“For there are many invited, but few chosen.”
Writing to the congregation of Corinth almost 2,000 years ago the apostle Paul admonished the Christians of that congregation in relation to the accounts recorded in the Old Testament: ” Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things”(1 Cor. 10:11)
In actual fact many of the stories found in the Old Testament were a type of events that found fulfilment during Jesus’ ministry and others are still pointing to the future events.For example ,when Jehovah asked Abraham to offer his son Isaac as sacrifice is not because God is a bloodthirsty god as the gods of Canaan ,it is only because Jehovah is giving us a glimpse of what it felt like for him sacrificing his Son centuries later on a torture stale on behalf of the fallen humankind.This kind if devise is called the type and anti-type, and is quite common in the Bible .So it is then that Jesus’ words to his disciples “many are called but few are chosen ” is more easily understood in the light of a story from the times of the Judges that ruled Israel at the time that no king was appointed in the land.(Matt.22:14)
One of these outstanding Judges was Gideon that lived during a very turbulent time in Israel’s history . Due to their lack of faith ,Jehovah had delivered the Israelites in the hand of Midian for 7 years during which the became very impoverished and they started crying out for help . God raised a man called Gideon from the tribe of Manasseh to deliver his people .He ordered Gideon to assemble an an army to fight the Midianites. In fact a “calling” went throughout Israel and many responded to that “calling” by joining Gideon and his men for battle.
In fact Gideon gathered together 32,000 men to fight an army of 135,000 Midianites, a ratio of 1 Israelite for almost 5 Midianites! Jehovah now said to Gidʹe·on: “There are too many people with you for me to give Midʹi·an into their hand. Otherwise, Israel might brag about itself against me and say, ‘My own hand saved me.’(Judges 7:2) Yes,Jehovah had “called” every willing Israelite but there were more tests ahead for those who would be finally “chosen” for the battle. So Jehovah is now asking Gideon: “Now, please, announce in the presence of the people: ‘Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return home.’” So Gidʹe·on put them to the test. With that, 22,000 of the people returned home, and 10,000 remained.”(Judges 7:3) These men were willing to fight but they lacked courage ,fear of man disqualified them for battle.
Surely ,these 10,000 were now at least ready for battle ,or where they? Jehovah is now asking for a final test: “ “There are yet too many people. Have them go down to the water so that I may test them for you there. When I say to you, ‘This one will go with you,’ he will go with you, but when I say to you, ‘This one will not go along with you,’ he will not go along.” 5 So he took the people down to the water.Then Jehovah said to Gidʹe·on: “Separate everyone who laps up the water with his tongue just as a dog laps, from those who bend down on their knees to drink.” 6 The number of those lapping up the water, putting their hand to their mouth, was 300 men. The rest of the people bent down on their knees to drink.” (Judges 7:4-6) What was the crucial difference here ? These men were willing to fight and they had courage but what most lacked was alertness of danger ,they were not as soldiers keeping their senses tune to danger.Finally from an army of 35,000 “called” only 300 were “chosen”.
What is the lesson for us today then? In a similar way God is calling today anyone who is willing to hear the Word and out faith in Jesus ,the greater Gideon.This invitation is extended to all people on this planet regardless colour,gender or nationality but soon the War of Armageddon will be upon us and the ones who would do the fighting will have to pass the test before they are chosen for action .
In the first test many turned back because of fear or other considerations like going home, obviously back to their family.In a like manner Jesus warned that “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” In the most difficult period to come upon mankind our faith will be tested to the maximum.Are you prepared to stand up for the truth despite persecution even persecution from your own family? Jesus warned: “Furthermore, brother will deliver brother over to death, and a father a child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.”(Mark 13:12) Are you prepared to display faith to the point of having your family betray you ? Courage is primary quality for those who will battle in Jesus’ side .Speaking to the Israelites prior to their entering the promised land ,Moses highlighted to importance for courage :”Be courageous and strong.Do not be afraid or struck with terror before them,for Jehovah your God is the one marching with you. He will neither desert you nor abandon you.”(Deuteronomy 31:6) The Israelites were not fighting ordinary men, the land of Canaan that Jehovah had promised them was guarded by giants courage was needed .We also are at the outskirts of the new system of things.In order to inherited our “Promised Land” we will have to fight demons and their human counterparts.
What about the second test though ? That was about being alert to danger ,carefully watching for a sign of danger while drinking .We too have to remain awake .Jesus in his last moments before his arrest several times warned them to stay on the watch: ” Keep on the watch and pray continually,so that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit, of course, is eager,but the flesh is weak.”(Matt. 26:41) Why is the warning of being alert as important for us today ? Because the end will come suddenly ,without a warning ,like a trap. Jesus warned: ““But pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come upon all those dwelling on the face of the whole earth. Keep awake,then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that must occur and in standing before the Son of man.”(Luke 21:34-36)
With that story in mind ,of Gideon’s selection of the most suitable men for batlle ,the verse “many are called but few are chosen” should make more sense now .As vigilant Christians we should be building ourselves in courage and remain alert and pay attention to the ever changing scene of this world for signs of our Lord Jesus’ arrival.