The Freest Love
“Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.” (Deuteronomy 10:14–15)
God’s electing love — the love by which he chooses a people for himself — is absolutely free. It is the gracious overflow of his boundless happiness guided by his infinite wisdom.
Deuteronomy 10:14–15 describes the delight God had in choosing Israel from all the peoples of the earth. Notice two things.
First, notice the contrast between verses 14 and 15. Why does Moses describe the election of Israel against the backdrop of God’s ownership of the whole universe? Why does he say in verse 14, “To God belongs everything in heaven and on earth” and then say in verse 15, “Yet he chose you for his people”?
The reason seems to be to get rid of any notion that God was somehow boxed in to choose this people — that there were some limits to his choosing and he was somehow forced to choose them. The point is to explode the pagan idea that a god may have the right and authority to have his own people but no more.
The truth is that Yahweh is the only true God. He owns everything in the universe and has the right and authority to take any people he wants for his own special possession.
Thus the unspeakably wonderful truth for Israel is that he chose them. He did not have to. He had rights and privileges to choose absolutely any people on the face of the earth for his redeeming purposes. Or all of them. Or none of them.
Therefore, when he calls himself “their God” he does not mean that he is on a par with the gods of Egypt or the gods of Canaan. He owns those gods and their peoples. If it had pleased him, he could have chosen a totally different people to accomplish his purposes.
The point of putting verses 14 and 15 together in this way is to stress the freedom and the universal rights and authority of God.
The second thing to notice (in verse 15) is the way God exercises his sovereign freedom to “set his heart in love on your fathers.” “He delighted in your fathers to love them.” He freely chose to take pleasure in loving the fathers.
God’s love for the fathers of Israel was free and merciful and wasn’t constrained by anything that the fathers were in their Jewishness or in their virtue.
This is a lesson for us. For us who are believers in Christ, God has chosen us just as freely. Not because of anything in us, but because God simply delighted to do it.