Lesson 80: "They Are Not All Israel, Which Are of Israel" (Romans 9:6) continued
Romans 9:1-29 continued, plus 9:30-33
WeIcome to lesson # 80.1 trust you remember, we read the first 29 verses of Rom. Ch. 9, in our last lesson. Also, you were assigned to read Jer. 18:1-10 between lessons. We said in Rom. Ch. 8, that Paul reached crescendo, the top of the mountain in spiritual thought. "The just shall live by faith."
Through Christ. Jesus we are made free from the wrath of God (Ch. 5), by baptism into Jesus Christ we can be free from past sins (Ch. 6), we are free from the law (Ch. 7), and finally (Ch. 8) we can be free from spiritual death in Christ Jesus, if we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh (8:1). This is Paul's climactic thought to the Romans and undoubtedly, the most glorious thought for us in the whole bible. But, as Paul heralded the good news of the gospel, free to any, who will partake of the fountain of life; Paul was suddenly struck by great sorrow and sadness because his ..Jewish brethren, i.e. his own race and his own nation in general would not accept Jesus as God's Son, Lord and Saviour and be saved by the gospel of Christ that was sent by the Heavenly Father to the.. Jewish nation first. I tried to develop this in our last lesson and spent much of our time. As glorious as the gospel of Christ is; the other side of the coin makes our hearts ache with sorrow for so many) even of our own families and friends who reject the gospel or who refuse to obey it in truth and simplicity going about to establish their own righteousness, instead they choose denominational names and manmade creeds and reject the gospel plan and ignore the urgency of the pure gospel. How sad! How sad! Surely you can identify with the apostle Paul who was looked upon by the Jewish nation as a traitor and a renegade betrayer of his people. They thought of Paul as their enemy and impugned his motives. Paul said,
"I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (v. 3) Notice in that verse, Paul used the word "brethren" in the sense of kinfolks; not in the Christian sense in which that term is often used. The word "Israel" that God applied it to Jacob (Gen. 32: 28) means: "a prince of God" Paul's people were:
"Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the convenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came..." (v. 4-5) That made it even more ironic; didn't it? But then, in v. 6 Paul said the Jewish rejection of the gospel had not made the gospel of none effect. The Jews in general thought God couldn't do it without them and they so interpreted the scriptures. They understood God's promises of the past to mean that Jews would be saved regardless. But, notice Paul's statement in v. 8, "They which are the children of the flesh, these are NOT the children of God..."
Just because they were "of Israel" (v. 6) did not mean they were Israel, i.e. their fleshly ties did not make them princes of God, just because they were related to Abraham (v. 7). The Children of the promise (end of v. 8) are those that obey God. Do you remember Gal. 3:29?
"If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Back in Rom. 8:15-16, Paul had just covered the Spirit of adoption, the children of God and the heirs of God. I suppose, very much like today; many were deluded into thinking they were children of God when they had not obeyed God. And, surely there are none so arrogant as those who think they are saved by placing their faith and their hopes in the doctrines and commandments of men, as Jesus himself so eloquently made the point (back in Matt. Ch. 15). He described this pathetic situation as "blind leaders of the blind."
In v. 9-17 (here), Paul began to show that his statements (in v. 6-7-8), i.e. about the children of the promise NOT being the fleshly seed of Abraham, HE SHOWED: this was not inconsistent with what the O.T. taught; in spite of the Jewish understanding [or should I say misunderstanding?] of those Scriptures. In v. 9, Paul appealed to their knowledge of the story of Abraham (Gen. 18:10), that God set the date of Isaac's birth in advance. Then in v. 10-12 he used a prophecy that God gave to Rebecca, Abraham's daughter-in-law (Gen. 25:23) before she gave birth to twins, named: Jacob and Esau. This prophecy is quoted in v. 12, The elders shall serve the younger." 'Then Paul went to another statement in the last book of the O.T., (Mai. 1: 2-3); quoted or paraphrased here in v. 13 like this:
"It is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." All of these passages show that God made certain elections or selections with these people in advance, i.e. before birth. Now, you might want to notice, the word "election" IS USED (in v. 11). Paul emphasized this election relating to Jacob and Esau was made before they were born; before they done ANYTHING either good or bad. Then in v.14, Paul pulled his point into perspective with that same old question (he has now used five times in this book):
"What shall we say then?"
In other words what's the conclusion?
"Is there unrighteousness with God?"
Was it fair for God to pre-select and pre-determine certain
things with those people? (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca,
Jacob, Esau)? Well, regardless of their conclusion: the Jews
were knowledgeable enough to know that Paul's election
principle (here illustrated) was true to the Scriptures. Did this
make God unrighteous? Then, like before (the end of v. 14),
Paul answered his own rhetorical question with that
(this is the sixth time Paul used that phrase in Romans). "God
forbid!" THAT is the WRONG conclusion.
Now, why is Paul saying this? Well, what if God elected or
pre-determined that he would save according to the faith
"The just shall live by faith." (1:17)
Which, of course, the Jews did not accept. Would that be
unfair? Well, Paul didn't exactly ask that question; he simply
salted their searching memory enough to allow for the question
to germinate naturally in their own thinking. Then in v.15,
Paul helped the process along by tossing in a quote from Ex.
33:19 where God simply outright stated this election principle
"I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will
have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
Then in v. 17, Paul used Pharaoh to illustrate again; this time
in a more negative way. Finally, in v. 18, Paul came out with
"therefore" i.e. here's the conclusion: there's no denying the
election principle and Paul restated that principle again, to fix
in the mind of his reader. You recognize, of course, Paul had
been through these arguments time and time again. Evidently,
the next objection that always came up WAS: that somebody
would conclude; that if the election principle was
true, i.e. if God made selection ahead of time: then, what right
did God have to find fault with the results, how ever it came out
(that's the essence of v. 19). So, having set it up, Paul blasted
that one in v. 20! Who are we to reply against God?
"Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast
thou made me thus?"
Did you do your home work? Jer. 18:1-10? Do you recognize
the parable of the potter in v. 21? Just like the potter, God
selects the clay used in his vessels, i.e. human vessels: Pharaoh,
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, or even you and me. We are
vessels of God. We belong to God, he created us. So, don't try
to take away God's prerogative. Individuals don't have that
right; even councils, synod and presbyteries don't have that
right. What if God endured with much long- suffering and
didn't show his wrath even when he had that right to do so?
Does that make God unrighteous? That's the essence of the big long question in v. 22-23-24. Remember, the Jews, Paul is discussing (here) didn't believe Paul's gospel. They didn't accept the Gentiles as now being equal with the Jews with reference to that gospel. But, Paul called their attention to the fact it was prophesied long before in the O.T. and he quoted from the book of Hosea to make that point in v. 25 and 26. Then in v. 27-28, Paul turned to the book of Isa. 10:23 to show it had been prophesied, long before, that only a remnant of the Israelite population would be saved, i.e. only a few. So, Paul's Jewish brethren were helping that prophecy come true, in that they would not obey the gospel.
Now, if we may do a little rest-stop here, kick the tires and check the context. Keep in mind, Paul was writing to the Romans for the very purpose of encouraging obedience to the gospel. One of the very first things Paul told the Romans was
"that oftentimes I purpose to come unto you [Why Paul?]... that fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles." (1:13)
I might have some Paul said he was "ready to preach the gospel
to you that are at Rome also." Why Paul? Obviously, from Ch.
6 to preach baptism for the remission of sins and that they could
be free from spiritual death through baptism in Jesus and by
walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh. So, while we're
here, perhaps you should be aware that some have taken Paul's
doctrine of election (here in Ch. 9) to the extreme to teach what
is usually termed Calvinism, i.e. that a man's destiny was
determined before the foundation of the world and that one is
elected to eternal salvation or eternal torment before he is born
and that we have no part nor lot in the matter. This, of course,
is a false doctrine sometimes known by other terms like:
predestination, fore-ordination or total depravity. It is important
to realize, as you ponder on the parable of the potter; that, God's
election and his use of individual vessels to honor or dishonor,
does not deprive man of his freedom to do right or wrong, i.e.
to accept Christ or reject Christ. If the Calvinistic doctrine be
true; then Paul was wasting his breath, his time, and a nice
clean scroll in encouraging his kinsmen to obey the gospel; if
they COULD NOT in any way change their destiny and if that
destiny had ALREADY been pre-determined. Let there be no
mistake; Calvinism is a false doctrine. WE ARE ALL
DIFFERENT in that we are all born to different circumstances.
Adam was placed in the garden of Eden. Noah was
commissioned to build an ark and to cope with a flood.
Abraham was instructed to get out of his country. David was
made a king. I was born in Eastern Kentucky in the 20th
century. Some are born rich and some are born in poverty.
Some are bora with a white skin and some have dark skin. God
determined before Jacob and before Esau were bom that the
descendants of Esau who became known as the Edomites, were
to serve the descendants of Jacob, known as the Israelites. The
prophecy there had national significance; it was not to be
applied to individuals. It was not even true from the individual
point of view. Esau did not serve Jacob. The principle of
election here applied to Jacob and Esau did not take away their
right to obey or disobey. God used Pharaoh to show God's
power. But, these things, here referred to:
"the purpose of God according to election"
in v. 11, have nothing to do with Pharaoh's salvation or our
salvation. God takes our environmental circumstance into
account. As a matter of fact, he created us in this circumstance.
Thus, we are not saved or lost on that basis. God could have
used Pharaoh to have shown God's power; if Pharaoh had
obeyed God, just as much, as God showed his power in
Pharaoh's disobedience. History may have read differently, but,
Pharaoh had a part in that hardening process. The Jews, Paul's
kinsmen, had a part in their hardening also. Every creature of
God has individuality. However, there is a way in which we all
have equality. As free moral agents, we have the prerogative to
obey God and serve God to the best of our ability and we also
have the prerogative to disobey God and thereby serve Satan,
God's arch enemy. So, the principle of election that Paul here
describes has nothing to do with your salvation. Peter said on
the day of Pentecost,
"Save yourselves from this untoward generation."
Our salvation depends upon our accepting or rejecting the gospel of Christ. Now, review Ch. 9 down through v. 29. What is Paul's point? Get a good grip on v. 6-8, the substance of Paul's point. Verse 9 thru 29 is illustration and explanation of that thought. God gave the Jews blessings, promises and opportunities. They had no right to question God's actions. Even the prophets spoke of the salvation of spiritual Israel, which is the church. Paul appealed to Hosea and to Isaiah in v. 25-29. Now, what's the conclusion? Or in Paul's trite expression:
"What shall we say then?" (v.30)
In other words, what's the conclusion Paul? Let's read v. 30-33. Please read with me! We'll begin in v. 30. "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, have not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at the stumbling stone; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."
Alright, try to follow Paul's conclusion. "What shall we say then?"
Following that question, Paul made two statements. Notice now; STATEMENTS! (v. 30-31). First, that the Gentiles have attained to righteousness, which is by faith. Secondly, that Paul's Jewish brethren "hath not attained to the law of righteousness." Notice! there's no: God Forbid! this time. Paul in those statements (v. 30-31), stated the situation as it existed. Then, with one word: "Wherefore" followed by a question mark, in v. 32, Paul asked in effect: how or why could this be? Then, he gave the reason: "BECAUSE!" (Because what Paul?) "Because they sought it NOT by faith." Well, how did they seek it Paul? "by the works of the law." Do you see that? (middle of v. 32). This is another way of restating the force of Paul's argument in the prior chapters, i.e. the righteousness of God is imputed through faith and not by works. In this way: "they stumbled"; (beginning the second sentence in v. 32), i.e. the Jews missed the mark. Why? "For they stumbled at that stumbling stone." What stumbling stone Paul? Even this, he explained in v. 33, was prophesied before hand: "As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."
This quotation is from Isa. 28:16. God had elected that men shall be saved by faith in Jesus Christ. The Gentiles, (i.e. as a class of people), had responded to God's will and were being saved; whereas, the Jews (as a class of people) had rejected God's will and were being lost as a result. Isaiah's prophecy does not mean individual Jews were elected to salvation or damnation. "Zion" is another term for Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jewish nation; to which Christ came. Notice, the personification (near the end of v. 33): "whosoever believeth on him."
Jesus had used this same messianic prophecy about the stumbling stone and rock of offense back in Matt. 21:42, quoted from Ps. 118:22. Peter, when he and John were before the council, following Jesus' example quoted this prophecy in Acts 4:11. Later in I Pet. 2:6-8 Peter used it again. This was a clear messianic prophecy. Even Paul had used it in I Cor. 3:11. We'll begin with Romans Ch. 10 in our next lesson. Until then, this is saying: Have a good day!