God has an Israel

Digging through old drafts of blog posts the other day I found the following post, last edited April 2, 2010. It seems like a relatively complete thought, and I have no idea why I didn't post it then. So I'm posting it now.  In my reading from the Church Dogmatics this morning, ol' Karl was talking the Old Testament, and some of the things he was saying reminded me of a quote that I thought I had read earlier in §14. But I was wrong. Here's the quote, from von Balthasar:

All ancient peoples have their gods. The God of Israel, however, is distinguished from all other gods by the fact that he brings into being a people to worship him by his own free sovereign act of choosing - whether we look at the first manifestation of this choice of a people - when God called Abraham - or at his choosing his people when he led them out of Egypt at the hand of Moses (who himself had first to be called of God), thus making something like a nation out of a miserable collection of uncultured and demoralized slaves; before all this, in each case there is a free act of the divine initiative that can neither be foreseen, demanded, nor deduced. (Engagement With God, pp. 13)

I quite enjoyed the point that von Balthasar makes here. Israel is not a people who have a god named YHWH. Rather, YHWH is the God who has a people, Israel.