His Mercy Endures Forever - Romans 9-11
Today we transition to Romans 9. If you've ever struggled with this chapter or simply need a message about mercy, today's message is for you.
[Rom 9:1-33 NASB] 1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, [separated] from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the [temple] service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.
A. Romans 3:1-2.
B. Paul's conscience testifies with him "in the Holy Spirit" that he'd rather be "accursed, separated from Christ." Is Paul who's writing under the inspiration of the Spirit testifying with the Spirit communicating a love for Israel that is greater than God? No! Therefore what we see in Paul's words actually reveals the heart of God. You'll see why this matters a little later.
6 But [it is] not as though the word of God has failed.
C. What word? The Promise of God toward the chosen Israel.
6 But [it is] not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are [descended] from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED." 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.
D. We're going to see this wording used over and over to communicate flesh and promise as well as faith and works of the Law.
9 For this is the word of promise: "AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON." 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived [twins] by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though [the twins] were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to [His] choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
E. There it is again. Works vs Calling, promise vs flesh etc.
12 it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER."
F. An important point of context here: In Genesis Rebekah here's this. What comes next occurs hundreds of years after both Jacob and Esau have died. Does this say the younger will be saved and the older will be damned? No.
13 Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED."
G. What a strange parallel "the older will serve the younger" is another way of saying "Jacob I loved and Esau I hated?" Nope. This idea enters the picture in Obadiah and Malachi which we will read real quick. God's hatred of Esau is concerning his house the Edomites and the reason is clear, they "committed violence against Jacob." The name Jacob here refers to the people of Jacob and not himself either. God's hatred of Esau, contextually, is in response to their hatred of His chosen ones. God didn't hate an unborn baby!
[Oba 1:6-10 NASB] 6 "O how Esau will be ransacked, [And] his hidden treasures searched out! 7 "All the men allied with you Will send you forth to the border, And the men at peace with you Will deceive you and overpower you. [They who eat] your bread Will set an ambush for you. (There is no understanding in him.) 8 "Will I not on that day," declares the LORD, "Destroy wise men from Edom And understanding from the mountain of Esau? 9 "Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman, So that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter. 10 "Because of violence to your brother Jacob, You will be covered [with] shame, And you will be cut off forever.
[Mal 1:1-4 NASB] 1 The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi. 2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How have You loved us?" "[Was] not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and [appointed] his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness." 4 Though Edom says, "We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins"; thus says the LORD of hosts, "They may build, but I will tear down; and [men] will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever."
Back to Romans 9
14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." 16 So then IT [does] not [depend] on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH."
G. What does IT refer to? Does it have anything to do with salvation? No. IT refers to the fulfillment of the promise of God to the chosen people Israel.
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
H. So all of this imagery parallels God choosing Jacob over Esau (later "hating" him) and hardening people. Also, notice the positive that Jacob being loved, Pharoah being chosen "to demonstrate my power in you" and having mercy are all parallel. God's plan of blessing to the whole world will come at the hand of unfaithful Israel. Like Pharoah, He is using them in spite of their rebellion.
19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"
I. In other words, why is God finding fault with us "hardened Jews" if we can't resist His will? Because their hardening was a result of their rejection of both God's prophets and His Son! Paul retorts:
20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
J. Who is Paul writing to? Jewish and Gentile Christians. But with whom is Paul having this discussion (hypothetical as it is)? His Jewish "brethren, kinsmen according to the flesh." Those hardened. Those who had Jesus crucified. We will see this over and over.
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And [He did so] to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
K. Paul shows what he means by vessels of mercy in the very next line when he says, "even us." Therefore God is enduring vessels of wrath (a hardened Jewish people see Ex. 33) to make known His mercy on the Gentiles. We see this in the next few verses and again in chapter 11:25-26.
24 [even] us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. 25 As He says also in Hosea, "I WILL CALL THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE, 'MY PEOPLE,' AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED, 'BELOVED.'" 26 "AND IT SHALL BE THAT IN THE PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, 'YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,' THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF THE LIVING GOD."
L. The Gentiles will be grafted in. This has been God's plan from the beginning. (Gen. 3:15, 22:17-18)
27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, "THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL BE LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEA, IT IS THE REMNANT THAT WILL BE SAVED; 28 FOR THE LORD WILL EXECUTE HIS WORD ON THE EARTH, THOROUGHLY AND QUICKLY." 29 And just as Isaiah foretold, "UNLESS THE LORD OF SABAOTH HAD LEFT TO US A POSTERITY, WE WOULD HAVE BECOME LIKE SODOM, AND WOULD HAVE RESEMBLED GOMORRAH." 30 What shall we say then? (pause)
That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at [that] law. 32 Why? Because [they did] not [pursue it] by faith, but as though [it were] by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 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."
M. Look again to the God ordained requirement, "He who believes in Him (Jesus) will not be disappointed." Now to chapter 10:
[Rom 10:1-21 NASB] 1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for [their] salvation.
N. Who is "them?" Israel. Those whom God has hardened. And what does Paul desire and pray for? Salvation. He's praying that they will believe.
1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for [their] salvation. 2 For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.
O. "They did not subject themselves..."
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: "DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, 'WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?' (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or 'WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?' (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead)." 8 But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
P. That word is the Gospel which Paul says in 1:16 is "the power of God unto salvation to all those who will believe."
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus [as] Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."
There's our assurance!
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same [Lord] is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
Q. Who hasn't believed in Paul's story here? Not the Christian's in Rome. The Jewish people. The hardened Jewish people. Please don't miss this.
14 How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" 16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says,
R. Again who did not heed the good news? The Jewish people.
"LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?" 17 So faith [comes] from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
S. Here's the only way our faith in Jesus MIGHT be understood as a gift. If faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, and God gave us the Gospel message, then in some way faith is given. But to whom? ALL WHO HEAR THE GOSPEL! Now look at what Paul does here in this section:
18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; "THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD." 19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says, "I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION, BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU." 20 And Isaiah is very bold and says, "I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO DID NOT SEEK ME, I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME." (GENTILES) 21 But as for Israel He says, "ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE."
T. They've just not heard, that's it. No, they heard. Well then they didn't know, that's it. No, Verse 21 "But as for Israel He says, 'ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.'"
U. To a what? To a Sovereignly reprobate, dammed to Hell people. After all Esau I hated. NO! To a disobedient and obstinate people. Here's where we have a whole lot of fun and discover one of Paul's key points in Romans:
[Rom 11:1-36 NASB] 1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!
V. The mystery of Romans 9-11 is explained here. To the church in Rome with the hardened objector in view, Paul says:
25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery
--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, "THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB." 27 "THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS."
Paul's point in Romans 9-11 is not to communicate an obscure doctrine about divine election unto salvation or reprobation. His point is to show the unyeilding, worship enducing, awe inspiring MERCY of the living God. Who although He has endured objects of His wrath with patience (hardended Unbelieving Jews) so that you and I can hear the Gospel (the fullness of the Gentiles are to be brought in) He still hold out a welcoming hand to the people of Israel (those who will pursue by faith).
One last thing:
This idea in Romans 9 about arguing with the Potter and the potter having the right to make whatever He wants out of whomever He wants. Paul has spoken about this elsewhere and it coincides and confirms all that we've heard today about His creation responding to His call. Listen:
[2Ti 2:20-21 NASB] 20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these [things,] he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.