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It is Enough to be an Israelite, But Enough for What?, Part 3
Here we shall continue our presentation and critique of Bertrand Comparet’s sermon, Is it Enough Merely to be an Israelite?, but doing so I will probably have to repeat myself at least a few times. That is because Comparet opened his sermon by criticizing Paul of Tarsus in Romans chapter 11, where Paul had properly paraphrased the prophet Isaiah and said “all Israel shall be saved”, yet Paul was speaking of the salvation of the spirit and eternal life, within the context that temporal salvation may not be attained, whereas all of the examples by which Comparet attempts to refute him relate only to the temporal salvation of the flesh or the nation. Disagreeing with Paul where he said “All Israel shall be saved”, Comparet mentioned not one of the many promises of eternal salvation, resurrection, or redemption from death and the grave which are found in either the Old or New Testaments. He only mentioned Isaiah 45:17 while criticizing Paul, and neglected to note Isaiah 45:25, or perhaps he may have realized that he could not have justly criticized Paul.
But Comparet was a trained attorney, and an attorney is never going to introduce evidence which hurts his case. Here he has tried to make a case that Paul of Tarsus was wrong, and that all Israel shall not be saved, and it is our endeavor to defend Paul and his statement. So now, as he continues, while there are indeed many good ideas found throughout his sermon, he only provides examples, some of them quite lengthy, of temporal punishment and temporary deliverance. But those examples do not relate to any of the promises of eternal salvation found in Scripture, and it seems as if, at least in this sermon, Comparet completely failed to distinguish between the two, and to rightly divide the Word of Truth.
So, from where we left off in part 2 of this presentation, we shall now continue with Comparet:
Some of you are now wondering what you can do. We have learned about all this responsibility, now what is expected of us? Are we to change the course of history and make nations behave or other huge spectacular things? No, only in a very few of these many generations has anybody reached this point. Yahweh has a way of bringing about His purposes through people who don't seem to be outstanding, but just the same in their own quiet way, are doing the jobs that Yahweh put them here to do. These are the people who are the real elect out of Israel.
Here it seems as if Comparet is attempting to encourage his listeners to do something, and what things he would encourage them to do are found sprinkled throughout the remainder of the sermon. While there is nothing drastic, he nevertheless suggests on several occasions that they may be part of something more significant if they do certain things, and he leaves them with that hope. So where he says that Yahweh “has a way of bringing about His purposes through people who don't seem to be outstanding”, we would rather cite the apostles James (James 4:6) or Peter (1 Peter 5:5), each of whom quoted verbatim from the Septuagint version of Proverbs chapter 3 (3:34) and said, as the citation from James appears in the King James Version, that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
But even the most humble are not any more elect than are the rest of the children of Israel. As we have often stated, the last twenty-six chapters of the prophet Isaiah were addressed to the Israelites in captivity in Assyria. Most, if not all of them, would live their lives never having heard of either Yahweh or Isaiah, but the words were written so that the children of Israel would have them once they accepted the Gospel of Christ. Therefore, in Isaiah chapter 45, we read: “4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” So even those of Israel who have not known Yahweh are nevertheless of His elect, and of His servants. These were the sinners, and the children of sinners, who were pagans which had abandoned Yahweh even long before they were taken off into Assyrian captivity, and even in that most lowly state, they, all of them, were nevertheless His elect.
In the Old Testament Hebrew, the word בחיר, or bachir (972), appears in 13 verses. In the King James Version it is translated as chosen or elect. Of those 13, on 3 occasions it is used of chosen individuals, of Saul (2 Samuel 21:6), David (Psalm 89:4) and Moses (Psalm 106:23). But on the other 10 occasions, all of them in the Psalms or in those last twenty-six chapters of Isaiah, it is used to describe the children of Israel, and refers to all of the children of Israel without exception (Psalms 105:6, 43; 106:5; and Isaiah 42:1; 43:20; 45:4; 65:9, 15, 22). So there is no just basis in Scripture to exclude any Israelite from any special club of the “real elect”, or to imagine that any man may become one of some “real elect” by the value of his own actions, as they are all of the same body of the elect so long as they are Israelites. While the word elect appears only four times in the King James Version, all of them in Isaiah and all of them from this word bachir, the word chosen appears 89 times in the King James Old Testament, and only 9 of them are from this word, while the other 80 are from either variations of this word, or from other words. But these 13 examples are sufficient for our purposes here, and we will only read two of our examples:
In the 106th Psalm we read: “3 Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. 4 Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; 5 That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance. [The three phrases ae Hebrew parallelisms. The chosen, nation and inheritance are all Israel.] 6 We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.” There it is evident that the children of Israel are the elect of Yahweh in spite of their sins, and not on account of their own righteousness.
In Isaiah chapter 43 we read: “20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. 21 This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. 22 But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.” So the children of Israel are the chosen even when they are in apostasy from Yahweh. Later, in Isaiah chapter 45, as we have already seen, Yahweh calls Israel His elect even though they had not known Him.
Continuing with Comparet:
I have taught you before how in the Hebrew different words are used, with very different meaning, which have been lost by inaccurate translation into English. When the entire nation of Israel was spoken of, the Hebrew word edah was used. When the select leadership group was spoken of, the ones upon whom Yahweh could rely, those who had the spiritual capacity to respond to Him, when these were spoken of a very different word was used, kawhawl. In the King James Bible, both edah (ed-daw) and kaw-hawl are sometimes translated congregation, and sometimes assembly. There is no attempt to preserve a distinction between them and no comprehension on the part of the translators that there is any distinction.
The Hebrew word קהל, or qahal (6951), as a verb, is generally to assemble, or as a noun it is generally an assembly. The Hebrew word עדה, or edah (5712), is a congregation, and properly “a company assembled together by appointment or acting concertedly”, according to the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon. There are also several other words which may mean assembly or to assemble, such as עצרה, atsarah (6116) or יעד, yad (3259) which Comparet neglects to mention here. Another word, מועד or מעד, mowad or moad (4150), is congregation in the sense of a meeting or appointed place, but that is also how edah was often used. All languages have synonyms with only obscure or colloquially irrelevant differences in meaning between them, and Hebrew is not an exception.
In Leviticus chapter 8 we read: “4 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” There the word qahal was translated as a verb, gathered, and the noun edah as assembly. In the Septuagint Greek, the words are rendered as ἐκκλησιάζω, a verb formed from the noun ἐκκλησία or assembly, and συναγωγή, or synagogue, a Greek word which described a bringing together or assembly, and which had often referred to the place of assembly, according to Liddell & Scott. That is the use of the word where it appears in the New Testament. Now we shall examine whether Comparet’s distinction between the two words, the synonyms qahal and edah, is substantiated in Scripture.
First, in Exodus chapter 12 we read, concerning the Passover, speaking of the lamb: “6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” There, qahal is assembly, and edah is congregation, but in the context of the first Passover after the Exodus, qahal must refer to every Israelite head of household and not to only a select few. Otherwise, only a few select would have survived the Passover by painting their door lintels with blood.
In Exodus chapter 16 we read, where Moses and Aaron are being addressed: “3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” There the word for assembly is qahal, and once again it must refer to all of the children of Israel, and not just a select few, or perhaps only the elite would have starved, those whom Comparet described as a “select leadership group … the ones upon whom Yahweh could rely, those who had the spiritual capacity to respond to Him”, rather than the common sinners. So right there in one verse, Comparet’s definition of the word fails miserably.
In Numbers chapter 14, after the spies sent into the land of Canaan had reported back to describe the Nephilim which they had seen, we read: “1 And all the congregation [edah] lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation [edah] said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! 3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? 4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. 5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly [qahal] of the congregation [edah] of the children of Israel. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: 7 And they spake unto all the company [edah] of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.”
In the context of that passage, all of the children of Israel, without exception, are “all the assembly of the congregation”, and “all the children of Israel” who murmured, and “the whole congregation” who preferred to return to Egypt rather than face the Nephilim in battle, and “all the company” addressed by Moses and Aaron. The words for assembly and congregation are qahal and edah, and they are used in slightly different ways, but the distinction between them is not the same as the distinction which Comparet has made. In his Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, Gesenius defined qahal as “congregation, assembly…. Especially the congregation of the children of Israel…” Then, primarily, he defined edah to mean “an appointed meeting, an assembly, specially – the congregation of the Israelites…” So Gesenius saw no other distinction between the two terms, and neither can we.
For one final example, in Judges chapter 20 we read: “2 And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.” There the assembly, where the word is qahal, is contrasted to the chief men of Israel, where the chief men are described as presenting themselves in the qahal. So the qahal is not the elite of the people, or some “real elect”, but rather it is the general mass of the people. So Comparet’s distinction is a false one.
The qahal of the Old Testament were not an elite few, but rather, the word was used to describe the entire congregation of Israel which was assembled at any given time. Sometimes that was a small portion of Israel, and sometimes it was every single adult male, or sometimes, every single Israelite. Comparet seems to have been following a modern Jewish use of the term, rather than understand it as it appears in Scripture. But now, as he continues, Comparet exploits his faulty definition of the term in order to ingratiate his listeners:
You people are a part of that kaw-hawl, but what sort of things can you do? I wish to point out that Yahweh has used the most insignificant of people to accomplish some pretty great things. About 892 B.C., the Syrian king Ben-hadad with an enormous army, besieged the city of Samaria. This was the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel. Ben-hadad stood there besieging Samaria until there was extreme famine in the city. Israel was at the point of starvation; all food they had was eaten up. The Syrian army was so enormously greater than the army of Israel, cooped up in Samaria, that they didn't dare go out and meet Syria in battle. II Kings chapter 7 records the events which happened.
The truth is, so long as one is an Israelite he, or she, is part of the qahal of Yahweh. Comparet evidently wants his listeners to feel special. But we will continue with Comparet’s example:
The prophet Elisha was there in Samaria. Here they were, surrounded by this enormous army. The Syrian army could live off the countryside. Their foraging parties were going out, wherever food existed, scooping it up and supplying the troops. They weren't short of anything. It was only the people in Samaria that were reduced to starvation. Elisha said this, “Thus saith Yahweh, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.” That measure was about two quarts, and you couldn't have bought a measure of flour for ten thousand shekels in this besieged and starving city of Samaria. So, “tomorrow about this time a measure of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria. Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of Yahweh, and said, Behold, if Yahweh would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” And Elisha said, “Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not eat thereof.” When we challenge Yahweh in this way, we have taken on ourselves a big contest, and we are apt to lose it. “And there were four lepers at the entering in of the gate…”
Here Comparet has been quoting from 2 Kings chapter 7, and now he responds with a detailed description of the lepers, which is a digression, and he says:
From the earliest dawn of history, leprosy has been regarded with special horror, no cure for it was known. Of all diseases it is the most spectacular, the victims literally rot away while they are still alive. The victims reach the point where joints of their fingers rot and fall off, because the disease has destroyed the circulation system of the body. While they are still living, bit-by-bit their bodies die and fall apart, a spectacular, horrible sight. Anyone who contracted leprosy was driven out, they couldn't enter into the city or into a camp, and they had to live outside the city apart from everybody. These poor victims couldn't engage in commerce, as nobody would buy anything they had touched for fear this dreaded disease would be carried with it. From a safe distance people might toss the lepers a coin, this was all that was left to them of their lives.
This is all fine, but it does not have any bearing on eternal salvation, even for lepers. So now he returns to 2 Kings and continues citing chapter 7 from where he left off:
“And there were four lepers at the entering of the gate: and they said one to another, why sit we here until we die? If we say, we will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore come, and let us fall into the host of the Syrians: if they save us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall die. And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the outermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there. For Yahweh had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great army: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us. Whereupon they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. And when these lepers came to the outermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and did eat and drink, and carried away thence silver, and gold, and raiment, and hid it… Then they said one to another, We are not doing well: this is a day of good tidings, and do we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king's household.”
We shall reserve our own comments, as Comparet goes on to describe for himself what happened next, and he says:
The lepers went to the gate of the besieged city. They had a tough time getting the guards to let them in but they had terrific news. They demanded to be taken to the king. Finally the lepers were taken to the king and the king of Israel wouldn't believe their story. As long as it was daylight, the king could see a few hundred yards away, the camp of this mighty Syrian army. Now, a little before midnight in came these lepers saying that the whole Syrian army has disappeared. The king was too smart; he wasn't going to fall for a trap like this. Finally the lepers persuaded the king to send two scouts out, to go to the camp to see whether the Syrians were really gone. The scouts discovered it was just as the lepers had reported. The Syrians had fled in such panic and disorder; they left their food, weapons and everything else behind. Here was a deserted camp.
Remember the nobleman who sneered at this. “Could Yahweh do this, even if he opened the windows of heaven to drop this down to us?” Morning came and the people prepared to rush out to the camp of the Syrians. Everybody was hungry and they knew there was food out there. It had been weeks since anybody had a good meal, and it had been several days since most of them had any food at all. Here was a wild mob, ready to storm out at first daybreak. This nobleman, who had sneered at the idea, was at the gate. The moment the gate swung open, out came a terrific rush of people who trampled him to death. He saw the coming of it, but didn't get to eat of it. Who could have been found, in all the nation of Israel, more insignificant than these four lepers? They weren't important landholders or farmers, they weren't businessmen, and they weren't statesmen. They were just four poor outcast lepers.
Evidently, Comparet used the account of the four lepers in order to encourage his own listeners that they, being humble or of lowly estate, may nevertheless do something great for Israel. There are better examples where the humble chosen by Yahweh for a particular task did have good intentions, such as King David, who was the youngest of his father’s sons and a lowly shepherd. Christ Himself was born into the household of a common carpenter.
But here we must note that the four lepers did not do anything noble on their own, and had no special care for the people of Israel. They initially only acted to preserve their own lives by going over to the Syrians. Then when they found the camp of the Syrians was empty, as it is described, the thought of informing the people of the city was only an afterthought on the part of one of them, whose conscience was evidently burdened because he feared that they might suffer evil for not bringing the news. So once again, even then he was only thinking of himself. Therefore while Yahweh used the four lepers to save the rest of the city, the lepers did not act in pursuit of a noble cause, but only for their own self-preservation. The real lesson with the lepers is that Yahweh may grant Israel salvation even through the hands of sinners, and in spite of the desires and motives of men.
Now Comparet moves on to yet another example from an even much earlier event:
Because of their apostasy, Yahweh allowed the twelve tribed nation of Israel to be conquered and ruled by the kingdom of Midian for seven years. During this time Israel was pretty badly treated. Then Yahweh commissioned Gideon to save Israel. Gideon said, “Who am I that I should save Israel? My father's family is unimportant in one of the smaller tribes, and I am the least of my family.”
Here Comparet had paraphrased Judges 6:15, and now he responds and says:
He was doubtful he was worthy of this task. Gideon asked for a sign, a test whether this was true or not. He said, “I am going to leave a sheep's fleece out overnight, and if this thing is really true, tomorrow morning let there be dew on the fleece, but none on the ground around it.” The following morning this is the way it was, dew was on the fleece but nowhere else. Gideon was still skeptical; he wanted another demonstration of a miracle. He asked that on the next morning there would be dew on the ground, all around the fleece and no dew on the fleece. Yahweh was patient; He had picked Gideon to do this job. He knew how astonished Gideon was, because it was a job Gideon couldn't do. Gideon didn't realize that Yahweh was going to do the job Himself; He had just picked Gideon to get the credit for it. The second day Gideon got the sign he had asked for, and then he had the courage to come out and lead Israel.
Here Comparet paraphrased from Judges 6:37, and described what things happened thereafter. Now, continuing with the account in Judges chapter 7, citing the opening verses he says:
Gideon gathered together an army of 32,000 men “… and Yahweh said to Gideon, the people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.” Yahweh told Gideon to send all the cowards home. 22,000 out of 32,000 of the army went home, and then Gideon was really afraid to go into battle. This business of raising a volunteer army isn't as easy as it might seem. They had to have draft laws in those days also.
Here Comparet seems to have made a quip concerning the draft laws since for much of the time during the course of his ministry, which overlapped the Vietnam War, the draft was a controversial political issue in the United States. So continuing he says:
There were 10,000 left of Gideon's army. Yahweh told Gideon this was still too many soldiers. Gideon was then told by Yahweh to take the troops down to the creek for a drink. Some will bend down and lap up the water directly from the creek. Others will scoop up the water in their hands and drink the water out of their hands. Yahweh then instructed Gideon to only keep the soldiers that lapped the water directly from the creek; these were going to be his army. There were only 300 out of the 10,000 that did this. Yahweh told Gideon to send the other 9,700 home.
Here Comparet had confused this episode. The three hundred men who were kept were those who took the water up in their hands. Thusly we read in Judges chapter 7: “6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.” In other words, all the rest of the people got on their knees and had apparently sucked the water directly from the source, probably a creek or a pond, and they were sent home. Continuing with Comparet:
Here was the Midianite nation, militarily powerful enough to have conquered and ruled for seven years, the entire nation of Israel. Yahweh told Gideon, “Three hundred men are all that you shall take into battle.” [Paraphrasing Judges 7:7] You know what Gideon was told to do. The Midianites were camped in a huge camp and Gideon still had some misgivings. He was worried when he had 32,000 men, now he had only 300. There were thousands of soldiers out there in the camp of Midian. Yahweh said, “If you still have doubts, you sneak down in the darkness till you come to the edge of the camp, and see what you observe.” [Paraphrasing Judges 7:10-11.] So Gideon sneaked up within hearing distance of one of the tents, some of the soldiers were talking there. One of them said, “I had the strangest dream... I saw a loaf of barley bread come rolling down a hill into this camp, it knocked down tents right and left, it was smashing the whole camp.” Then another soldier said, “That is an omen from God: that barley loaf represents Gideon and his men, it shows we are going to be defeated.”
Comparet embellished somewhat on the substance of the soldier’s dream, but verses 7 through 11 of Judges chapter 7 were paraphrased within reason. So now he continues to describe what happened in his own words, and says:
The other events hadn't quite convinced Gideon, but this did. He went back and got his 300 men. The lamps that were in use in those days looked much different from what we would use today. They looked like a small and rather flat, shallow teapot. There was a little handle on one end, and then there was the central part that held the oil. In the spout of the teapot there was a cloth wick down into the oil. When you wanted light the cloth wick was lit. Yahweh told Gideon that each of his men were to have a lamp, then to light it. Then to get an earthen pot, and put the lamp in the bottom of the pot, so that the light of it can't be seen. Then 300 men can surround about three sides of the camp of Midian. Gideon was instructed to sneak up on the Midian troops in the darkness, and then suddenly, when he gave the signal, every man would smash this earthenware pot. All at once the Midianites will see this circle of light surrounding them and every man will shout, the sword of Yahweh and of Gideon!
It would be a startling event to be awakened out of your sleep this way, wouldn't it? Especially after you have been already told in a dream you were going to be defeated. This sudden noise and show of lights certainly startled these Midianites. In their panic, the Midianites jumped up, they didn't know whether the army of Gideon was already among them. It was dark in the camp. Whoever found another man scurrying around near him, supposedly an enemy; he slashed at him with his sword. The Midianites killed about half of their own army in this way, the rest fled in panic. It didn't take a leader of an enormous army, statesman, or a man of importance. Here was a man who wasn't even among the important members of his own family. To paraphrase a little, Yahweh commanded Gideon, “You go out and do your job, and see what the results are to be, for I will take care of that part of it.” Moffatt's translation of 1 Samuel 14:6, is especially good and clear. "...The Eternal never has any difficulty about delivering his people, by means of many or by means of few."
Actually, as the account reads in Judges chapters 7 and 8, we learn that by the time Gideon had assembled an army and had caught up with the fleeing Midianites, there were only 15,000 left, and 120,000 had fallen in the manner in which Comparet described [Judges 8:10]. Now where he continues, he persists in his confusion of the word qahal. Note that in the story of Gideon, none of the men chosen to go to the camp of the Midianites were chosen because they were leaders or because they had any special skills. They may have drank of the water more sensibly, but that does not necessarily mark them as leaders or as having special abilities, or even as having greater faith in Yahweh. But Comparet seems to suggest that where he ingratiates his listeners once again and he says:
As far as the leadership group (kaw-hawl) is concerned, you aren't usually being required to do great and heroic things; this isn't the way Yahweh generally does it. Our job is to live up to our ideals. Our job is to be somebody Yahweh can depend upon to see that these ideals are not lost before the next generation comes along. What about the great masses of people? We couldn't interest them. We could talk about this day and night for the rest of our lives, if we could compel them to stay and listen. We wouldn't make any converts, and they too are born Israelites. What is their part in the scheme of events? Their part is that it took a nation to demonstrate what Yahweh wanted to have proven here on earth. If Yahweh had sent a few angels down here to live in perfect personal conduct, and to use their tremendous angelic powers to put down trouble whenever it came in the world, what would it have proven? For most of humanity, nothing. Yahweh would have proven that angels were a different order of being from ourselves. He would have proven angels have different powers and capacities and they can get results we can't. As far as people are concerned, it wouldn't prove anything to them.
As he implies here, we would first disagree with Comparet on the function of the so-called United States of America, which has not been a righteous nation, and which has not fought its wars for any righteous reasons, all throughout its history. But apparently Comparet thought so, and therefore in that area he was deceived.
But going back to his example of Gideon, none of what Comparet had said can be justly concluded from the story of Gideon which Comparet has used here as his example of temporal salvation. The three hundred did not know the consequences of whether they drank the water from their hands, or put their faces into the river like beasts. So they did nothing conscious of themselves to attain any victory or to acquire any special role. The three hundred were not leaders, and there is no evidence that they were recognized as leaders after the battle was over. Gideon was not a leader to begin with, and he was quite surprised that Yahweh would ever consider him, as Comparet had also explained, although he did remain a judge in Israel for forty years afterwards. But here Comparet is ingratiating his listeners once again, by trying to convince them that they are leaders and that they are special above other Christians, even if they are of a humble estate, and he has no real basis by which to make that distinction. Continuing, now Comparet wrongly associates the elect with his peculiar and errant definition of the Hebrew word qahal:
Suppose Yahweh just took the elect, those that He calls kaw-hawl in the Old Testament, and didn't bother producing any other people in Israel. This would prove Yahweh had a few favorites and that He took good care of them. It would also prove He rewarded them greatly. Then the ordinary people would wonder what does this prove about me. I'm not special and can't do what these others can do, I don't get any special favors from Yahweh. What has been proven? For them nothing would have been proven. There had to be a nation in which the ordinary dumb person could live better than the people of other, non-Israel nations. This wouldn't be because they had brains to accomplish this, because they never had, but because he at least had good sense enough to follow those few who constitute Yahweh's elect, the kaw-hawl. Then these ordinary people were led into obedience to Yahweh's laws, this is what the nation was for.
Here Comparet offers the premise that “ordinary dumb” Israelites only lived well because they had followed some random elite group who kept the law, and by that they had learned to keep it themselves. That is actually an arrogant position, and he is actually abusing his own bad definitions to create artificial distinctions within the Old Testament congregation of Israel. If he had Scriptural evidence that these distinctions were truly valid, he would not have employed the story of Gideon as his example. Gideon had no special faith. He was actually stubborn, and he needed to witness three miracles, two with the fleece and another with the dream of the Syrian soldier, before he was finally convinced that Yahweh was true. So perhaps he was chosen because he had less faith than other men. His three hundred soldiers didn’t necessarily have any special faith, and they weren’t necessarily without any sin. They were braver than the 22,000 cowards, but that was their only qualification, except that they knew how to drink water without prostrating themselves. Yet those things alone do not qualify them as leaders.
The word qahal does not mean what Comparet insists. In fact, this word was even used of the wicked who are not of Israel, for example in the 26th Psalm where David wrote: “5 I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.” Then in Proverbs chapter 21, qahal is congregation once again where we read “16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.” Many other uses may be found where it refers to the general collection of the children of Israel, and not merely to some elite group among them. In the 107th Psalm, the general congregation, or qahal, is contrasted to the assembly of the elders where it says: “31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.” In Jeremiah 44:15 the word qahal is translated as multitude, and refers to a multitude of sinners. In Jeremiah 50:9 qahal is assembly where we see the phrase “an assembly of great nations”. These and many other passages prove that Comparet was completely wrong about the meaning of this term.
Remember how often, especially in Isaiah, Yahweh says, "Ye are my witnesses," when He was speaking to the nation of Israel. We were to be Yahweh's witnesses to the world. If our nation would live according to Yahweh's rules, then we would demonstrate to the world that here was a nation, which had prosperity such as no other nation, had been able to achieve. Here was a nation, which wasn't afflicted by plagues that came upon other nations; they had good health and a long life. Here was a nation which had liberty such as none of the other nations had. However, it always took the policeman's club and the executioner's sword to keep Israel obeying the laws of Yahweh. One of our famous statesmen, probably Benjamin Franklin said, “If a people will not be ruled by God, they will certainly be ruled by tyrants.” This is the lesson the world has had to learn. The laws of Yahweh give the greatest freedom that any nation can ever have. This is why the great masses of people, all Israel, were put here. We were put here with the responsibility to do what they were instructed to do, this is to obey the laws of Yahweh. When Israel hasn't lived up to this responsibility, when they became an obstruction instead of a tool in the hand of Yahweh, to accomplish His purposes they were put out of the way. Scores of thousands of them at a time were eliminated, over and over again.
While the premise is certainly true, the saying that “Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants” is often attributed to William Penn, but it is reportedly not found in his extant writings, and a proper citation cannot be located. Comparet was right also, that Israel was “put out of the way” when they failed to keep Yahweh’s laws for several centuries. But according to Isaiah, they remained Yahweh’s elect in spite of their sins, and in Him they had promises of reconciliation, salvation and eternal life. Furthermore, the children of Israel being Yahweh’s witnesses does not necessitate the circumstance that they were conscious witnesses, or that they even spread the Gospel. To the contrary, the Gospel was intended only to be spread to them, who at that time had consisted mostly of the nations of Europe, and they fulfilled their role as His witnesses when they accepted the Gospel and became Christians, having been reconciled to Yahweh in Christ.
This we read in Isaiah chapter 43, where Yahweh addresses the children of Israel and says: “10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.” Then nearly 800 years later, Yahshua Christ had said, as it is recorded in John chapter 8, that “28 … When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.” So when the scattered children of Israel accepted Him, and recognized Him as God and Savior, they witnessed that Yahweh is true through their actions, but they are still not conscious of it until this very day, because most of them are still blind to the full implications of these prophecies.
Continuing once again with Comparet:
With Yahweh's favor goes the tremendous responsibility of living and doing what is required, when we are selected for this sort of a job. We may never have the opportunity to do the great, heroic things, which are recorded in history. However, remember those four lepers, not one of them led an army, routed that huge besieging army of Syrians, or led a rescue force to bring food into the city. All they did was to go out to the camp of the Syrians, find it empty and go back and report what they had seen. They were the least of all the people around. What appeared like the least spectacular job of all, they did. Whatever your particular walk of life is, we have the responsibility of showing the good character that Yahweh requires of those who are His favorites. We can't lie to people or cheat them. We can't live a wicked life without paying a higher penalty than the ordinary individuals, who were never called upon to be anything but just part of the crowd. This isn't too much to ask of us, especially with all the blessings Yahweh has showered upon us.
Once again, our way of looking at these episodes in Scripture is entirely different than what Comparet presents here. The lepers were only out for their own interests. Before they notified the people of Samaria, they filled their own bellies, and they even took of the silver and the gold which they found in the camp and hid it for themselves. They did nothing with good intentions for the rest of Israel, even in their decision to notify the people of Samaria that the Syrians had fled. So, as the account is told, they had no particularly good character on display yet Yahweh used them in spite of their own intentions, not because of them. So the lepers filled their bellies and took their riches, and then they decided to tell the Samaritans, lest they feared that they themselves would suffer some trouble. Yahweh may have used the least of men to help the Samaritans, but it was not because of any merit on the part of those men.
So Comparet seems to think that the account of the lepers supports what he is about to say, when it clearly does not, where he continues and says:
If we are leading the sort of life where we are demonstrating the way Yahweh meant people to live, we are loyal to Him. We are trying to learn what His will is, and to conform to it. We don't have to do these spectacular historic things. Our part is a small one, but it is an important one, because Yahweh generally accomplishes His purpose through unimportant people. The people like Napoleon and figures like this, who could brag they led armies and conquered nations etc., aren't working for the glory of Yahweh. Each is only working for his own personal glory; this is why Yahweh hardly ever leaves anything really important up to them. Yahweh does His work through the unimportant people like those of us here, because we are not trying to be the important ones, we realize the glory is Yahweh's.
While it is good to have understanding, and it is important to be obedient to Christ, Yahshua Christ only demanded two things of His disciples, and told them that they would please Himself and Yahweh God the Father if they did those things, which are to keep His commandments and to love one another. The Christian truly has no need to do anything else in order to please God. The doctrine of personal salvation as it is taught by denominational churches leads to selfishness and pride. However once we truly understand that “All Israel shall be saved”, as Paul of Tarsus and Isaiah the prophet had both professed, then we may come to realize how important it is to love, and even to forgive, our brethren in this world. Then, by performing good deeds in display of that love, perhaps we may gather for ourselves treasure in heaven, and we shall discuss that further when we offer our final conclusions to this critique [the portion where we answer the question, “But enough for what?”].
But even this does not mean that one is worthy of any special role that may lead to the salvation of the people. In fact, in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul of Tarsus had written: “26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.” Likewise, this is the true meaning in the account of the lepers, that Yahweh chose them to deliver the people of Samaria, in spite of the fact that the lepers themselves had no noble or good intentions, and had initially only sought to save themselves. It was the same with the three hundred who went with Gideon, who were selected only because they drank water more cautiously than the others.
So now, here he goes again with our primary disagreement with his sermon, where it approaches its end and he says:
Don't let anybody tell you that merely being born into Israel, in and of itself, is all it takes to be saved. We can take one verse out of context, but if we go back to the Bible and see where it fits in and what it is based on, it doesn't uphold any such ideas. Those in Israel that have been saved have been the faithful ones. The times when the bulk of the nations were following Yahweh's laws, the nation had peace and prosperity, everything good. Sometimes there were only a few in the nation that were doing right, then times could get very bad indeed. Remember when Elijah came back to try to save Israel from Ahab, there were just 7,000 men left in the whole nation of Israel who had not become apostate idolaters, worshiping Baal. However, Yahweh saved the nation because of them.
But whether it was Gideon, or the four lepers, or the remnant of the seven thousand in the days of Elijah, all of these events associated with these men relate to the temporal salvation of the nation, or of part of the nation, and that salvation was only for a limited time. The remnant of the seven thousand was in the days of Ahab, and the event with the four lepers was in the time of Jehoram, the son of Ahab, Jehoram died around 841 BC, and after much more turmoil and war, a hundred and twenty years later Samaria was destroyed by Sargon II and its people were all taken into captivity. Likewise in the time of the Judges, after the death of Gideon the children of Israel were oppressed by Abimelech for three years, and a short time later they were ruled over by the Philistines for eighteen years. So even temporal salvation is often only temporary salvation.
Now for the closing paragraph of Comparet’s sermon:
When Yahweh came down to destroy the city of Sodom, He told Abraham what He was about to do. Abraham was worried because his nephew Lot and Lot's family lived in Sodom. Abraham told Yahweh he knew the people, in this fairly large city, were mostly bad but there might be fifty good people there. Abraham asked Yahweh if He would destroy the whole city, including these fifty good people, because the others were evil. Yahweh told Abraham if there were fifty good people He wouldn't destroy the city. Abraham must have wondered himself, if there were as many as fifty good people because he started to bargain with Yahweh. Yahweh was very patient and finally told Abraham if there were even ten good people in Sodom, He wouldn't destroy it for the sake of the ten good people. There weren't ten people in Lot's family; the rest of the people weren't worth saving, so Sodom had to be destroyed. In fact, not all of Lot's family was worth saving. Yahweh took care of those who didn't merit the destruction. Always it is the few on whom Yahweh relies, the few who have measured up to the test of character. It is the small everyday actions that we will be measured by. I forget who it was that said, "When you stand before God's judgment seat, He isn't going to look for medals or diplomas, but for scars." Have you been out there in the battle for right? Have you stood fast for right against evil? If you have, you will be among those of Israel which will be saved. You will not only be saved, but put right up on the top. You are going to be the icing on the top layer of the cake. It is worth working for.
The problem with Sodom is not that the people were not “worth saving”, but rather, that they had to be punished for their sins, and their sins were so grievous that they were also chosen to serve as a memorial for all those who would sin in that manner in the future. But Lot’s own wife was also destroyed for that same reason, so when she was willfully disobedient she became a memorial, and Lot’s sons-in-law evidently loved the sinners of Sodom more than they loved their own wives, so they also died. But contrary to Comparet, everything which Yahweh God created is worth saving, and therefore Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 that “22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Paul was speaking only of the descendants of Adam, since of course bastards are not of Yahweh and do not have His spirit, by which resurrection is possible.
So while Comparet is not able to judge sinners to eternal damnation, as only Yahweh can rightly do that, neither can he justly claim to know the fate of those who may appear to be righteous. So he is not justified where he said to his listeners that “You will not only be saved, but put right up on the top. You are going to be the icing on the top layer of the cake. It is worth working for.” In the parable of the vineyard workers, in Matthew chapter 20, men who came very late in the day to work in the vineyard ultimately received the same wage as those who had toiled from dawn. When the men who worked all day complained, the master had no care to give them any greater compensation. Neither can Comparet know beforehand which servant shall receive ten talents, or which servant five, or even none, as Christ had also said that “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). Only Yahweh God can be judge of what He has given men, and how He will reward them accordingly.
But even worse, Comparet had also told his listeners that if they had done certain things, “you will be among those of Israel which will be saved.” That is no different than the various denominational doctrines of salvation by works. Paul of Tarsus refuted this very thing in Romans chapter 4, where he wrote: “6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.” Likewise, in Ephesians chapter 2 Paul wrote: “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Then, although there are other and lengthier examples, in 2 Timothy chapter 1 Paul wrote of God: “9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”. Our final example shall be from Titus chapter 3: “4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
If man is not saved by works, then man must realize that he cannot save himself. Yet Comparet told his listeners that if they did certain things, “you will be among those of Israel which will be saved”, because he would not accept Paul’s words in Romans 11:26 where he attested that “All Israel shall be saved” and then he ignored Isaiah 45:25 where the prophet wrote that “25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” In the context of that passage, as most of the children of Israel were off in Assyrian captivity being punished for their sins, “all the seed of Israel” can only refer to every single Israelite, in spite of either their works or their sins.
But in another sermon, titled Why Did Christ Come?, Comparet basically professed that all one has to do is believe Jesus and he would be saved, as the denominational Protestant churches also often claim, where he said the following:
In the Bible, which Yahweh had written through His servants and prophets, He had foretold both His coming and the purpose of it. Today we hear only a part of that purpose quoted to us, until we forget that His first coming, crucifixion and resurrection served more than one purpose. One of these purposes was to pay the penalty for the sins of every person who believes and accepts Him as his personal Savior. Since all the sins of the believer were thus fully paid for with no penalty, no judgment or condemnation remains for the believer and eternal life is given to him. Since no man can merit eternal life by his own works, this is the only doorway into life eternal.
But if Christ saves only those who believe and accept Him, how does even that act not constitute a salvation by works? To believe and accept something is a work in itself, and if one does not keep His commandments then how can one claim to believe? Then Comparet continued in that same sermon and said: “This is not all, another purpose of Yahshua’s coming was to redeem His people Israel. We know today that Israel is not and never was composed of Jews.” Yahweh did promise to redeem His people Israel, but those promises are made without exception, and in spite of their apostasy and their sins. He did not promise to redeem only “good” sheep, but all of the sheep. This is true, even when the sheep have been slaughtered, as Paul cited the 44th Psalm, where he wrote in Romans chapter 8 that “36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature [which is any other creation outside of the children of Israel], shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Not all Israel has accepted the Gospel, and Comparet’s words basically condemn all Israelites who have never heard the Gospel to eternal damnation. Even today people hear sayings from the Gospel, and by them they have been programmed for the world by worldly so-called “churches”, even if they think they are Christian. So when the gospel is explained to them from a proper historical perspective and the words of the prophets, they reject it. Therefore if one needs to believe in Jesus to be saved, about which Jesus is it speaking? Is the name “Jesus” a magic charm? Or, as we said in the opening remarks of this critique, are the promises to the fathers unconditional guarantees or mere propositions which we may win or lose at any given time? Yet even if we are learned in the Scriptures, and we believe, and by that we seek to keep the commandments of Christ, we cannot let our own actions or our own knowledge make us self-righteous.
Here Bertrand Comparet has offered only some of the accounts of the temporal salvation of Israel in the Old Testament history, and absolutely no New Testament Scripture in his rather meager effort to refute Paul’s attestation that “All Israel shall be saved”. He may have offered every account of punishment and temporal salvation, and it would have no bearing on Romans 11:26 or Isaiah 45:25.
Bertrand Comparet was a trained lawyer, and he worked as an attorney for 42 years, from 1926 to 1968, according to Jeanne Snyder who was a lifelong friend and wrote the short biography found in publications of his work. I would assert that being an attorney, and for many years a prosecutor, perhaps Comparet was trained to only call those witnesses which support his case, and to ignore the others. But in any event, since this is one of his longer sermons, we can imagine that he called all of the witnesses which he thinks would prove his case, that not all Israel shall be saved, and that Paul misquoted Isaiah but had also been taken out of context, which was his very first witness.
Therefore if Comparet called every witness, and we must assume that he called all of those witnesses which his investigative ability afforded, and then we would assert that upon all of our critique here, which serves as a cross-examination of each of his witnesses, that every one of them has failed to substantiate his case. They had all either lied, or they were irrelevant to the charges. The fact that he was speaking in relation to eternal salvation is demonstrated at the end of his sermon where he told his listeners that if they did certain things, that they “will be among those of Israel which will be saved”, which also attests that not all of Israel shall be saved, contrary to both Paul and Isaiah.
So now that Comparet has closed his case, as we have presented his entire sermon, in the next part of this series we shall present our case, and take up a defense of Romans 11:26 and the verse which Comparet must have purposely ignored, or perhaps never realized the implications, which is Isaiah 45:25. We will leave this here for now, and, Yahweh willing, we shall have at least one more segment in this series, where we will discuss all of the things which Comparet had failed to discuss in his supposed refutation of Paul, and show that it is indeed enough to be an Israelite. Hopefully we shall then be able to also answer the question “but enough for what?”, which we ourselves had asked.