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 Romans Chapter 9 – Part One

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PostSubject: Romans Chapter 9 – Part One   Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:07 am

Romans 9:1-5

God’s Righteousness Revealed in Sovereign Choice

Since God is the self-existent Being who is the Creator of everything that exists outside Himself, He is sovereign and can therefore use and dispose of His Creation as He wishes. This sovereignty reveals not only His personal righteousness but also His provided righteousness.

God’s sovereign choice enunciated

Paul here discussed God’s sovereign choice because of a practical problem. The Jews gloried in the fact that as Israelites they were God’s Chosen People (Deu_7:6; cf. Rom_2:17-20; Rom_3:1-2). But now in God’s program of salvation in the church, Jewish involvement was decreasing while Gentile participation was becoming dominant. Had God, then, abandoned the Jewish people? This is ultimately explained by God’s sovereign choice, a principle which has always been in operation even within the Chosen People of Israel and between Israel and other nations. Now this principle operates in God’s purposes for Israel and the church and in His dealings with Jews and Gentiles within the church.

Israel’s Privileges

By repetition in positive and negative terms (internally attested by the witness of his own conscience in the presence of the Holy Spirit) Paul affirmed his deep anguish of heart over the rejection of the gospel by the vast majority of Jews. We will see in the beginning of this chapter a sorrowful Paul. As we have said before in these lessons, Paul was a Pharisee and he never would quite give up on his Jewish brothers. He went to great lengths to try to reach them over and over. His greatest opposition came from his own people.  In many cases, Paul practiced the old Jewish law to try to win them to Christ, but even this failed and Paul went away sorrowful.
“Conscience” and “In the Holy Spirit” is speaking of only when the Spirit controls the conscience can it be trusted, but it remains imperfect and its warnings must always be evaluated against the Word of God.
It is a very good idea that any time you hear something you are not sure of, that you confirm it by the Word of God. That’s what the Bereans’ did in Acts 17:10-11 “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming [thither] went into the synagogue of the Jews.” “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
His desire for their salvation was so strong that he was at the point of wishing (imperf. tense, I could wish) that he were cursed and cut off from Christ for his kinsmen, the Israelites. The Greek word for accursed is anathema meaning “to devote to destruction in eternal hell”.
We see, here, in this verse that Paul would have gone to almost any length to have his Israelite brothers come to Christ. He says that he would even give up his own salvation, if this would have saved them.  Paul makes it clear, here, that these Israelites are his brothers in the flesh, not the spirit. His spiritual brothers are Christians.
Although Paul understood the exchange he was suggesting was impossible, it was still the sincere expression of his deep love for his fellow Jews.

Paul then listed seven spiritual privileges which belonged to the people of Israel as God’s chosen nation: the adoption as sons (cf. Exo_4:22), the divine glory (cf. Exo_16:10; Exo_24:17; Exo_40:34; 1Ki_8:11), the covenants (Gen_15:18; 2Sa_7:12-16; Jer_31:31-34), the receiving of the Law (Deu_5:1-22), the temple worship (latreia, “sacred service,” which may also include service in the tabernacle), and the promises (esp. of the coming Messiah). This just means that God had chosen the Hebrews (Israelites) to give the law to, and he had chosen them to be a peculiar people set aside to worship Him. God's first choice for the salvation message to go to was these Israelites.
Three times in the New Testament the word “covenants” is used in the plural. All but one of God’s covenants with man are eternal and unilateral, that is God promised to accomplish something based on His own character and not on the response or actions of the promised beneficiary. The 6 biblical covenants include:
(1)   The covenant with Noah.
(2)   The covenant with Abraham.
(3)   The covenant of law given through Moses at Sinai (The Mosaic Covenant)
(4)   The priestly covenant
(5)   The covenant of an eternal kingdom through David’s greatest Son
(6)   The New Covenant.
All but the Mosaic Covenant are eternal and unilateral. (Unilateral means something which is done by only one party) It is neither, since Israel’s sin abrogated it and it has been replaced by the New Covenant.
Also the Israelites were in the line of promise from its beginning in the patriarchs (cf. Mat_1:1-16; Rom_1:3) to its fulfillment in the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. The fathers mentioned here are the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through whom the promises of the Messiah were fulfilled.
“Christ … God blessed forever” is not intended primarily as a benediction, but as an affirmation of the sovereignty and deity of Christ.

Romans 9:6-9

The Choice Illustrated

Isaac over Ishmael

The failure of the Jews to respond to the gospel of Christ did not mean God’s Word had failed. Instead this rejection was simply the current example of the principle of God’s sovereign choice established in the Old Testament. Paul reminded his readers of a truth he had presented earlier: For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, that is, spiritual Israel (cf. Rom_2:28-29). This refers specifically to the privileges and promises God had revealed to Israel. Not all Israel who are of Israel means that not all the physical descendants of Abraham are true heirs of the promise.
Those who follow God are His children. The followers of God which are not true Jews are considered grafted in Jews. Not those who were born into the house, but those who chose to follow God.
Then Paul gave three Old Testament illustrations of God’s sovereignty (Isaac and Ishmael, Rom_9:7-9; Jacob and Esau, Rom_9:10-13; and Pharaoh, Rom_9:14-18). The first two show that God made a sovereign choice among the physical descendants of Abraham in establishing the spiritual line of promise. Ishmael, born to Hagar (Gen_16:1-16) — and the six sons of Keturah as well (Gen_25:1-4) — were Abraham’s descendants (sperma), but they were not counted as Abraham’s children (tekna, “born ones”) in the line of promise. Instead, as God told Abraham (Gen_21:12), It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned (lit., “in Isaac seed [sperma] will be called to you”). Isaac was the son of promise. He represented the Spirit.  Abraham had a son of the flesh (Ishmael). The promises God had made to Abraham came through the Spirit, not through the flesh. You see from this that the Spirit of God and the promises thereof are for the Spirit, and not for the flesh.
Galatians 3:29 "And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
To illustrate the truth of verse 6, Paul reminds his readers that even the racial and national promises made to Abraham were not made to every physical descendant of his, but only to those who came through Isaac.
Paul repeated the principle for emphasis in different words: It is not the natural children (lit., “the born ones of the flesh”) who are God’s children (tekna, “born ones of God”), but it is the children (tekna) of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring (sperma). “Children of the flesh” is a reference to Abrahams other children by Hagar and Keturah who were not chosen to receive the national promises made to him.
“Children of God: Paul’s point is just as not all of Abraham’s descendants who belonged to the physical people of God, or national Israel - not all of those who are true children of Abraham through Isaac are the true spiritual people of God and enjoy the promises made to Abraham’s spiritual children.
To be a physical descendant of Abraham is not enough; one must be chosen by God (cf. “chosen” in Rom_8:33) and must believe in Him (Rom_4:3, Rom_4:22-24). God’s assurance that the promise would come through Isaac, not Ishmael, was given to Abraham, see scripture from Gen. 18:10 “And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard [it] in the tent door, which [was] behind him.”
Genesis 17:19 "And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him."  You see again here that the promise that God made to Abraham was to come through the child of promise (Isaac) the child of the spirit.
We can see the chain of blessings from the following verse in Genesis 25:11 "And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi."

Romans 9:10-13

Jacob over Esau
The second Old Testament illustration of God’s sovereign choice is drawn from the second generation of Jewish ancestry. Apparently God purposed to establish this principle clearly at the beginning of His relationship with His Chosen People. This illustration emphasizes God’s sovereignty even more than the first since it involves God’s choice of one twin over another. (In the case of Abraham’s sons, God chose the child of one woman over the child of another woman.) In addition, in the case of Rebecca’s children God’s choice was indicated before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad. This demonstrated that God’s sovereign choice was not by works, even foreseen works, but by Him who calls (cf. “called” in Rom_1:6; Rom_8:28, Rom_8:30). Rebecca, also, had 2 sons; one of the flesh (Esau) and a son who the promises of God would flow through (Jacob) whose name would be changed to Israel.
God’s plan (Rom_8:28; Rom_9:11), and not man’s works (Rom_4:2-6), is the basis of His election. Rebecca was informed, The older will serve the younger (cf. Gen_25:23), a divine choice confirmed by God’s declaration, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated (cf. Mal_1:2-3). This business of election is sometimes hard to explain.  We find that all through the Bible there are people who have been chosen out and called to do a certain thing for God. A very good example of that is John the Baptist who seemed to live for one purpose (to tell of the coming Messiah). God has elected that certain things will happen to get the job done that He wants done.
We see in the verse above, that He has chosen Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to funnel the spiritual blessings to all the believers in the world.
I Peter 1:2 "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."  
We see from this, that God actually knew from the foundation of the world who would choose to follow Him and who would not. He did not predestine, He foreknew.
If we look back into Genesis we find this about Esau and Jacob as this was told to Rebecca.
Gen. 25:23 “And the LORD said unto her, Two nations [are] in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and [the one] people shall be stronger than [the other] people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”
We see in this that Ishmael (son of the flesh) served Isaac (son of the spirit). We, also, see in this that Esau (the oldest son) served Jacob (the younger son). Since we are looking at the spiritual side of these lessons, we cannot overlook the fact that the law was given first to the physical house of Israel, and that grace was given to the spiritual house of Israel (Christians). Grace is better than the law.
Esau, the older, did not actually serve Jacob, his younger twin; but Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, did (cf. 1Sa_14:47; 2Sa_8:14; 1Ki_11:15-16; 1Ki_22:47; 2Ki_14:7). Jacob and Esau was born approximately in 2005 B.C. Esau was the first born and when he was born, it was discovered that Jacob was holding onto his heel. He was called "heel-grabber". It is of Hebrew origin, and its meaning is "he who supplants, trips up another and takes his place."
Esau was also the father of the Edomites
We know that God would not hate Esau without a cause. God hated Esau, not because of who he was, but because he did not regard his birthright as being very valuable. In fact, he thought so little of it that he sold it to his brother for a bowl of soup.
Malachi 1:2-3 “I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us? [Was] not Esau Jacob's brother? Saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,” “And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”
The blessing of God through Abraham and Isaac then would come through the second son Jacob. From him, the 12 tribes of Israel would come. I say, again, God did not just hate Esau without a cause. Esau turned his back on God.
Now having said all of that let me explain the love and hate being mentioned.
Actual emotional hatred for Esau and his offspring is not the point here. Genesis mentions no divine hatred toward Esau but Obad. 1-21 indicated that the Lord’s hatred was against Esau’s idolatrous descendants. In the same way, the Lord’s love for Jacob refers to his descendants who were His sovereignly elected people through whom the world’s Redeemer would come.
The love/hate relationship language does not signify a comparative love in which God loved Jacob more and Esau less. Rather, the context here speaks of love as “choosing for intimate fellowship” and hate as “not choosing for intimate fellowship” in the realm of redemption.
God’s “love” for Jacob was revealed in His choice of Jacob and God’s “hatred” for Esau was seen in His rejecting Esau for the line of promise. Hatred in this sense is not absolute but relative to a higher choice (cf. Mat_6:24; Luk_14:26; Joh_12:25).

Romans 9:14-18

With the words, What then shall we say? (cf. Rom_4:1; Rom_6:1; Rom_8:31) Paul introduced the question undoubtedly in his readers’ minds, Is God unjust in choosing Isaac over Ishmael, and Jacob over Esau? The Greek negative particle (mē) with a question implies a negative response. Paul responded in his usual emphatic way, Not at all! (mē genoito) If this had been predestined some would say this was unfair, but this was not predestined, only known ahead of time by God.
Paul had once again anticipated his reader’s objection to Paul’s theology: If God were to choose some people for salvation and pass over others apart from their merits or actions, that would make god arbitrary and unfair.
The issue in such matters is not justice but sovereign decision, as God’s word to Moses (Exo_33:19) quoted by Paul indicates. As the sovereign God, He has the right to show mercy to whomever He chooses. It is God's world and we are His creation. He can do with us whatever He chooses to do. We are His creation and He is the Creator.
This is quoted from Exodus 33:19. In response to the accusation that such a teaching about God’s sovereign election is inconsistent with His fairness, Paul cites this text from the Old Testament that clearly indicates that God is absolutely sovereign and does elect who will be saved without violating His other attributes. He determines who receives mercy.
In fact, He is not under obligation to extend mercy to anyone. Therefore experiencing His mercy does not… depend on man’s desire (lit., “the one willing”) or effort (lit., “the one running”). No one deserves or can earn His mercy. Many will seek to do the things of God, but many will do these things for the wrong reasons. Just being a good person and doing things their way according to how they believe, no matter what they do, will not be shown mercy. We live in a society today that this has become the norm. Many have created their own God instead of obeying God’s Word. This will be a fatal mistake as many in that day will cry out “Lord, Lord” but the Lord will tell them “Depart, I never knew you.”
It is God and He alone who shows mercy. It is His gracious choice of certain people unto eternal life. Salvation is not initiated by human choice and even faith is a gift of God. Salvation is never merited by human effort.
I Peter 2:9-10 "But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:" "Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."  
We read, also, Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
The Apostle Paul then presented his third illustration, the Egyptian Pharaoh of the Exodus. To him God said through Moses, I raised you up (i.e., brought you onto the scene of history) to display My power in you and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth (cf. Exo_9:16). God’s power (cf. Rom_9:22) was demonstrated as He freed the Israelites from under Pharaoh’s hand. And other nations heard about it and were awed (Exo_15:14-16; Jos_2:10-11; Jos_9:9; 1Sa_4:Cool. This Old Testament quote proves that God does sovereignly choose who will serve His purposes and how. The “raised thee up” was often used to describe the rise of leaders and countries to positions of prominence. Pharaoh no doubt thought his position and actions were of his own free choice to accomplish his own purposes, but in reality he was there to serve Go’s purpose.
We know that the 10 plagues that came upon Egypt were for the purpose of discrediting the false gods of Egypt. Egypt represents the world. God shows, through Pharaoh's rebellion, that the gods of this world are no match for the real God. We see an almost identical Scripture in the Old Testament account of this event.
Exodus 9:16 "And in very deed for this [cause] have I raised thee up, for to shew [in] thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth."  
I Samuel 2:7-8 "The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up." “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them."  
Look also at Proverbs 16:4 "The LORD hath made all [things] for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil."  This all speaks for itself, we need no more comment here.
It is significant that Paul introduced this quotation with the words, For the Scripture says, for he equated the words of God with the words of Scripture. Paul concluded, God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy (cf. Rom_9:15) and He hardens whom He wants to harden (“make stubborn”; cf. Exo_4:21; Exo_7:3; Exo_9:12; Exo_10:27; Exo_14:4, Exo_14:8; cf. Exo_14:17). Have you even read that God hardened someone’s heart and wondered why our God would do that to someone? Let’s examine this a little closer.
The Greek word for hardens literally means to make something hard, but is often used figuratively to refer to making stubborn or obstinate. Then times Exodus refers to God’s hardening Pharaoh’s heart, and other times to Pharaoh’s hardening his own heart.
This does not mean that God actively created unbelief or some other evil in Pharaoh’s heart, but rather that He withdrew all the divine influences that ordinarily acted as a restraint to sin and allowed Pharaoh’s wicked heart to pursue its sin unabated.
Exodus 4:21" And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go."
We also see this very same thing in Joshua 11:20 "For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, [and] that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses."
We are not to question God's motives. In both of these instances, this taught us that God is even in control of Satan and all his evil forces. God can cause them to destroy themselves especially by creating fear in their hearts by allowing them to believe a delusion. Remember the story of Gideon?
Because of God’s choice, Pharaoh then hardened his own heart (Exo_7:13-14, Exo_7:22; Exo_8:15, Exo_8:19, Exo_8:32; Exo_9:7, Exo_9:34-35). All this shows that God chooses and works sovereignly, but not arbitrarily. Yet Pharaoh was responsible for his actions.
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Romans Chapter 9 – Part One
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