special people, and this recalls the words of Moses from God to the people: "Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:5,6).

"The LORD did not set his love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because he would keep the oath which he swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 7:7,8).

Here we see very clearly that Israel was called to a unique status with God for which they had been chosen, and they were constantly reminded to glory only in the name of God "because the LORD loves you."

In His sovereign love and faithfulness alone was to be found the explanation of Israel's election, certainly not in the nation's size, for God chose their father Abraham, being only one, and the family of Jacob which descended into Egypt, being only some seventy souls. It followed from the sovereignty of God's grace that Israel had no claims upon Him that might encourage carelessness regarding His covenant demands and sanctions, and He declared: "Therefore know that the LORD your God, he is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love him and keep his commandments" (Deuteronomy 7:9). Moses declared that God's grace, God's unmerited favour, would be continued to the thousandth generation, and yet God made it very clear that apostate despisers of this grace and holiness would discover that the covenant curses were not idle threats; He made it clear that grace does not exclude discipline. God paid the price; Israel encountered the discipline.

Divine Grace and Abraham

Let us consider the place of Divine grace in the separation of Abraham. Four hundred years had passed since the days of faithful Noah who had found grace in the eyes of the Lord, but now the nations had sunk into idolatry very deeply. It was now not a religion of faith but a religion of sight, when men "worshipped the creature more than the Creator who is blessed for ever" (Romans 1:25). Abraham's father was an idolator, yet by God's grace an effectual call was afforded to Abraham, and he went forth at the call and command of God. This was a call of grace and the command of God, and the call of God is always a separation by Divine grace.

Abraham was called out of his kindred, out of his country, out of his father's house. This was a threefold separation -- from his country, his kindred and his father's house. It was a complete and total separation from worldly perceptions, and a complete dedication to a better country from God's perspective, unto a land that God would show to the one whose eyes had been opened by Divine grace. We also see the place of Divine grace in the actual promise to Abraham: the call of Abraham was accompanied with the promise of Divine grace. There was no command to Abraham that he should perform. This was the unqualified call and promise of grace. It was all about what God would do, not about anything Abraham would have to do. God said He would show him a land, and said, "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:2,3).

We notice the perfection of this promise. It is a sevenfold promise. Grace is always perfect, and God's promises are always perfect.

Divine Grace and Moses

When we study the life of Moses we see the power of Divine grace, firstly, in his preservation after his birth when he was laid in an ark of bulrushes and hidden from the vengeance of Pharaoh; secondly, when he was preserved for forty years "in the backside of the desert"; and thirdly, when he was eventually brought to triumph over Pharaoh and all his pursuing hosts.

In the life of Moses, too, we may see the plan of grace symbolized -- in the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and in their deliverance from all the tyranny and the sword: "Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you ... when I strike the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:13).

In the culminating verses of the Word of God, which speak of things eternal, we may read of the triumph of grace in the life of Moses, the servant of the Lord: "And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: 'Great and marvellous are your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of Saints!'" (Revelation 15:3,4) Thus we see that in the eternal ages the saints will sing "the song of Moses the servant of the Lord."

Divine Grace in David

David's life was surely punctuated with the word GRACE. It was God's choice and grace that took him from the sheepcote and made him king. It was grace that preserved him in all his battles with the enemies of God commencing with the Philistine giant. It was Divine grace that lifted him out of the pit into which he had fallen, the pit of adultery and murder, as he prayed: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions ... for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me ... Create in me a clean heart, O God ... the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart -- these, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51).

And it was grace that enabled him to write those words, and many more psalms, some of the most beautiful in all Scripture. Indeed, he could say with true conviction: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Pslam 32:1).

"Salmon Begot Boaz"

In the genealogy of Joseph recorded for us in Matthew chapter 1 we may read the words: "Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king." In this genealogy we see four women who were all stained by sin, but who were yet brought into line with God's purposes through grace: Rahab and Ruth as in the Scripture above, as well as Tamar, Judah's daughter-in-law, and Bathsheba, David's wife.

Tamar played the part of a prostitute, Rahab was the harlot of Jericho fame, Ruth was a Moabitess and Bathsheba an adulteress, yet by grace they are all in the genealogy of the Messiah as Matthew records. In Scripture the number five is the number that speaks of grace, and the fifth woman, who stands out in all her glory and purity is Mary. "And Jacob bogot Joseph the husband of Miriam, of whom was born Yeshua who is called the Messiah" (Matthew 1:16).

Divine Grace in Paul

As Paul, who was "still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Acts 9:1,2), he was met by a Divine illumination of grace, whereby he was converted and told by God what things he must do for Him in his life. As he later told King Agrippa when recounting his experience of the Lord and his grace: "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance" (Acts 26:19,20).

Paul also wrote to the Hebrews the Divine plan of grace: " ...we see Yeshua, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that he, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering (2:9,10).

Here is the plan declared: "TO BRING MANY SONS TO GLORY". What a great task the grace of God has set before it! Into the pit the whole of mankind has fallen. All are totally and hopelessly devoid of the glory which God originally purposed. Man has become a rebel at heart, and it is the plan of Almighty God, through grace, "TO BRING MANY SONS TO GLORY", to bring them out of the pit and to cleanse them from all sin.