Dear Rev. Hoeksema:
I am writing you in behalf of the Adult Bible Class of the Protestant Reformed Church in Randolph. They have the following question for which they desire some clarification, providing your busy schedule permits time for an answer. If so, feel free to answer directly or in the Standard Bearer.
The question is as follows: “How must we understand the words of Psalm 81:12-13 which speak of “my people” in connection with what we read in Isaiah 6:10—”this people”? Is the “my people” of Psalm 81 a reference to Israel (spiritual and carnal seed alike)? If not, and it is a reference only to the people of God, to what extent may we conclude did God give them up “to their own heart’s lust?’ Do we have here an analogy of what we read elsewhere in Scripture regarding the deliverance of God’s people into the hands of the enemy and their captives?
We shall appreciate hearing from you when time permits, of course.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Adult Bible Class,
Randolph Prot. Ref. Church
per: E. Emanuel
This particular portion of Scripture has been the center of our interest and attention more than once since 1924. The Christian Reformed Synod of 1924, strange to say, quoted this text as proof to the so-called restraint of sin.
Let me remark the following:
1. The term “My people” in Scripture always refers to the fact that God’s people are His peculiar possession according to the election of grace. This is also the meaning of the words in Ps. 81.
2. Secondly, we must understand that, in the old dispensation, and from the viewpoint of Ps. 81, this elect people of God is the nation of Israel. God had chosen Israel as His peculiar people. The holy line ran through this nation. He loved Israel as His own. He had redeemed the people with a mighty arm from the bondage of Egypt. To that redemption of Israel the psalm refers.
3. In the third, place, we must understand that the term “My people” never refers to every individual in the nation of Israel. Not all were Israelites that were of Israel: the children of the promise always were counted for the seed and these alone.
4. There was also in the nation of Israel a reprobate shell, and that reprobate element was often very strong. It is because of this fact that the nation as a whole often departed from the ways of the Lord and that Israel “would none of him.” vs. 11. Then the Lord gave it over into their own heart’s lust. This was true of Israel according to its reprobate shell, never according to its elect kernel.
5. Even then the Lord loves His people, who suffer with the reprobate. And it is from that love that the words of the Lord must always be explained: “Oh that my people had hearkened unto me . . . . . I should soon have subdued their enemies.”