Romans 9:6-16

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

April 14, 1999

Introduction

Paul has begun a new section where he will be dealing with the temporary removal of Israel from their privileged place as being Godís "chosen nation". Heíll be talking about their being "cut off" (ch. 11) from the tree and the believing Gentiles being grafted in. But before he can get to this subject, he is going to head off any criticism that he might just be bitter at the Jews. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Heís shown us how much he loves the Jews and how great their privileges were:

(Rom 9:4-5 KJV) Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; {5} Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

:6-13

:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

taken none effect Ė ekpipto Ė to fall out of, to fall down from, to fall off; metaph. to fall from a thing, to fall powerless, to fall to the ground, be without effect

JF&B: "Think not that I mourn over the total loss of Israel; for that would involve the failure of God's word to Abraham; but not all that belong to the natural seed, and go under the name of "Israel", are the Israel of God's irrevocable choice."

:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Abraham actually had quite a few sons.

When he was 86 years old, he had Ishmael by his wifeís servant, Hagar.

When he was 100 years old, Isaac was born to Sarah.

After Sarah died, Abraham married another gal, Keturah,

(Gen 25:2 KJV) And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

Father Abraham had many sons. Many sons had father Abraham.

But the point was that only one of his sons was called the chosen "seed".

:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

counted for Ė logizomai Ė to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

:9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

God has promised Abraham that he would have descendants. But by the time he was eighty five years old, he still had no children. So his wife Sarah cooked up a plan. She decided to settle for a "second-hand" child by having Abraham get her handmaid, Hagar, pregnant. Abraham agreed, and the resulting child was named Ishmael (Genesis 16). It seems that Ishmael was the father of many of the Arab peoples. There have been nothing but problems since between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac.

The plan to have a child through Hagar was a plan of the flesh, the sin nature. It wasnít Godís idea. Ishmael was the child of the flesh. He was conceived solely through a fleshly plan and wasnít the child God had promised to Abraham.

It was Isaac who was the promised child. God had promised him to Abraham and Sarah. When Abraham was ninety-nine years old, the Lord visited Abraham and Sarah and made them a promise (as quoted here in Romans):

(Gen 18:14 KJV) Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Later, after Isaac was born to Sarah, when Sarah wanted to have Hagar and her son kicked out of the family, God reassured Abraham that this was the right thing to do.

Genesis 21:12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

In fact, later when God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac on an altar,

(Gen 22:2 KJV) And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

God didnít even consider Ishmael to be a son of Abraham.

Lesson

Your fleshly deeds donít count.

Sometimes we get the idea, "Well, as long as the job gets done, who cares how it gets done". Wrong. We get impatient with Godís plan for us and we want so much for something to happen, we go and try to make it happen.

Abraham wanted to have a son desperately. But as far as God was concerned, it wasnít until he had the son of promise that he really had a son.

Donít get me wrong. We can also make the mistake of thinking that God has to do everything. We can sit on the sofa and think, "I want the job of promise, so Iíll just sit here until Bill Gates calls me up and asks me to take his place". That too is wrong.

But there needs to be a balance of Godís leading us, and our responding to His leading.

God promised Abraham a son, but Abraham still had to get his wife pregnant. Itís just that he had to get the RIGHT wife pregnant!

Applications

Finding a spouse.

I know that some folks start getting desperate when it comes to marriage. They get to the place where theyíll do about anything to find a spouse. But are you going to find Godís promise at the Cowboy Boogie Bar, or at church?

I think another place folks get tripped up in is the area of trying to push romance before friendship. Steve has been teaching the youth some pretty neat principles when it comes to dating. Rather than trying to establish a romantic relationship first, heís encouraging the kids to try to learn to be friends first. If you can build a relationship on the foundation of a good friendship, then itís going to be a much stronger relationship than one built solely on romance or physical attraction.

Ministry

I see this happening as well in people who are desiring certain positions in ministry. For some reason, whether for good or bad motives, a person has their eye on being the person in charge or up front. But if youíre not in the place where God thinks youíre ready to be up front, then the last place you want to be is up front. Itís not all that itís cracked up to be. Too many folks donít want to pay the price of learning humility, obedience, submission, and faithfulness. We can push ourselves and others to get ourselves up front only to find out that itís not the Holy Spirit at work, itís just us.

I received Godís call to be a pastor when I was eighteen. I was chomping at the bit, ready to go, but I had a wise pastor counsel me to make sure I was prepared. So I went to school and began to learn ministry by being a youth pastor. When we became a part of Calvary Chapel Anaheim back in 1982, we began a small home Bible Study. I loved it. When we got to about 15 people meeting in our home I thought that it was time. It was time to start a church. I talked a number of the folks into committing to be the "core group" with me, and we talked to Pastor Mark and even set a date for when to start "Calvary Chapel of Placentia". But the problem I was having was that I couldnít help but think that I was really the one pushing this whole thing. I had twisted peopleís arms. And it began to dawn on me that I was heading off a cliff. We called the whole thing off four days before we were to have our sending off ceremony. As it turned out, all of the core group people moved out of town within six months. Several of the couples even divorced. And besides, Bob Kopeny was in the process of starting the REAL Calvary Chapel of Placentia. I wasnít ready. It took me another nine years of training before I was ready. I had lots of lessons to learn. Iím still learning.

:10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

Paul now moves on to the story of Isaacís children.

:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

having done Ė prasso Ė to exercise, practice, to be busy with, carry on

They hadnít been born yet. They hadnít had a chance to practice ANYTHING!

election Ė ekloge Ė the act of picking out, choosing; of the act of God's free will by which before the foundation of the world he decreed his blessings to certain persons

purpose Ė prothesis Ė a setting forth of a thing, placing of it in view, the shewbread; a purpose

might stand Ė meno Ė to remain, abide (present subjunctive)

him that calleth Ė kaleo Ė to call

The idea is that God has a purpose in mind. He has something that He wants done. And so He elects, He chooses, He picks something out. God makes His choice so that when the thing comes to pass, we see it happening not because the kids did anything in particular, but we see Godís purpose happening because He called, He chose.

Lesson

Heís a big God.

Sometimes we can get to thinking that some little thing can just slip in and ruin all of Godís plans. I think that if you think that way, itís just possible that your concept of God is a bit too small.

Weíll talk in a minute about the difficulty with these ideas, but for a moment, take a minute to think about how awesome it is to be in Godís hands.

(Isa 40:11-31 KJV) He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. {12} Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? {13} Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him? {14} With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding? {15} Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. {16} And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. {17} All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. {18} To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? {19} The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. {20} He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. {21} Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? {22} It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: {23} That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity. {24} Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirlwind shall take them away as stubble. {25} To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. {26} Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. {27} Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? {28} Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. {29} He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. {30} Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: {31} But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

In the ancient days, people thought of "gods" as local deities. Every country had their own gods, their own idols. Yet Yahweh is the One who sits on His throne above the heavens. He is the Almighty, the Creator of all things. He is over all. And He cares for you and is on your side. He wants to help you. He loves you.

Illustration

Two young men, one a Christian and the other a skeptic, traveling through Switzerland, walked along the brow of a steep cliff, conversing of the providence of God. "I should not be willing to live another day," said the Christian earnestly, "if I could not believe that the Almighty directed my steps. I have no anxiety; for I trust his unerring guidance. No circumstance is too trifling for his control.

The other replied, "I can control myself. See here!" And he paused to roll a stone down the precipice. "Did the Lord direct that pebble? See this lonely tree standing so near the edge! Do you suppose God ordained it should grow just in that spot? Some traveler threw the seed. Did the Almighty declare just where it should fall, and take root?" He threw one arm around a limb of the tree, and leaned against the trunk for his companion to reply. The soil began to crumble; and, before he could move, that part of the bank had fallen upon the rocks below. Only his arm around the tree, and one foot upon the stone, where it partly rested, saved his life. For an instant, both travelers stood motionless.

Then the Christian fell on his knees in prayer. The skeptic came, and reverently knelt beside him. Silently they arose, and resumed their journey. God himself had spoken to the soul of the skeptic. He became a humble Christian, and a minister of the gospel.

:12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

Hereís the story:

(Gen 25:20-26) And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. {21} And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Isaac got married when he was forty years old. He didnít have children until he was sixty (vs.26). He prayed for his wife for twenty years before she got pregnant.

{22} And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. {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. {24} And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. {25} And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. {26} And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

Before these children were even born, before they even had a chance to display any personal characteristics, Rebekah was told that the older son would serve the younger one.

How did it actually turn out? Did the younger actually rule over the older?

The Birthright.

(Gen 25:27-34 KJV) And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. {28} And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. {29} And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: {30} And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. {31} And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. {32} And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? {33} And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. {34} Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

The birthright normally went to the firstborn son. It included the double portion of the inheritance. The oldest son also usually received the fatherís major blessing as well.

The Blessing.

(Gen 27:27-29 KJV) And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed: {28} Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: {29} Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

(Gen 27:38-41 KJV) And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. {39} And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; {40} And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck. {41} And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.

The Edomites (descendants of Esau) would not actually be ruled over by Israel until the time of David (2Sa 8:14)

:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

loved Ė agapao Ė to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly

hated Ė miseo Ė to hate, pursue with hatred, detest

Paul quotes from:

(Mal 1:2-3 KJV) 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, {3} And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

This is a pretty difficult sounding passage. But itís possible that the idea here is simply that God loves Esau less than Jacob. We get this by comparing two different passages.

Luke 14:26 If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

(Mat 10:37-38 KJV) He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. {38} And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

I donít think the Lord wants us to "hate" our parents in the sense of despising them and being mean to them. The idea is that we need to love Jesus more than anyone or anything else.

And so I believe itís possible that what the Lord was saying was that He loved Esau less than Jacob. Perhaps the end result is still the same, but I think it helps us keep Godís heart in perspective.

:14-16

:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

unrighteousness Ė adikia Ė injustice, of a judge; a deed violating law and justice, act of unrighteousness

God forbid Ė "may it never be"

This is one of the great problems we face as humans, trying to understand our sovereign God.

Are we all just little puppets on strings, being told what to do by some ogre in heaven? Is it fair that God judges us according to our choice of Him, when we find out that He really chose us?

Illustration

He writes in characters too grand

For our short sight to understand;

We catch but broken strokes, and try

To fathom all the mystery

Of withered hopes, of death, of life,

The endless war, the useless strife --

But there, with larger, clearer sight,

We shall see this -- His way was right.

We may not always understand what God is doing, but His ways are best:

Illustration

Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place relates an incident which taught her this principle. She and her sister, Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst German prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and flea-infested. Their Scripture reading that morning in 1 Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. She finally succumbed. During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings without guard interference. It was several months later when they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.

:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

I will have mercy Ė eleeo Ė to have mercy on; to help one afflicted or seeking aid (first "mercy" is future indicative, second "mercy" is present subjunctive (possibility and potentiality), "I will in the future have mercy on whom I should have mercy")

I will have compassion Ė oikteiro Ė to pity, have compassion on (same set of tenses and mood as "mercy")

This quote came after the golden calf episode. Moses went off to spend time with God, and asked God if he could see Godís glory.

(Exo 33:13-19 KJV) Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. {14} And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. {15} And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. {16} For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. {17} And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. {18} And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. {19} And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.

Godís reply was basically saying, "Moses, Iíll be gracious to who I want to be gracious to, you arenít in a position to tell me who to be merciful to".

Why does God choose some and apparently not choose others?

You may not like this answer, but the truth is that He does it because He wants to. Period. Heís the boss. As the Creator of the Universe, it is wholly within His rights to make choices like this.

In a sense, I think our struggles with this come back to our struggles with authority. Do we have a problem with people telling us what to do? Do we have a problem with our boss assigning us a particular job? Do you have a problem submitting to others?

Itís kind of like walking a dog. The dog will learn to have a much easier time when it learns to go in the direction that itís master is trying to go. But when the dog resists the master, thatís when it gets tough. Does the dog know the best way to go? Rarely.

In reality, God doesnít have to show mercy to any of us. In reality, God ought to be sending us all to hell because of our rebellion against Him. But instead, He chooses to show mercy and compassion.

:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.

willeth Ė thelo Ė to will, have in mind, intend

runneth Ė trecho Ė to run; metaph. to spend one's strength in performing or attaining something

showeth mercy Ė eleeo Ė to have mercy on; to help one afflicted or seeking aid

There is a suggestion that Godís choosing us is based simply upon His foreknowledge. The idea is that God looks into the future, sees that we have chosen to follow Jesus, and then goes back to the beginning of time and adds us to the list of those chosen. The struggle I have with that is that it makes our calling based on us, and not on God. The idea behind Godís calling us is that the whole idea was His.

Our calling in God isnít based on us willing or exerting effort. We donít demand of God to show us mercy. Itís based on God deciding to have mercy.

Lesson

God makes His own choices.

He does what He wants.

So how do I know if Iím a person to whom God has shown mercy?

Respond to His mercy and youíll find out.

This is part of the mystery of it all. God is sovereign and makes His choices. Yet somehow He has set it all up so that we from our perspective have a choice, as Paul will say in the next chapter:

(Rom 10:13 KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.