These next few blog posts will try to put into words what God has been showing me in the 9th chapter of Romans. I've been told I am studying "what some consider to be one of the most difficult passages of Scripture." So I sheepishly wade in hoping that I am hearing the Holy Spirit correctly, doing this passage justice, and bring God glory!
We begin with the first five verses.
Paul is very much Jewish. We must remember that. Even though God has given him a passion and calling to the Gentiles, he never loses his passion for his "own race". Paul knew the direction in which the Jewish nation was headed. He saw their obstinate resistance to Christ as Messiah. He desires them to come to know Christ so much so that he writes "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." This was Paul's desire, but he knew there is only One who can be the perfect atonement for man, that is Christ.
I can feel Paul's passion for his people can't you?! Have you ever felt that passion for a loved one? How our hearts desire and break over the spiritual lives of our families. How our hearts also break over the spiritual life of our nation. We wish so much that we could do something, anything to draw them to Christ! We desire for them to know how the truth will set them free! We who are learning to study scripture see the truths that will happen to those who are not in Christ Jesus and we want to save them from that end! Here I am reminded of how Paul was not the first to weep over Israel. Jesus in Luke 19:41-44, wept over Jerusalem and what they failed to see in his coming and also what would happen to them because of their blindness. Oh that our unsaved relatives and this nation would turn to God and seek His truths! But we have to know that not all will come to salvation. God alone knows who will come, it is part of our purpose to speak His truth to all and bring into the fold those whom he has called according to His great mercy.
We cannot forget the Jewish nation was and is special. God set them apart to be the vessels by which he fulfilled his plan. He redeemed them and called them his own. In 2 Samuel 7:23 it says:
And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O LORD, became their God.
The writer of 1 Chronicles says virtually the same thing is 17:21-22. Other wonderful passages that speak to how special Israel is: Deuteronomy 4:32-39;7:7-8; 10:15; 26:18-19; 33:29, as well as so many more! Search them out and see what God says about this nation, elsewhere in scripture.
But here Paul sets forth a list of what is Israels, and the special place they hold. Namely:
the giving of the law
To them belong the patriarchs,
and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all!
Amazing the heritage they have isn't it!! Israel took great stock in this heritage, so much so that it blinded them to the one who all this heritage pointed too. We will see in a future post how Israel counted on that tradition. They were zealous for the law without knowledge (Romans 10:1-2). They were under the false understanding that it was their heritage and adherence to the law that would save them.
I believe the same can be said today about those of us who have grown up going to church. Our spiritual heritage or denominational heritage become very important, to the detriment of our relationship with Christ. Again we will touch on this more later.
Question 1: Do you sorrow for a brother/sister who is lost? Do you pray over our nation and it's continual falling away from God? We need to speak the truth of God's word in love, leaving the work to the Holy Spirit to convict those whom He has called.
Question 2: Are you one that has all the riches of your ancestral traditions without faith?
Seek out Christ and his truth, and he will set you free from the bondage of tradition, to a life that is full of joy and peace in Him!