God’s Sovereign Wisdom and Grace towards Israel.
God’s Sovereign Choice: (Romans 9:1-5)
The eighth chapter ends with assurance of our salvation and with the doctrinal part of the epistle. He has explained the divine provisions for our salvation. From chapter 12-16, we see Paul’s practical exhortations. In between from chapter 9-11, Paul reassures the nation of Israel of their place in the kingdom of God. Despite all the gifts and promises, the majority of Jews failed to acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. Paul was grieving over their rejection of Christ and wished he could do something about it (Romans 9:3). Meanwhile he is dealing with the problem of their unbelief. They are the chosen people of God. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. They had the privilege of worshiping the true God. To them belong the fathers and from them born Christ according to the flesh (9:4-5). But some of them thought that God had failed in his promises. Paul reassures that God has not failed them. In Chapter 9-11, Paul gives a detailed answer to this question. God's promises to Israel never guaranteed salvation based on ethnicity. Paul was willing to be cut off from Christ for the sake of his brothers and sisters in the flesh. He knew that his eternal life was purchased by the blood Christ and it cannot be lost. Yet he was willing to die for the salvation of Israel. Those who are saved must have the same concern for their unsaved relatives and friends.
Sovereignty in God’s election: (Romans 9:6-13)
Jesus came to fulfill God's promises to his people but most Israelites rejected Jesus (John 1:11). It seems like God's promises have not come true because most Jews rejected Jesus. Paul answers this important question in this chapter. All physical descendants of Abraham are not children of promise. For the scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted as the seed”. The children of promise are those who believe in the God of Abraham. God's promise is not guaranteed on the basis of ethnicity (9:7-11). Paul says that, if Israel as a nation has been set aside, it is because of their rejection of the gospel of Christ. Gospel is free and anybody could believe it. God does all things according to His eternal purposes. In this chapter we see the sovereignty of God in elections. Chapter 10, explains the moral responsibility. In chapter 11, we see the final purpose of God, fulfilling his promise toward Israel and their restoration. Paul gives the example of God’s election of choosing Isaac and Jacob. Salvation is never based on human merit but entirely by divine grace and mercy. Esau and Jacob have the same Jewish heritage. Yet God loved “Jacob and hated Esau''. Here God is speaking of two nations, Israel and Edom. It is not that God hated Esau with animosity but it simply means God preferred Jacob. To us it might appear to be unjust because of our limited knowledge. In God’s redemptive purposes, He did not wait to see how Jacob and Esau would turn out before He elected one of them. Predestination of Jacob was based on foreknowledge of God (Rom 8:29-30). God's eternal purpose comes first, then comes foreknowledge and predestination. It was God's free choice to give mercy to whomever he pleases. We can only worship and wonder knowing that our salvation is only because of God's sovereign grace.
Sovereignty and the Mercy of God: (Romans 9:14-24)
Paul continues to explain that God's grace has always been the determining factor in salvation. Many people have difficulty understanding the doctrine of election and see God as unfair in the choice of Jacob. Paul’s response is that “Certainly not”. God always works on the just principle (Genesis 18:25). God is not obligated to give grace to any of us . He shows mercy to anyone He chooses. God’s mercy is based on His character and not on the merits of man. The whole nation of Israel deserved to be destroyed because of their disobedience (Exodus 32). But only three thousand died because of the sovereign mercy of God. He is the merciful God (Romans 9:15). God is also sovereign when it comes to His judgment (Romans 9:17). God did not say he made Pharaoh for judgment. God permitted him to be the king of Egypt. Pharaoh hardened his heart and disobeyed God so that the purpose of God may be fulfilled (Exodus 5:2; 7:3). God’s purpose was to display his power. His initial hardening of heart was cemented when God stopped dealing with him. No man can reject God’s council and escape his judgment. Some would say, God cannot find fault with me because this is the way God made me. God made man in his own image and was perfect. Man is what he is today because of his own sin. God is not answerable to man for what he does. God does all things according to his eternal council and character. It is the responsibility of the creature to trust the wisdom of the creator. God does not make one person evil and another person good. God makes no man a sinner. We are sinners by our choice. The vessels of mercy are those who have received God’s mercy. The vessels of wrath are those who reject God’s mercy. God is not obligated to show grace and mercy to any of us who willfully strayed away from him. Through the preaching of the gospel God is calling people to himself from Jews and Gentiles (9:23-24). God's chosen people include not only Jews but gentiles also.
God’s Sovereignty and election were foretold: (Romans 9:25-33)
God never intended to limit his promises and election to only Jews. Paul quotes the Old Testament Scriptures to prove the doctrine of election. The divine election is not a new doctrine. “I will call them my people who were not my people” (Hosea 2:23). The gentiles never had been the people of God. God is calling people from all nations to himself by the preaching of the gospel. Someone has said "If there was nothing in us to bring us into grace, then there is nothing in us to take us out of grace". God has absolute power over our salvation. Here we see the principle of divine election. Although Israel rejected God, they were not utterly destroyed. God has a remnant for Himself always (Isaiah 10:22). Being Jewish has never guaranteed salvation. Israel sought righteousness by their deeds of the law but they have failed. But gentiles are justified by faith in Christ. Salvation is always based on the faith in the promise of God. Israel stumbled at their Messiah because they did not seek righteousness by faith in Christ (9:33). Our good deeds can never produce the perfection that God demands. Righteousness comes only through faith in Christ as a gift (John 1:12,13). Spiritual life does not come through physical birth. Your parents may be Christians, but that won't make you a child of God. The salvation of the gentiles may have been surprising to many Jews, but it was predicted in the Old Testament. Pray that God would help us to take the gospel to all the nations.