Romans 9 - Part 6
What is the context for our discussion? Paul has just explained that God has the right to make two peoples; One people destined for wrath and another destined for glory. Paul then examined who was included in this group of “vessels of mercy” destined for glory. He states that it is not just the Jews, but also the Gentiles. He then quotes a passage from Hosea in order to give the Old Testament background for the inclusion of Gentiles as the people of God.
Paul will now give us the Old Testament background for the rejection of all but a few of the Jews (namely the remnant).
Consider the two quotations from Isaiah:
Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.”
Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us to a posterity, We would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”
There is not a lot in these two quotations that needs to be expounded upon. The basic idea is a question regarding who are the Children of God. We will remember that this discussion started in the very beginning of the chapter. These Children of God are namely those whom are vessels of mercy and prepared for Glory. Paul, is finally going to conclude his argument for the inclusion of Gentiles and the rejection of many Jews. This passage deals with the rejection of many Jews. Basically the idea is that God has always maintained that though physical Israel is big, only a remnant will be saved.
One interesting bit of theology that can be picked up from the second quotation is that the people understand that but by the special grace of God, they would be in exactly the same position as Sodom or Gomorrah. This attitude of “But for the Grace of God” seems to be severely lacking in many evangelical settings. I pray that it is something that we never lose.
So then, after an entire chapter of argumentation, What shall we say then? Paul will not draw towards a conclusion (although the full discussion continues into chapter 11).
That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith;”
What is the point? The Gentiles weren’t seeking righteousness but they have attained it. Why? Remember v. 16 “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” This is exactly the situation here. It is not based upon the Gentiles who have strived for righteousness, but by God who has shown mercy.
but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.
The Jews, on the other hand were striving after righteousness, but as is always the case when we depend on ourselves, we fall woefully short. Israel is no different, and anything short of faith in the historic Christ of the Gospel is not sufficient for salvation.
They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.
Jesus, the Christ, is the great offense. The God-man is foolishness to the Gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews (1Cor 1:24). They have seen the Christ but there eyes have not been made upon. They cannot see the beauty of Christ and cannot believe in Him. Accordingly, they will be disappointed. In fact, we are all in this woeful condition. We cannot conjure up faith. The Jews were legitimately seeking after righteousness, but could not manufacture it. Just as the Jews were utterly unable to attain righteousness, so to are we. However, praise be to God who has chosen to open the eyes of some and display His glory on us vessels of mercy prepared beforehand for Glory.
Let us learn to love this truth. We all are infinitely deserving of an eternity in Hell. Paul has argued this point throughout Romans. He begins by saying that whether Jew or Greek we have fallen short. He then reminds us that in Adam we have fallen and are dead. He has declared that we must be set free from the body of this death. Not one Jew, nor Gentile, ought to see Heaven’s glory. Yet, God, in His amazing plan, has determined to save some in order to make his glory known. While we deserve destruction, God has prepared us beforehand for Glory. What a great and glorious, merciful, and gracious God we serve. Let us once and for all see the terrible condition we were in and see the beauty of God’s saving love for those whom He has chosen. There are some who would immediately like to talk about Moral Responsibility. I absolutely affirm that we are morally responsible for all of our choices and do have legitimate choices that have legitimate consequences. However, let us please not jump ship so quickly. Let the truth that Paul has argued in Romans 9 get a hold of you. Get a glimpse of the Glory of Christ and allow it to utterly transform you.
In Christ alone,