Introduction to Romans – Week 4 – Chapter 9

Romans Week 4 – Chapter 9

9 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 

2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 

3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 

4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 

5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

  • Paul is talking about Israel’s spiritual position before God
  • He is willing to sacrifice his own spirituality (if it were possible) for the spiritual safety of the people of Israel. 
  • Israel is mentioned as beneficiaries of national physical blessings, but not as beneficiaries of eternal life.
  • Jesus was born from their lineage.

For the first 8 chapters of Romans, Paul has led us through the process of sin, salvation, security and perseverance for believers.

Verse 4 & 5 breakdown and parallels: or:  “National Attributes”

  •  Israel’s “adoption to sonship” – (Exodus 4:22) – “Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son,…”
  • “The divine glory” – (Exodus 16:10) – “While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.”
  • The covenants with Abraham (Genesis 15), Moses (Exodus 24), The New Covenant (Jeramiah 31:31-34)
  • The “receiving of the law” – (Exodus 19-20)
  • The patriarchs are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
  • Jesus obviously from this lineage.

6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 

7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[a

8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 

9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”[b]

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 

11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 

12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”[c

13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

  • Just because you are a descendant of Abraham, doesn’t necessarily mean you have leverage with God. 
  • God knew before any of them were born who would bear the blessing of “National prosperity” to Israel.
  • On a spiritual level, not all born from Israel has an automatic place in heaven, they must be saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. 
  • Verse 13 is harsh! Paul quoted this from the Old Testament Septuagint of Malachi 1:2-3

These are NATIONAL attributes, NOT SPIRITUAL attributes. Nationally, God has promised to physically prosper Israel and its people. Yet, that promise DOES NOT invalidate the personal need for every Jew or Gentile to establish a personal, spiritual relationship with God through Jesus Christ. 

Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 

15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[a]

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 

17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[b

18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

  • “That’s not fair!” You can almost hear Esau whining!
  • Verse 17, Paul quotes Exodus 9:16 “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”  And that’s EXACTLY what God did.  Check out how Pharaoh became Israel’s arch nemesis:
  • Exodus 4:21 …but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
  • Exodus 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart...
  • Exodus 7:13 And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart
  • Exodus 7:14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened
  • Exodus 7:22 …and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.
  • Exodus 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart…
  • Exodus 8:19 …and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
  • Exodus 8:32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.
  • Exodus 9:7 …And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
  • Exodus 9:12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them…
  • Exodus 9:34 And when Pharaoh…he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart
  • Exodus 9:35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened
  • Exodus 10:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart…
  • Exodus 10:20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart…
  • Exodus 10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart…
  • Exodus 11:10 …and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart…
  • Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart...
  • Exodus 14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt…

God is omniscient; he knows every intricate detail of everyone’s future. As it happens, he doesn’t abuse that attribute like we would if we were omniscient (we’d probably use omniscience to go buy a lottery ticket). God did not cause Jacob to negotiate Esau out of his birthright, but He did know it would happen in advance – even before their birth.

  •  God knew at the time of creation that he would use Pharaoh as an instrument to challenge the people of Israel. 
  • God also knew Pharaoh would reject God for idealistic gods instead, so God hardened his heart so it would show His (God’s) power and deliver the people of the Nation of Israel.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 

20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[a

21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 

23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 

24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 

25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”[b]

26 and, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”[c]

27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.

28 For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”[d]

29 It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

  •  God is omniscient, right?  
  • If God is omniscient, does He know who will be saved when the rapture occurs?  
  • God revealed the Revelation to John outlining the details of the earth’s future, so does He already know who’s going to be saved?  
  • If so, does that make God unfair?  
  • God knows, but we don’t – so our responsibility as Christians is to regard everyone we meet as a candidate for salvation.  

With regard to omniscience, there’s one more point worth noting here. In Jeremiah 18:7-12, and other places, we see Jeremiah prophesying (600 B.C.) to Jerusalem/Judah that they should turn back to God and avoid God’s judgment. However, this is 100 years or so after Isaiah (700 B.C.) prophesied in Isaiah 39 that Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians because they would not repent. So…you see, God knew they would not repent, but inspired Jeremiah (as well as Ezekiel) to extend the invitation to them anyway to avoid the judgment of God. Could they have repented? Yes, but God knew they would not – just like Pharaoh – foreknowledge at work.

Conclusion:

We don’t have the mind of God.  We, as humans, would not be able to handle the levity of having omniscience power. We simply can’t wrap our brains around it, and because of that it may appear God is sometimes unfair.  But we must trust that God’s judgement of the saved as well as the condemnation of the lost is completely fair.  

Paul pretty much says without omniscience ourselves, we can’t really comprehend its vast implications. While it may seem unjust to us, we defer to God’s wisdom and know that it is not.

**For next week, please read Chapters 10-13**

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