The True Origins of All the Fighting in the Middle East Turn Out to Be One Gigantic Family Feud
(Romans chapter 9, verses 14-33)
Last week as we left off at verse 13, Paul the apostle was addressing some concerns to the early Roman church regarding the separation of Christian believers and their Jewish brethren (and in some cases, family members). This was, in actuality, a culture clash that was occurring at the time Paul wrote these words. I will now present the final 10 verses of this week’s Scriptural study, beginning at verse 14:
“What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but God’s mercy. For the 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’. Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens those whom he wants to harden.’ One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?’ But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘why did you make me like this’? Does not the potter have the rights to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, – bore with great patience the objects of his wrath prepared for destruction? 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 – even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9, verses 14-24)
“‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ (Exodus 33:19) God chooses those that he sets aside for honor and praise, but he also chooses those who stand against him, because to stand against God means to rely on our human pride and only what matters to ourselves, refusing to submit to God’s will. “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but God’s mercy.” What doesn’t? Our selfish desires, our ulterior motives, and all our little schemes and manipulations that we hatch on others we dislike. We can obtain neither eternal salvation nor the forgiveness of sins by our works alone, or by our words and deeds, whether they are good or bad. Recognition of God’s grace and of the shed blood of Jesus Christ are what saves us. Refusal to believe these established facts are what condemns us. I can’t make it any more plain than that.
Then why, Paul wrote, does God still blame people when they sin, and why does the guilt remain? And, who are we to talk back to God making demands as to why he has made us as he has? People who make this mistake, and it can be a very serious one, are forgetting who is God and who isn’t. Let’s not go there, people. Remember to keep your eyes on the prize! What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known… – even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” God has shed his grace upon us through Jesus his only Son so that the riches of his glory could be made known. The glory of the Son, in turn, is then made known through us, his adopted children. Since Jesus walked the earth as a Jewish carpenter, his salvation is equally available to Gentiles and Jews on an equal basis. So now you know why we’re all family members. And now let’s conclude this study of Romans chapter 9, starting at verse 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’, and, ‘it will happen in the very place where it was said to them, ‘you are not my people’, they will be called ‘Sons of the Living God’. Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the Israelite’s will be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality’. 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’. What shall we say, then? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. And why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’.” (Romans 9, verses 25-33)
Paul the apostle quotes the book of Hosea chapter 2 and verse 23 to finish making his point to the Roman congregation. “‘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’, and, ‘it will happen in the very place where it was said to them, ‘you are not my people’, they will be called ‘Sons of the Living God.” What was Paul talking about? He was referring to Israel’s status as God’s chosen people based on the promise God made to Abraham (see the book of Genesis chapter 15), which was that Abraham would be the “father of many nations” and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the clear night sky. Paul refers to this in the next sentence when he wrote, “Though the number of the Israelite’s will be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”
The unvarnished truth here is that not everyone is going to heaven when they die. In fact, there are many out there today who simply aren’t going to make it into New Jerusalem. A disturbing proportion of them will be what the Bible calls “lukewarm Christians” in the book of Revelation chapter 3. It is there that it is written about the church at Laodicea, “I wish that you were either hot or cold. But since you are neither, I will spew you out of my mouth”. That judgment refers to the end times church, which is the present day since the second coming of our Lord is getting close. And if only a remnant of Israel, who are God’s chosen people, will be saved, now many fewer who comprise all the remaining nations excluding Israel will be saved? The answer is, not as many as we have been led to believe by organized religion, who seem to think that only those who belong to their denominations will be saved. It is those very people who are going to be in for a really rude awakening.
“… the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. And why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as it were by works.” Right here is where Paul finishes making his point, which is that Jews and all other nations have all become one in the eyes of God. The non-Jews have righteousness, which means to be found without fault but in that case according to their faith, while the Jews who do not believe in Jesus (there are a growing number who do believe) have lost out because they thought they could be made righteous by their works. This teaching was a reference to the Law of Moses in the Old Testament, when in fact that’s not how things work in God’s kingdom. Nobody, whether Jewish or not, can get to heaven and achieve eternal life based only on their good deeds. That is because no matter how many good deeds any one of us performs, we all still have that sinful nature that dates all the way back to Adam and Eve. There is no way we can shake this off of us on our own. Only by placing our unconditional faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ can eternal salvation be attained and our sinful natures overcome.
“ They stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame’”. The “stumbling stone” Paul is referring to is none other than Christ Jesus himself. If we trust only in our works or our related sacrifices such as tithing 10% of our income like certain churches teach, that will not get us to heaven in and of itself. But if we humble ourselves before Christ by surrendering control of our lives and placing our complete trust in him, then and only then can we become Jews by adoption in the family of God. When we trust in God, we can never be put to shame so long as we work diligently at this continuously. So here is something we have found that will improve our relationship with our Savior while bringing us ever closer to him all the while. Let’s begin to put this into practice today, and soon you will see just how remarkably effective in your walk with the Lord this is.