Paul took us to the pinnacle of God’s glory in chapter 8. He has convinced us that nothing can separate us from God’s love and that He works for our good! But now, Paul is lamenting in chapter 9 over his fellow Israelites. Namely that the Israelites for the most part have missed Messiah. He had even gone so far in v. 3 to say I would cut myself off if only it would mean they would accept Christ. Paul is highly upset that the Israelites have so much going for them yet they missed it.
“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:5)
He is clearly upset that they had all the signs and wonders and are God’s chosen people yet they do not believe. Paul goes on to point out though that it is not that God that has failed the Israelites but that the Israelites were the ones not believing God. They had the opportunity but they just didn’t get it.
“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (Romans 9:8)
The commentary I read pointed out that that one meaning of the name Israel is “governed by God”. What Paul is saying here is that those who are not governed by God are not really the children of God. This is where the children of the promise comes in. The children of the promise are the ones who are governed by God. Paul is showing that merely being a descendant saves no one. Hmm. I know that Paul is talking about the Israelites but could this be translated to today also? In that just having christian parents or a christian background does not mean you are saved.
Paul also points out that God chose Jacob over Esau even though Esau was the firstborn. God told Rebecca this would be the way things were even before the children were born so this has nothing to do with the actions of Jacob and Esau.
We can’t understand God’s choices any more than Paul could. However, Paul was hanging on to who God is for his understanding.
“What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” (Romans 9:14-15)
God does what He does and shows mercy or raises up or whatever for His glory. We can’t think or know or understand why He does what He does. This reminds me of Isaiah 55:8 ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.’
“For the scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’” (Romans 9:17)
We were created for God’s glory, plain and simple. Our main purpose is to magnify Him and to make His name famous. And sometimes that is shown through His mercy and His grace and His goodness and sometimes that is shown in hardship and trial and hurt. Unfortunately it is true that not all will be saved. Paul says of Israel only a remnant will be saved (v. 27).
It all comes down to faith.
“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why/ Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” (Romans 9:30-33)
Oh Lord please don’t let us be put to shame. Lord I pray that we live in such a way that your name will be glorified and magnified and proclaimed in all the earth. I pray Lord that my faith will be known in such a way that only points to you!