Today, when we hear the words “911” we automatically think the worst. We think someone is in serious trouble or in a life-threatening situation. When this happens, we have to call on someone who has more power than we possess, the power and resources to overcome the situation, hopefully with a happy ending. For the Nation of Israel, chapters 9 through 11 of Romans point out their need of One who has the power and resources to rescue them.
We don’t know yet how serious our final conflict with the Moslems terrorist will eventually be for the United States but we know God has promised that the Nation of Israel’s final conflict will be worse than anything this world has seen or will see. The long term results for Israel have been disastrous in the past and will be even worse before there is real peace in Israel. We need to known why Israel is in this position of wrath before God to understand these chapters. The Bible outlines this in detail and the apostle Paul takes that up here in Romans 9-11.
In the days they were ruled by kings, the Nation of Israel had forsaken God’s commandments and rejected the God who had chosen them as His Own people. They had broken their covenants with God but God didn’t break His covenants with them, only set them aside, awaiting a later time when He would restore them. Later in history they rejected His Son, the promised Messiah, and even crucified Him. Since their rejection of God in the times of the kings, they have suffered untold persecution, rejection, and downright hatred by much of the world. It will not always be so.
Someone has suggested that the Gospel replaces the covenants God made with Israel. The Gospel does not replace the covenants God made with His chosen people, Israel. After the war that ends the Great Tribulation, Israel will be restored and God has promised them a bright future where they will be ruled by their Messiah, Jesus Christ, and experience the fullness of God’s blessings here on this earth.
Chapters 9-11 in the book of Romans are really a parenthesis. In the first 8 chapters, justification by faith is the subject. Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” With that thought still in mind, chapter 12 opens with the statement, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." This verse continues the theme from chapter 8 and the results of justification by faith in the finished work of Christ.
God’s love is so great for those who believe in the finished work of His Son, Jesus, that He freely justifies us from all things. Chapter 8 states that nothing in Heaven, on earth, or under the earth can separate us from the love of God. Since that is a Bible fact and the eternal truth, we should present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy unto God.
The Nation of Israel has rejected their Messiah and Savior and these three chapters point out how God can be just and yet turn aside from Israel for a period of time and allow spiritual blindness to come on Israel in part, because of her unbelief.
The Gospel of justification through faith in Jesus Christ does not change the covenants God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Christians of today are not the true Israel, and the church of today is not the recipient of the promises of God to Israel.
In Paul’s day, the relation of Judaism to the church was cause for major discussion. Since God had brought all the races into one common group, all men are condemned as sinners, (Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;")
God has opened one way of salvation to all men by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:8: "For by grace are ye saved through faith;").
Naturally these questions arose; “What happened to the covenant God made with David that applied specifically to Israel and was renewed to the mother of Jesus by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:30-33? “What about the promise to restore all Israel to her land and to establish a government with the Messiah, the promised son of David, and consequently the heir of David as it’s head?”
God has not forgotten His covenant with David. Chapters 9 - 11 answer these questions. Acceptance of the Gentiles by faith did not contradict the prophets or deny their teaching but agreed with them since they predicted the restoration of Israel would occur after the return of the Lord. Acts 15: 14-17: “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”
The Gospel of justification by faith in the finished work of Christ was foreseen by the prophets. Even though they didn’t fully understand the grace that was to come, far from having done away with the covenants to Abraham, David, and the whole house of Israel, the Gospel strengthens these promises. When the church is complete, Jesus will return to catch away His bride. Then, after the great tribulation period, Jesus will sit on the throne of His father David, and all Israel shall be saved. Now “all Israel” is not every individual Israelite, but Israel, as a nation, will become a Christian nation.
God will not take away His promises to Israel and give them to the church. God has not forgotten His people, and God will turn again to Israel, and a nation will be born in a day. God will fulfill every promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in minute detail.
Romans 9:1-3: "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
In chapter 8, Paul spoke of the glorious certainty of eternity in heaven that the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ looks forward to. Here he is thinking of the terrible future awaiting his brethren in the flesh, the Jews who don’t believe in Christ.
His heart was so full of love for his fellow Jews that he would forfeit his place in heaven if God would save them from their awful fate. He would take their place if it were possible.
His heart sank as he thought of the extreme failure, misery and hopelessness of his countrymen through their unbelief. He said, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.” His own people, very likely some of them close relatives, were lost, blinded, doomed, headed for an endless hell.
His sorrow was so deep that he said he would take their place in hell if it would bring his people to know this wonderful salvation by faith in the finished work of Christ.
I wonder if anyone, other than the Lord Jesus, ever had such a burden for their loved ones?
I believe Paul meant exactly what he said when he uttered those words. He was heart broken because of the blindness of his people. He would be willing to be cut off from Christ if it would save Israel. He was willing to endure the horrors of hell for eternity if it would save his countrymen from that same fate. But Paul knew that if he was accursed and spent eternity in hell it couldn’t save his brethren. He knew that only faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ could save anyone. That is why he preached the Gospel without regard of the cost to himself. It cost him his life, but shortly before Nero chopped his head off he wrote "I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith!"
Other than the Lord Jesus Christ, I don’t believe any person ever lived who so completely surrendered their body, soul, and spirit to the will of God like the apostle Paul did.
Romans 9:3b-5: “my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."
Paul was a free born Jew, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee of the Pharisees who at one time was separated from the righteousness of God by the Jewish religion he practiced. Now he knew the Lord Jesus Christ and the free pardon of his sin, and he enjoyed the grace of God that is greater than all our sins. God’s grace does for us what the law could never do.
In Romans 3:1 we find the following question; "What advantage then hath the Jew?" Verses 4 and 5 here answers with these statements.
First of all, to the Israelites "pertaineth the adoption." They were adopted as God's people from among all the nations of the world. The adoption referred to here is not individual adoption, but of national Israel, all twelve tribes. It’s quite different from the adoption in the New Testament where the believer in Jesus Christ is adopted into the family of God. This adoption refers to a nation, not to an individual.
To the Israelites “pertaineth the glory.” The Shekinah cloud of God's glory that led the Israelites in their wilderness wandering, was given only to the Jews.
To the Israelites were given “the covenants.” The Abrahamic, the Mosaic, the Davidic Covenant were given to the Israelites. All these covenants are still theirs in spite of failure on their part. Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.’ Ephesians 2:12.
But now, in this wonderful day of grace, Jew and Gentile become the sons of God by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, however, in the beginning the covenants were given to Israel.
To Israel “the law was given.” The Gentiles "have not the law." Romans 2:14. Those who would mix law and grace, and those who would put us under the law today, should make a study of the law and to whom the law pertains.
The law was given to a specific people, at a specific time, in a specific place under conditions God ordered. The believer is not under the law. Romans 10:4: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
Israel was given “the service of God.” First in the Tabernacle, later in the Temple, the service in the worship of God was performed only by Israelites. No Gentile was allowed there. Offering sacrifices, the tithes, and the Feasts of Jehovah, all pertained to Israel only.
“The promises.” It’s true that the Redeemer was first promised to the whole human race in the Garden of Eden, but He would ultimately come from the seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, through the tribe of Judah (Jacob’s son) and the house of David. Jesus Christ was "a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” The Jews were called “the circumcision” because they practiced that rite.
Jesus came first to the Jew. In Hebrews 7:6, Abraham is described as "him that had the promises." The promised Redeemer who would buy back what the first Adam lost would come from the nation of Israel.
Through Israel came “the fathers.” What nation in ancient history, or in any other age, ever produced fathers like Abraham, the father of many nations, and Isaac and Jacob? Other nations have produced great men, but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have the honor of being not only natural, but divinely chosen leaders for Almighty God. No nation on earth has produced such men as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
We see an additional item here in “the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all.” There is one honor that outshines all the other honors for Israel. The word "whose" changes to "whom." The fathers were Israelies, but Christ, although He came through the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did not belong to Israel alone. He came from them in His human relationship, but He was God Almighty in flesh, and He came to lay down His life for the sins of the whole world. Verse 5b: "of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." However, Israel still stands alone in many of the phases of God's program concerning man and the eternity that lies ahead.
Romans 9:6-7: "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." The promise was not for all the nation of Israel. "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." There is a distinction between those who are only the natural descendants of Abraham and those who are not only descendants of Abraham but who also are of his spiritual seed.
There is a definite distinction here between the natural Israelites and those who were also men of faith.
God’s promises and covenants were not conditional, they didn’t depend on the faithfulness of the people, but on the faithfulness of God. There is tremendous failure on the part of Israel but the Word of God must be fulfilled: "If we are faithless, He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself." II Timothy 2:13.
Gentiles believers are not in view here, although in other places Gentile believers are also called "Abraham's children," or "Abraham's spiritual seed." Paul is dealing here with only the Israelites, and he makes a distinction between the natural and the spiritual Israel. Galatians 3:6-7 “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”
Further proof of these statements comes from verse 7. "Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." Abraham had other children beside Isaac. Abraham’s first son, Ishmael, was born of an Egyptian slave girl before Isaac was born of Sarah. After Sarah died, Abraham had six sons by Keturah, and yet the promised Messiah must come from the seed of Isaac. (verse 7)
Romans 9:8-9: "That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son."
This points out that those who are children of the flesh are not necessarily the children of God. Isaac was the child God promised Abraham and Sarah, and descendants of Isaac, those who believed in God, were called the children of the promise. The spiritual seed through which the Messiah would be born would come through them.
Verses 10 through 29 continue to illustrate God’s sovereign right to chose whom He will.
Romans 9:10-14: "And not only this; but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid."
In the case of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah, even before these children were born, before they had sinned or done any good, God said, in Genesis 25:23, "The elder shall serve the younger" The reason for this statement from God had nothing to do with works, it was so “that the purpose of God might stand.”(Verse 11) It was in God’s program and it is God’s right to choose whom He will.
In the case of Ishmael, some might claim that he was set aside because he was born of a slave girl, but that argument can’t stand when you review it along side the case of Esau and Jacob. These boys were twins.
Esau was born first. God had decreed that this first-born should be subject to his younger brother, and the only reason given is that it was according to the purpose of Almighty God.
Due to the length and importance of this subject, we’ll stop here and continue in the next message titled Romans 9, Message #2, with how the purposes of God will stand regardless of man or man’s intervention.