Yet they are your people and your inheritance, which you brought out by your mighty power and by your stretched out arm.
It is related of a certain royal chaplain, that being asked offhand by his sovereign to give a concise and convincing argument in favour of Christianity, he replied in two words — "The Jews." He could not have given a better answer. You may question, if you will, every single prophecy in the Old Testament; but the whole of the history of the Jews is one continuous prophecy, more distinct and more articulate than all. You may deny, if you will, every successive miracle which is recorded therein; but again, the history of the Jews, from first to last, remains one stupendous miracle, more convincing than all. Look, first, at the capacities of the people themselves. They had no remarkable gifts which might have led us to anticipate for them this unique distinction. Nor does their land help us to solve the enigma. Palestine does, indeed, occupy a very large space in our imagination, but it is a very minute and insignificant spot in the map of the world. It was, moreover, incapable of expansion; for it was bounded on all sides either by the sea or by mountain ranges, or by vast and impracticable deserts. It is largely made up of barren and stony mountains; and even this meagre and contracted territory was not all their own. The sea coast would have been a valuable acquisition to a people gifted with commercial instincts; but from the sea coast they were almost wholly excluded; the Phoenicians on the north, the Philistines on the south, occupied all the most important harbours. And this territory, so small, so inexpansive, so unpromising, appears at a still greater disadvantage when compared with the surrounding people. The Jews were environed on all sides with the most formidable neighbours. What chance has Israel? Must it not be crushed, ground to powder, annihilated by its foes? But, at all events, it might be supposed that the Israelites would at least be united amongst themselves; loyal to their country; faithful to their laws and institutions; true to their God. But what do we find as a matter of fact? Their national history is one continuous record of murmurings, of rebellions, of internal feuds, of moral and spiritual defection. Not once or twice only, when the Almighty Archer had strung His weapon, and pointed His shaft, His aim was frustrated by Israel's disobedience, His chosen instrument swerved in His hands, "starting aside like a broken bow." So then, however we look at the matter, there is nothing which affords ground of hope; and when we question the actual facts we find that they correspond altogether to the expectations which we should have formed beforehand from the character and position of the people. Never has any people lived on this earth which has passed through such terrible disasters. Never has any people been so near to absolute extinction again and again, and yet has survived. Again and again the vision of the prophet has been renewed; again and again the valley of the shadow of death has been strewn with the bones of caresses seemingly extinct. Again and again lookers-on have despaired, and even the most hopeful, when challenged by the Divine call, could only respond, "O Lord God, Thou knowest." But again and again there has been a noise and a shaking, and the bones have come together bone to bone, and they have been strung with sinews and clothed with flesh, and the breath has been breathed into them, and they have lived, and stood up an exceeding great army...And do we ask what it was which gave to the Jewish people this toughness, this vitality, this power? The answer is simply, "They are Thy people, and Thine inheritance." It was the consciousness of their close relation to Jehovah, the omnipotent and ever-present God; it was the sense of a glorious destiny marking them out as the teachers of mankind; it was the conviction that they were possessors of magnificent truths, and that these truths must in the end prevail, whatever present appearances might suggest — this was the secret of their strength notwithstanding all their faults, this was the ever-sustaining breath of their life despite all their disasters. And do we ask, again, how it came to pass that when Israel called to the Gentiles, the Gentiles responded to the call, and flocked to the standard set up in Zion? Here, again, the answer is simple: "Because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel." The Gentiles had everything else in profusion, but this one thing they lacked — this knowledge of God their Father; and without this all their magnificent gifts could not satisfy or save them. Therefore when at length the cry went forth, "He, everyone that thirsteth," etc., they hurried to the fountain of salvation to slake their burning thirst.
Parallel VersesKJV: Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.