O.K. Here is where we're stepping in it people! This is where it begins to get dicey!
Paul starts out this section stating that even though there are many of his countrymen who do not know Christ, God's word hasn't failed. Why? Because as Paul says “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel”. What? How can that be?
Paul goes on to show how this can be. In simplest terms, God never promised that all Israel would be saved (think remnant). Paul goes on to state the case for this statement. Even though Israel is descendant of Abraham they are not all his children. In John 8:31-36, Jesus has a discussion with certain Jews about this very issue, which of course made them livid. ( You know I have to segway here for a minute ~ In verse 33 of John 8 these Jews say they've “never yet” been slaves to anyone....Um....what? I can remember a few times in history where they've been slaves to one nation or another. O.K. Maybe not technically slaves, but captives nonetheless!) O.K. Let's get back on track here: The true children are not of the flesh, but of the promise, as stated in Genesis 18:10,14. Remember that Ishmael was Abraham's fleshly descendant, but Isaac was a child of a promise made to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. This promise is also further explored in Galatians 4:23, 28.
Paul also uses the example of Jacob and Esau. Before they were even born, before either could do right or wrong, God choose Jacob over Esau. He choose the younger one over the older one. He choose Jacob knowing full well who he was and rejected Esau. He did this why? Verse 11 tell us “in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works (we know what a stinker Jacob was in the beginning), but because (OH this is good) of HIM WHO CALLS! (my emphasis added). It's all God and his choosing. Is is not based on one single thing we can do. I think 2 Timothy 1:9 is another great verse that speaks to it being God who chooses and not how well we do things, or who we are. Ultimately it is always God, and ultimately it is for His glory!
I want to go over one last thing in this section. This has been a verse that has always bothered me. It's verse 13 ~ “As it is written: Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” quoted from Malachi 1:2-3. I can see it differently now through the lens of God's sovereign call, but did God actually “hate” Esau? In reading my ESV and other commentaries I have come to see it as “Jacob I loved (choose), Esau I hated (rejected). A verse that helped me is Luke 14:26. Does God really want us to “hate” our parents, wife, children, brothers and sisters? No ~ for one he says we are to “obey our mother & father. What he is saying (I believe) is “I must come before any of these”. When it comes to choosing “hate”, “reject”, them for me. Other scriptures that show this contrast are: Genesis 29:30-31 (the account of Rachel being loved and Leah being hated), and Matthew 10:37.
Always there are concepts in scripture that we will struggle with. As we search God's word more and more, he will most definitely make himself known to us. But I also believe that God is so much bigger than what our minds can even conceive. So when we are reading and studying the harder passages we remember ~ He Alone is God.......
Question 1: How do these verses set with you?
Question 2: Do you understand there is nothing you can do (good or bad) that changes God's decision?
Question 3: Is he calling you?