Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wrapping Up Romans 9 and what is not a "Terrible Decree"

27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved. 28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."
Paul is certainly talking a lot about Israel. He references Isaiah 10:22. After reading that chapter - Isaiah is telling the people of Israel not to worry about the Assyrians because the LORD will deal with them after He has used them for His purpose of chastising His people. Even though they are so many... as the sand of the sea... He will save a remnant of Israel. They are not to have expected to float through the times of the Gentiles as a "successful nation" without chastisement for having turned from the Lord. They had prepared themselves for this destruction. When the kingdom comes, as described in chapter 11 of Isaiah, there will be a remnant. There had been chastisement and destruction, but there will also be fulfillment of the promises and mercy.

29 And as Isaiah said before: "Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah."
Paul goes back to Isaiah 1:9. In that chapter, the Lord opens the book of Isaiah expressing His wrath toward the people of Israel in no uncertain terms. If God had not shown mercy for their shortcomings, the nation of Israel would be no better of than the worst of the gentiles! He also calls them to reason together how their sins can be washed away.

What is Paul's point in referring to these passages in Isaiah? As Paul has been saying all along, some of the Israelites are receiving mercy at this time ... but so are some of the gentiles! The Jews did not deserve to find favor with God. Jacob wasn't any better than Essau. The gentiles do not deserve to find favor with God, either. No one deserves this mercy and grace. All have fallen short. He points out that the nation Israel has failed in faithfulness, in large part. This is to put to rest the idea that the fellowship of believers is a Jewish thing. Yes, the Jews will find mercy... and so will the Gentiles... through faith... which is not a Jewish thing like law was, but a thing that transcends the law, and the nation.

30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
There Paul turns to Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16. This is why we are in this age, the times of the gentiles. The Jews had, by and large, stumbled at the Rock, but all those who believe in Him will be a part of the church, the current expression of the household of God, in faith.

This chapter was not about "the terrible decree."
It was about God patiently working through history,
through His chosen people the Jews,
through His own intervention in what they had made to be a mess of things,
through his Son, Jesus Christ... to make a way for all people to come to Him in faith, both Jew and gentile.

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