Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
A reading from Romans: Romans 9:6-13 (NLT)
Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children. For God had promised, “I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he married Rebekah, she gave birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.) She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.”
Reflection: Romans 9:6-13 (John Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World)
The plan of God for Jews and Gentiles: (Romans 9–11)
The dominant theme [of these three chapters] is Jewish unbelief, together with the problems which it raised…. Each chapter handles a different aspect of God’s relation to Israel, past, present and future:
- Israel’s fall (9: 1– 33): God’s purpose of election
- Israel’s fault (10: 1– 21): God’s dismay over her disobedience
- Israel’s future (11: 1– 32): God’s long-term design
- Doxology (11: 33– 36): God’s wisdom and generosity
Israel’s fall: God’s purpose of election (9:1–33)
Question 1: Has God’s promise failed? (6– 13).
Israel had failed, or literally ‘fallen’. For God had promised to bless them, but they had forfeited his blessing through unbelief. Israel’s failure was her own failure, however; it was not due to the failure of God’s word. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel (6b).
There have always been two Israels, those physically descended from Israel (Jacob) on the one hand, and his spiritual progeny on the other; and God’s promise was addressed to the latter, who had received it. The apostle has already made this distinction earlier in his letter between those who were Jews outwardly, whose circumcision was in the body, and those who were Jews inwardly, who had received a circumcision of the heart by the Spirit.
Esau forfeited his birthright because of his own worldliness and lost his rightful blessing because of his brother’s deceit, so that human responsibility was interwoven with divine sovereignty in their story. We should also recall that the rejected brothers, Ishmael and Esau, were both circumcised, and therefore in some sense they too were members of God’s covenant, and were both promised lesser blessings. Nevertheless, both stories illustrate the same key truth of ‘God’s purpose according to election’. So God’s promise did not fail; but it was fulfilled only in the Israel within Israel.
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen