Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Notes on Romans--Part Thirty One

Here is my translation of Romans 9--
Now I am being brutally honest, our King is my witness and both my conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it that my whole being is shaken with grief and I suffer unending heartbreak for my people, my Jewish family. I would be willing to be forever separated from my King, to be cast into hell if that would save them.
They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God's adopted children. God revealed His true self to them. He entered into a very special relationship with them including the giving of His law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping Him and receiving His great promises. They trace their genealogy to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and our King himself was an Israelite, at least as far as his human nature is concerned, and for goodness sakes, he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of praise forever! Amen!
"Well then Paul, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel?" HECK NO! (see earlier post), just because a person is born into the nation of Israel does not mean that they are truly a member of God's chosen people! Tracing your genealogy back to Abraham does not make you a "child of Abraham." The Bible says that "God will regard your true children as having been born through Isaac" even though Abraham had another son.
Remember the story, God promised Abraham that He would return the next year and that Sara would have a son and he was Isaac who married Rebekah who gave birth to twins BUT before they were even born, before they had done anything good or evil, she received a message from God, a message demonstrating that God chooses people according to His own purposes; He selects persons, but not according to whether or not they have done something good or bad). She was told "Your older son will serve your younger son" or, as the Bible puts it, "Jacob I loved but Esau I hated."
"Paul, how do I respond to that? Can we conclude that God is unfair?" HECK NO! Remember, God said to Moses:
"I will show mercy to whomever I choose and I will show compassion to whomever I choose."
and the Bible states that God told Pharaoh "I have selected you for the very purpose of displaying my power and to teach the whole world who I am."
Understand, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.
"Paul, people might respond, 'Why then does God blame anyone for who can resist His will?'"
I answer, "who are you to question God? Does the creation get to quiz the creator asking 'Why have you made me like this?" When a manufacturer makes something doesn't he have the right to use what he wants and toss what he wants? Remember that although God has every right to display His justified anger and power He is very patient even with those whom His justified anger will fall upon, those made for destruction. He does this to make the greatness of who He truly is known so clearly to those whom He shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for eternal life and we are among those whom He selected, both from among the Jews and the Gentiles.
Remember that God said about non-Jews through His prophet Hosea:
"Those who were not my people I will now call my people. I will love those whom I did not love before" and
"Then, at the very place they were told, 'you are not my people', they will be called 'Children of the living God"
and the prophet Isaiah announced this regarding Israel.
"Though the people of Israel are as many as their are pebbles of sand on a beach only a select few will be rescued for the King will carry out His sentence upon the earth quickly and with finality."
and, at another time, Isaiah said the same thing,
"If the leader of heaven's armies had not spared a few of our children we would have been wiped out like Sodom, destroyed like Gomorrah."
Okay, what does this all mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to live up to God's standards, they were made right with God and it was by their belief and trust that this took place BUT the people of Israel who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping law never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of trusting in Him! They stumbled over the great rock in their path. God warned them of this in the Bible when He said,
"I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in Him will not be disappointed."