Sounds like: bakhar (verb) & bakheer/vakheer (noun).
I have very rarely promoted anything on this blog, outside of the learning and reading of Biblical Hebrew (which you should all go and do, by the way!!), but I have been captivated by a little (yet gloriously big) show called The Chosen.
I’m usually very (and I mean VERY) hesitant about any media event regarding the Bible. There have been some pretty fantastically bad renditions of the Holy Scripture in film and television, but this show…it stands apart. It is different, and in the best possible way different can be. In fact there is a line in the show, that Yeshua says to Simon Peter, which has become a catch-phrase for fans: Get Used to Different!
The plan of the producers of the show is that it will be a multi-season telling of the Gospel. It is not a 100% scripturally accurate presentation because it is not trying to tell the biography of Yeshua (Jesus) according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Rather it cleverly tells the story of those who followed Him. We are presented with delightful back-stories of those whose lives were changed, by the Messiah they had been waiting for, with a particular focus (in season 1) on Mary Magdalen, Simon Peter, Nicodemus the Pharisee, and Matthew the tax-collector (and later Gospel writer). Although these back-stories are fictitious, they are well placed in a strong, historically sensitive, interpretation of the era: Jewish culture living under Roman oppression in first century Israel. Shabbat is represented, cleansing laws are observed, we get to hear the Shema, and there is even properly scripted Hebrew graffiti on the walls.
As we all separate ourselves from the world during this global health crisis, you might find this a touching distraction. If it sounds up your alley, download the app for free to get started (thechosen.tv/watchnow), or if you’re still unsure, check out this short preview:
What the show has yet to do, however, is tell you what the Hebrew word for Chosen is, and its importance in the Tanakh (OT) and the B’rit Chadashah (NT)… and so I will remedy that here.
The noun chosen, (bakhir/vakhir), comes out of the verb bakhar, to choose, and it has a signifiant footprint in Scripture. It’s a theme that runs like a ribbon throughout the entire story of humanity, presented in the Bible, from Abraham in the Torah to the time of Paul and the early Church.
Isaiah 41:8-10 (See also Isaiah 44:1-6)
YHWH: “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen [b’khar’tika], descendant of Abraham My friend, you whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you [attah b’khar’tika] and not rejected you. Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”
All the children of God, those who follow His path just as Jacob did, are His chosen ones. He has not rejected us, but we have the right to reject Him, and remove ourselves out of His chosen collection, if we want to. But if we stay, we will be upheld and strengthened by YHWH, and we can live fearlessly! That’s what being Chosen is all about!
God Chose David & Jerusalem
Of course, of all of God’s chosen humans, David stands out:
2 Chronicles 6:5-6
“Since the day that I brought My people from the land of Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man for a leader over My people Israel; but I have chosen Jerusalem [wa-ehv’khar be-Yerushalim] that My name might be there, and I have chosen David [wa-ehv’khar b-David] to be over My people Israel.”
Israel was a nation long before there was a human ruler in Jerusalem. But God did eventually choose David to be leader, and He chose the place of Jerusalem to be his “home base” (if you will) on the planet earth.
Jerusalem has a particularly hard hit history. When the Babylonians sieged Jerusalem, in 597 BC, it seemed like all was lost. They utterly destroyed the city, left it in ruins, and hauled the people away from their sacred city. But God was watching:
Thus says YHWH of hosts, “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion. But I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster.”
Therefore thus says YHWH, “I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it,” declares YHWH of hosts, “and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.”
Again, proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says YHWH of hosts, “My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and YHWH will again comfort Zion and again choose [u-vakhar] Jerusalem.”’
The Babylonian invasion had ripped Jerusalem out of the hands of the Israelites, but YHWH promised to bring them back. And He promised that His house would be rebuilt.
And that is exactly what happened. In quite a surprising turn of events, the Jewish people were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple:
“Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen [bakhar’ti] to cause My name to dwell.’ They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand.”
Jerusalem was destroyed again, by the Romans, in 70 AD. It wasn’t until 1948 that it was returned to the Jewish people, but only after a living through (or dying in) a monumentally horrific experience: the Holocaust.
Jewish People: The Chosen Ones
The Jewish people have often been called The Chosen Ones… and this title has painted a target on their back. At the root of racism is pride: What makes them so special? What makes them more special than me? Who do they think they are?
They were special because God chose them for a specific purpose. God needed a family, and they were given the job… and it wasn’t an easy one. In fact, being “chosen” would come with some terrible consequences throughout history.
The truth was, humans messed up in the Garden of Eden. The Kingdom of the Garden was open and free for them to live and grow in. There was only one thing they were asked not to do. Just one thing. And so they did it; they ate from the forbidden tree, and in doing so, they cursed themselves… and they banished themselves from the Garden of Eden.
But this was not what God wanted. He wanted humans to be able to be Garden Folk… people of the Garden… so He put a plan in place to get them back to where they belonged. At the crux of this plan, there would be a Sacrifice.
And so YHWH picked a family through which the sacrifice would come. God made a covenant with Abraham. Abraham’s family would flourish in a land promised to them, and there would be a descendent from this family who would redeem them. From the Chosen family, the Anointed Saviour would come… and God would love them for it.
Deuteronomy 7:6-9 (See also Deuteronomy 14:2)
“For you are a holy people to YHWH your God; YHWH your God has chosen [bakhar] you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
YHWH did not set His love on you nor choose [wa-yiv’khar] you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because YHWH loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, YHWH brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that YHWH your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
Along Abraham’s line there would be an anointed king who would be a marker, reflecting the Anointed (Messiah) King to come. David was the young man, a descendant of Abraham, from the line of Judah, who YHWH chose to carry the Kingdom forward. The Messiah would come from David’s seed:
2 Samuel 7:12-14a
YHWH to David: “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a Father to him and he will be a Son to Me…”
YHWH had chosen David to be His servant, with whom He would make the most profound covenant. Through David’s seed God’s love would save humanity and bring on the Kingdom:
I will sing of the lovingkindness of YHWH forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever; in the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.” I have made a covenant with My chosen [v’rit li-v’khiri]; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations.”
Early in his kingship, Solomon, David’s heir, understood that he was just one child in YHWH’s vast chosen family:
1 Kings 3:7-9
Solomon’s Prayer: “Now, O YHWH my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen [bakhar’ta], a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?”
Solomon wisely asked for an understanding heart to discern between good and evil. He truly wanted to be a solid, God-honouring, king. But it wasn’t just about knowing the difference between good and bad; it was about seeking God, remembering His deeds, and relying on the Covenantal promises He made to them:
1 Chronicles 16:11-16 (see also Psalm 105:4-9)
Seek YHWH and His strength; seek His face continually. Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth, O seed of Israel His servant, sons of Jacob, His chosen ones [b’khiraw]!
He is YHWH our God; His judgments are in all the earth. Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac.
God’s Chosen One in Whom His Soul Delights
YHWH: “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; my Chosen One [b’khiri] in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”
Thus says God YHWH, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it, “I am YHWH, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.
I am YHWH, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”
YHWH’s Chosen One was the promised covenantal Messiah. In the days of Yeshua (Jesus) the Jewish people were very much aware of what the Messiah was, but not who He was. As a nation they had been waiting for this Anointed Saviour. This Messiah would rescue them from their oppressors, and in first century Israel their oppressor was Rome. If the Messiah showed up at this point in time, certainly He would rise up as a powerful, militant, ruler and wipe out Rome swiftly and mercilessly.
Yeshua was not the kind of Messiah the people were looking for. He couldn’t possibly be the Chosen One for whom they had waited all their lives. Certainly, they thought, this nomadic rabbi must be an imposter… a blasphemer who should die for his crime:
When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him [Jesus] and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Messiah of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
God had made a covenant with His people: there would be a sacrifice so they could return to the Garden. Yeshua couldn’t “save Himself” because there was only one thing He couldn’t do: break God’s promise. He was the Lamb of God who would die at Passover with all the other sacrificial lambs in Jerusalem.
And so the Chosen One died, a very horrific death, swallowing up the sins of the people, and cleansing them so they could come face to face with God in the Garden when our day on earth was done. With the cleansing over, Yeshua broke the chains of death, defeated it, and returned. He didn’t just cleanse us to be in the presence of YHWH once; He defeated death so we could stay with YHWH for eternity. That is Heaven.
But Yeshua didn’t just die and resurrect for the Jewish people; He died and returned for everyone!
“Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares YHWH. “Many nations will join themselves to YHWH in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that YHWH of hosts has sent Me to you. YHWH will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose [u-vakhar] Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before YHWH; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.”
Through Zechariah God declared that MANY NATIONS would join themselves to YHWH and become HIS PEOPLE. Even the Messiah knew that His purpose was to be a light for ALL nations. Here was the Messiah’s words, according to the prophet Isaiah:
Messiah: And now says YHWH, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (for I am honoured in the sight of YHWH, and My God is My strength), He says,
“It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Thus says YHWH, the Redeemer of Israel and its Holy One, to the despised One, to the One abhorred by the nation, to the Servant of rulers, “Kings will see and arise, princes will also bow down, because of YHWH who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You [wa-yiv’khareka].”
Yeshua died to be a light for EVERY human. If we choose Him, He will choose us!
Paul was very much on board with promoting equality between Jew and Gentile. Once the Jews were the only Chosen, but now with Yeshua’s sacrifice, all who chose to be, could be part of YHWH’s Chosen People:
Paul: …there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Messiah is all, and in all.
So, as those who have been CHOSEN of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Messiah rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
And so we can be a chosen one of YHWH, if we choose YHWH.
“Now, therefore, fear YHWH and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve YHWH. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve YHWH, choose [bakh’aru] for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve YHWH.”
How incredible that, by our choice, we are His chosen ones. He redeemed us, He has called us by name, and if we answer the call, we belong to Him:
Isaiah 43:1-3a, 10-13, 18-21 (See also Isaiah 65:8-23)
But now, thus says YHWH, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am YHWH your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour….
…“You are My witnesses,” declares YHWH, “And My servant whom I have chosen [bakhar’ti], so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am YHWH, and there is no saviour besides Me. It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed, and there was no strange god among you; so you are My witnesses,” declares YHWH, “And I am God. Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?”…
…“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will glorify Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen [v’khiri] people. The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise.”
Everyone, and I mean everyone, regardless of nationality, race, or religion was formed and created by God to be His chosen people. As Yeshua said in his parable of the wedding feast, “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
Truth is we are all called, but we are only chosen if we respond to the call… and not just respond, but actually be obedient. It’s up to us! This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, but we have to be continually striving to be good children: children who listen, and love… who have a relationship with their heavenly Parent.
The Inheritance of the Chosen
As The Chosen children we have an incredible inheritance!
Psalm 33:12-15, 20-22 (see also Psalm 106:4-5)
Blessed is the nation whose God is YHWH, the people whom He has chosen [bakhar] for His own inheritance. YHWH looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men; from His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works…
…Our soul waits for YHWH; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O YHWH, be upon us, according as we have hoped in You.
An inheritance of eternal life in the Garden with our Creator was only made possible by the great Sacrifice of Yeshua. As children of God, He, as the Son of God, is our greatest example to follow:
So when He [Jesus] had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I do not speak of all of you.
I know the ones I have CHOSEN; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.”
When Yeshua was speaking these words, it was at the last Passover meal that He would share with His disciples. The disciples were those He specifically chose to follow Him during His mission, and we know that there was more than just twelve disciples. He did specifically choose twelve to be His closest companions, and that number was chosen, almost certainly to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. However, there were many other disciples including women (Luke 8:2-3), such as Mary Magdalen, Susanna, and Joanna (Luke 24:10).
But one of Yeshua’s chosen twelve, chose to reject Him. ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Just after this passage, Yeshua announced that one of His disciples would betray Him, and Judas was revealed as the one who would lift up his heel against Him and strike Him down.
These strange words ‘lifted up his heel against Me’ comes from the very first prophecy presented in the Bible. Just after Eve tells God that she was deceived by the serpent in the Garden, God made this prophetic statement:
The YHWH God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall strike you on the head,
And you shall strike him on the heel.”
The Adversary would take a fatal blow to the head, but not without doing some damage himself. Victory would come at a cost. Yeshua would go to the Roman cross and die.
Yeshua was betrayed and rejected by someone that He had considered a close companion… one of the chosen twelve. Judas’s betrayal would come to represent all who have rejected YHWH. We must be careful not to be a chosen one who turns on their God. A kiss, normally a sign of affection, was distorted and became a betrayal… and it only took thirty pieces of silver to buy Judas’s affection and twist it into affliction.
Fortunately we have a God who loves us and wants the very best for us! He is on our side! But it’s probably fair to say that none of us have a perfect relationship with God. For most of us, we have to say, “it’s complicated,” but what’s not complicated is His overwhelming love for us:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s CHOSEN?
God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Messiah Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Messiah? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah Jesus our Lord.
What an incredible, powerful, loving, God we have. And all we have to do is choose Him.
The beautiful thing is, choosing God is choosing Life:
YHWH: “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love YHWH your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that YHWH your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it.
But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life [u-vakhar’ti ba-khayyim] in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving YHWH your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which YHWH swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
We have a huge, but rather simple, choice to make: choose life or choose death. It’s a pretty easy choice, so what’s holding you back?
Choose Life and be the CHOSEN people you were meant to be:
1 Peter 2:9-10a
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are THE People of God…
Next week: Crushed