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Humble Hero

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    The People Who Should Have Welcomed Him

    For more than a thousand years, the Jewish people had waited for the Savior’s coming. And yet, when He came, they did not know Him. They did not see any beauty in Him that was attractive to them. See Isaiah 53:2. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” John 1:11.HH 11.1

    God had chosen Israel to preserve the symbols and prophecies that pointed to the Savior, to be like wells of salvation to the world. The Hebrew people were to reveal God among the nations. In the call of Abraham, the Lord had said, “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3. The Lord declared through Isaiah, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7.HH 11.2

    But Israel set their hopes on worldly greatness and followed the ways of the heathen. They did not change when God sent them warning by His prophets. They did not change when they suffered the punishment of heathen conquest and occupation. Every reformation was followed by deeper apostasy.HH 11.3

    If Israel had been true to God, He would have made them “high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor.” “The peoples who will hear all these statutes” will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” Deuteronomy 26:19; 4:6.HH 11.4

    But because they were unfaithful, God could work out His plans only through trouble and affliction. They were brought to Babylon and scattered through the lands of the heathen. While they mourned for the holy temple that was destroyed, they spread a knowledge of God among the nations. Heathen systems of sacrifice were a perversion of the system God had appointed; from the Hebrews many learned the meaning of the sacrifices as God had planned them and in faith grasped the promise of a Redeemer.HH 11.5

    Many exiles lost their lives because they refused to disregard the Sabbath and observe heathen festivals. As idol worshipers were stirred up to crush out the truth, the Lord brought His servants face to face with kings and rulers so that they and their people could receive light. The greatest monarchs were led to proclaim that the God whom their Hebrew captives worshiped was supreme.HH 11.6

    During the centuries that followed the captivity in Babylon, the Israelites were cured of worshiping images, and they became convinced that their prosperity depended on obedience to the law of God. But for many of the people, the motive was selfish. They served God as the way to attain national greatness. They did not become the light of the world but shut themselves away in order to escape temptation. God had restricted their association with idol worshipers to prevent them from adopting heathen practices. But they had misinterpreted this teaching. They used it to build up a wall between Israel and other nations. The Jews were actually jealous that the Lord might show mercy to the Gentiles!HH 11.7

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