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The Importance of Philosemitic Hymns Part 2 God’s Chosen People and His Unfailing Purposes for Israel and the Nations

The Torah is unequivocally clear that the Israelites are God’s chosen people and also states exactly why. Deuteronomy 7:7-9 explains, “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 14:2 reaffirms and develops the same truth mentioned above. “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”

It is evident that the Lord is a covenant keeping God and has a special love for His chosen people. This is reaffirmed in Deuteronomy 26:15 and 26:18 in the context of prayer, the land that He gave them and that they should keep His mitzvot (Commandments).

“Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the land which You have given us, just as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.”…”Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments.”

In the Brit Hadasha (New Testament), Paul in a speech resembling that of Moses in Exodus 32:32 recognises the Lord’s chosen people as the Israelites, who are his countrymen and their adoption, glory, covenants, giving of the law and service of God. Romans 9:3-5 recalls, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”

A Philosemitic Hymn

Recognising all the above truths, Agnes Scott Kent wrote a tremendous hymn encapsulating that in song:

God of the ancient Hebrew race

Lord of the Abrahamic Line,

Illumine us that we may trace,

Through Holy Writ Thy vast design.

God of the Jew! Remind us yet,

Lest we forget, lest we forget!

These are Thy Chosen People, Lord-

In them all nations shall be blessed

When Israel, redeemed, restored,

Within the Promised Land finds rest.

Thou hope of Zion, rouse us yet,

Lest we forget, lest we forget!

To them adoption doth pertain

The covenants, the glory, too;

The promises for aye remain;

The law was given-to the Jew.

God of the fathers, guard us yet,

Lest we forget, lest we forget!

The Holy Ghost moved men of old,

And they, with far prophetic view,

God’s great redemptive plan foretold:

The Book was written-by the Jew.

Spirit of Truth, O teach us yet,

Lest we forget, lest we forget!

God’s love, eternal as His name,

On them abides unchanging true-

Of David’s seed Messiah came

For Jesus Christ was born-a Jew!

Thou Son of God, forgive us yet,

Lest we forget, lest we forget!

In the fourth verse, Agnes Scott affirms the inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:19-21) and God’s plan of redemption for Jewish people and Gentiles (Romans 11). We are reminded that the Scriptures were written by Jewish authors with the exception of Luke who wrote Luke and Acts and that we should never forget that.

In Romans 11:1-2a Paul asks and answers the question as to whether somehow the Lord could have cast away His people. The response is emphatic! “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I am also and Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.”

In the last verse, Agnes Scott draws our attention to the Lord’s unfailing and unchanging character and relates that to the fact that His love for His people is true and lasting. Yeshua is the Messiah and Son of David and He was Jewish. How often we need to be reminded that not only the Scriptures are a Jewish book, but our Messiah is also.

Other Philosemitic Hymns

I found a couple of similar hymns on related themes in ‘Grace and Glory Hymnbook’. The first was by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) who impressed the thought, “Forgotten! No; that cannot be,” five times in the opening lines of the first five verses.

The sixth and concluding verse states:

Forgotten of the Lord thy God!

No, Israel, no, that cannot be,

He chose thee in the days of old

And still His favour rests on Thee.

Again, similarly P.W. Heward’s (1882-1948) Hymn commences:

God has a plan, and He will ne’er forget:

Israel His choice, will know His mercy yet.

His purpose stands, His love remains the same;

They shall be saved to praise His glorious name.

The second verse expounds the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah who was born in Israel.

The Lord of glory was mid Israel born,

He lived among them, mid the shame and scorn,

And then He died-the sacrifice-to save:

For sinners lost, His precious life He gave.

Verse 3 helps us to realise that if we love the God of Israel, then we must have a love for the land of Israel and the Jewish people; through what we do, our attitudes and in our testimony.

“And if you feel your need, and seek His face,

You too will know the wonders of His grace:

Your love to Him will love to Israel mean,

In loving deeds, and witness, to be seen.

The closing verse looks to a time when Messiah will return and Jewish people will recognise their Messiah. The Lord is a faithful covenant keeping God and He has kept His covenants with His chosen people. Whoever turns to and trusts Messiah can find salvation in Him.

And you will pray, and have that Day in view

When He shall come-for all His words are true,

And Israel’s remnant will His nation be,

Redeemed, when they their pierced Messiah see!