Monday, December 16, 2013

Romans. .Week 3. .Assignment

One of the areas that I wanted to look at deeper. .
stemmed from Paul’s writing regarding the Israelites in chapter 9 and 11. .
We studied the Israelite nation a number of years ago now. .
particularly surrounding the Exodus from slavery into the Promised land. .
It was primarily a study on attitudes. .
by observing how the Israelites were sent by God to wander in the wilderness because of their own attitude problems. .
Interestingly. .I found this sermon written nearly 2 decades ago. .
that addressed exactly my questions from Romans 9-11. .
The author pulls in relevant information from several places in the Old Testament. .
tying it all together. .
It cleared up several things for me!! There were a few other things that really stuck out to me personally in those 2 chapters that I wanted to highlight for you too. .
God is SO detailed. .
I know we have mentioned in the past. .
that God knows how many hairs are on our heads. .
and that He has all of our tears in a bottle. .
but check in 11:4. .Paul reminds us that God told the prophet Elijah. .
that he wasn’t the only one left. .
there were 7000 others that had not bowed to the foot of another god (check it for yourself in 1 Kings 19. .verse 18 specifically. .but reading the whole chapter will really put it into perspective. .it’s a great passage!!)
He didn’t say many. .
or there are some still. .
He gave a DETAILED number of people that God had reserved for His purposes!!
Additionally. .
did anyone catch what Paul said in verse 11:25??
 He tells the Romans that some of the Israelites have hardened hearts. .
but ONLY until the full number of Gentiles. .c
ome to Christ!! Did you have ANY idea. .
that God is counting the number of people that are saved by their faith in Christ??
When that counter clicks THE number. .
the end of times will be imminent. .and some things will change immediately!!
The other thing that really just landed in my head. .
was from 11:7. .that most of the Israelites had NOT found favor with God. .
the same God that they WERE LOOKING for. .
they were actively pursuing God. .
they were working and seeking. .how??
 EARNESTLY. .these people were all about God. .
but they had NOT found favor. .why?
Because they were doing it their way. .
God had not chosen them to hear and see the truth. .
That is also the message from 10:2. .that they have ENTHUSIASM. .but misplaced. .
they do it their own way. . they CLING to their own way. .
and the only way to be right with God. .is to do it HIS way. .
I think that people claiming Christ as their Savior. .
should reassess themselves on a regular basis. .
to search their hearts. .
and be assured that they are still grounded in the truth of the word. .
that we don’t get boastful about what we do or ashamed of what we DON’T do. .
that we review whether we are being controlled by the Spirit of God. .
or our own spirit as we try to seek God in our OWN way. .
rather than the simple way He has asked us to seek eternal life!
And finally. .WHO can know the Lord’s thoughts??
Who knows enough to give Him advice 11:34??
There will be some things that we just can NOT understand. .
we can make them make sense to us. .
but concepts like why God chooses some. .
and allows others to continue wandering in the wilderness because He didn’t allow them to hear and see. .sometimes. .we just WON’T understand. .
until we stand face to face with Jesus on our last day. .
We should be able to understand the majority of things from the Bible. .
when we study by the Spirit of God that dwells within us. .
but I believe. .that there are a few things. .
that we will just have to agree to (if they are written in the bible) and resolve to not understand.
This has been such an interesting book so far I think. .
there is just SO much content. .
it could take us months to really get everything that Paul had in store for us!
The assignment this week. .
is to read through Romans with the intent of learning what God  wants from us. .
There is A LOT of orders coming down through the mouth of Paul. .
Again, as we did last week. .
narrow those orders down to which ones specifically affect you in your current season of life! Remember. .God wants us to put on the new creation and throw off the old. .
so, ladies. .
we SHOULD be making some changes in our lives based on what we are reading each week!!
And God should be pointing some things out to us each time we pick up His word. .
Pray before you read this week. .that He will search your heart. .
and renew your mind through His word!!
Enjoy your week!! The excerpt by Fred Zaspel is below. .
there is also a link to the entire source if you would like to check it out. .
Be sure that you have your bible open to Romans 9. .
you will want to read the scripture as he explains it. .
at least. .I wanted to read along!!
Written by Fred Zaspel
1. Jew/Gentile Relations in the Church

Beginning with his famous "to the Jew first" (1:16) and on through the remainder of the book, Paul seems intent (among other things, of course) on fostering a practical unity among the believers in the church at Rome -- which, I take it, consisted of both Jews and Gentiles. The Gospel may have gone to the Jew first, and there were reasons for this; but as Paul goes on to explain in detail (1:18-3:20), both divisions of humanity equally need it. Moreover (3:21-5:21), both receive its blessings in the same way -- by faith. And its privileges are equally enjoyed by both, apart from the law (6-8). Still more, this unity grounded in Christ is one that has very practical ramifications in the life of the church and demands an evident manifestation of humility toward each (14:1-15:13). Within this context chapters 9-11 fits very well. Its discussion of the purpose of God in redemptive history in regard to both Jews and Gentiles should foster humility and eliminate boasting on the part of both (11:16ff -- who has been set aside? Yet whose tree is it? etc.).

2. Theological and Soteriological Emphases

But there is more. Paul has been expounding the nature of Justification and its attending blessings (ch. 3-8). What is becoming painfully clear (to him particularly; 9:2-3; 10:1) is that Israel has begun to take back seat in the divine programme. Initially, Christianity consisted of almost exclusively Jewish believers. Then gradually there had become fewer and fewer, until now it was a dominantly Gentile affair. It would seem that if Paul's gospel were true -- that blessing comes by faith -- then Israel has lost out, and her promises have been annulled.

So, is God's promise to His people failing? Given Israel's present state of unbelief, we are left to wonder "what advantage" remains for the Jew (3:1). The answer to the problem is found in the divine initiative. God himself can and will work in behalf of His chosen people again and bring them into faith and so into their promised blessings.

Moreover, Paul has just expressed his firm confidence in God's decree of eternal salvation (ch.8). But if Israel fails, is God's decree at all certain? The promises to us are surely no greater than the promises to them! So again, there is this need of this which is often referred to as a theodicy: it is Paul's justification of God's dealings with humanity, a vindication of the righteousness and faithfulness of God.

Now I have jumped ahead of myself here just a bit, but you can see from this that chapters 9-11 form no parenthetical idea at all. They are part and parcel of Paul's argument. If nothing else, they serve to head off any potential objection as to the validity of his gospel.

Now then we come to a brief survey/exposition.


I. Explanations in Light of Israel's Failure

A. An Affirmation of Jewish Advantage (9:1-5)

We'll not take the time to analyze this entire section, but notice in passing that the privileges which were given to the nation of Israel are still her's -- "the adoption and the glory and the covenants," and so on (v.4). And they are said to have advantage on account of the patriarchs (v.5). The passage reads very much like 3:1-4, which describes the "advantage" that belongs to the Jew. Their advantage is precisely this, Paul says: their promises have never been revoked.

B. An Explanation of what part of Israel Receives the Blessings (9:6-29)

But if that is so, how do we account for Israel's present failure to receive the blessing? How and why is she in unbelief? Well, whatever answer we come to here, we may be sure that it is "not as though the word of God has taken no effect" (v.6a). His promise has not fallen to the ground.

So some clarification is needed, and this Paul gives in verse 6b: "For (gar) they are not all Israel who are of Israel." That is to say, God's blessings do not come automatically to anyone just because of physical descent. They do not come irrespective of faith.

And so we come to the exposition of the doctrine of election (vv.7-29). God demonstrated and exercised His sovereign elective rights with Isaac as over against Ishmael (vv.7-9) and with Jacob as over against Esau (vv.10-13). This is a divine prerogative which has been exercised from the outset, and it remains true. Nor is there any ground for objection; he is God (vv.14-16). And whether we speak in terms of God as over Pharaoh (vv.17-18) or of a potter as over his clay (vv.19-21), we must acknowledge that God is free to do as he wills in His creation and dispense blessing as he sees fit (vv.22-24).

But it is just this, divine sovereign election that offers Israel its only hope. As Hosea (vv.25-26) and Isaiah (vv.27-29) and so many of the prophets testify, it is by God's sovereign power that Israel will be brought back to the place of blessing. God will woo her, the adulterous wife, and in the end she will come back. God's sovereignty joined with steadfast love gives reason for Israel's hope.

C. Explanation of Israel's Failure to Obtain the Blessings (9:30-10:21)

But a question arises here: Why? Here we have Israel who had the law and who in a very real sense "pursued righteousness," yet they have not obtained it. And here are the Gentiles, who never did pursue any such righteousness, yet they now are obtaining it. How do we explain that?
Beginning with 9:30 and on through chapter 10 Paul expands on the idea of Israel's culpability. She is responsible for her own actions. Her problem is not that God has rejected her but that she has arrogantly sought her own righteousness (9:30ff). The very idea, Paul explains, that they could somehow enjoy the blessings of God by way of self-merit and apart from faith, is unthinkable. Nor is it that she could not have known better; the gospel was preached to her, and she rejected it (10:16ff). God waits all day long, yes, with open arms; but Israel remains stubborn (10:21).
Now follow Paul's argument here. He has established at least three points in regard to Israel: 1) There is yet an advantage to being "of Israel" -- the promises were to her specifically. 2) There never was any promise that every last member of Abraham's seed would enjoy the blessings. And 3) It is simply because of the unbelief of the large part of Israel today that they do not enjoy blessing. Her failure is due to her unbelief and rejection of Christ.

Next we come to deal with God's purposes for Israel more directly. This is the second step in Paul's argument.

II. An Analysis of Israel's Failure (11:1-24)

A. Israel's Failure is not total. (1-10)

After the strong indictment of Israel for her rebellion in spite of God's patience (10:21), the question naturally arises, "I say then (oun), has God cast away His people?" That is, this condition that characterized Israel in Isaiah's day persists in Paul's day; will this continue indefinitely? We might expect to read now that in fact God will indeed allow His people to persist in their rebellion forever; they deserve no better. But the apostle answers the question with a resounding No, "God forbid!" And for several compelling reasons.

1. The Character of God Demands it (v.1a)

The wording of the question in the Greek (me) suggests a negative answer, but it is not just the grammar. They are, after all, "His people." That kind of talk has necessary implications; and whatever else it may imply, Paul argues, it implies that no, He most certainly has not "cast them away." The very question harkens back to a host of promises designed to give just this assurance. For example, "The Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people" (1Sa.12:22). "For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance" (Psa.94:14).

Paul's exasperation at the thought is a well-grounded one. There is something singularly abhorrent about the thought of God casting off "His people." It would make Him a liar. God may well make certain kinds of changes along the way in the history of redemption (e.g., no longer blood sacrifices, temple worship, etc.), but the promises remain. They must remain, if God is true.

But there is more.

2. The Conversion of Paul Demonstrates it (v.1b)

Paul goes on to point out that he, the apostle to the Gentiles, was himself an Israelite. Given the Israelite that he was (the blaspheming persecutor of the church), his participation in grace establishes well the fact that God is not through with the nation. For him, this is a sample illustration of God's continuing mercy.

3. The Promise of a Remnant Proves it. (vv.2-10)

In fact, Paul goes on to explain, he is but one of a promised "remnant according to the election of grace." And yet while the majority of Israel has been judicially hardened, Paul joins David in a kind of "merciful prayer of imprecation," hoping that God's stern dealings with them will bring them to their senses.

In any case, Paul points out, Israel's failure is not total.

B. Israel's Failure is not final (vv.11-24)

Notice the question of verse 11a: "Have they stumbled that they should fall?" Again the construction suggests a negative answer, but there is more to the issue than grammar.

Answer #1 -- That is unthinkable. (v.11b)

"God forbid!" This idea too, Paul implies, would be blasphemous. It would prove God unfaithful to His covenanted word.

Answer #2 -- There is good reason for their temporary loss. (v.11c)

Their failure is designed in the plan of God to bring about Gentile ingathering. "Through their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles." And of course this is precisely the history of those early days of the apostolic mission. The first converts and churches were Jewish. But then there was the decision, "it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles" (Acts 18:6). This accords well with Jesus' words also: "Therefore the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Mat.21:43).

For a time it seemed that the flood of Divine blessings seemed all dammed up in Israel, but by their unbelief it has spilled over to the Gentiles. This, Paul argues, is precisely the divine design in redemptive history.

Answer #3 -- Gentile Ingathering will result in Jewish Regathering. (v.11c)

By a quotation of Deu.32:21, Moses' prophecy of Israel's fall and restoration, Paul establishes the final step in the divine programme of the ages. The fall of Israel was designed to bring about Gentile conversion. In turn, the conversion of the Gentiles is designed to "provoke Israel to jealousy," and so affect her restoration to faith.

Answer #4 -- Jewish regathering will result in World-wide Blessing. (vv.12, 15)

These verses form a kind of a kind of logical analysis of the entire scenario: if the fall of Israel meant blessing to the world, what should we expect from her restoration? The question is excitingly suggestive.

C. An Illustration (vv.16-24)

Here Paul employs the two analogies in order to illustrate his point in two directions. The first fruit and the root I take in connection with Abraham, the one through whom the blessing was promised. Perhaps it would be a bit more precise to say it is the Abrahamic covenant that is in view. In either case, it should be expected that if the first fruit and the root are holy, so will be the entire loaf and tree. Given the nation's "natural" connection to Abraham, it is to be expected that the she will not come to ultimate ruin. She will come again to the place of blessing. To use Paul's words, she will be "grafted in again" (v.23).
Along with this comes a warning directed primarily to the Gentiles, and it is one that enjoins both humility and perseverance. If these natural branches were cut off for unbelief, there is no room for boasting. Moreover, it is Israel's tree! The Gentile place of blessing is one of grace through faith; and just as no individual Israelite can lay claim to the blessings by reason of descent alone, so no Gentile can boast as though he has a personal right to be here.

But Paul concludes his illustration by emphasizing his point. "For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?" That is to say, Israel's return to the place of blessing is not only possible, it is highly probable.

III. Conclusion: Israel's Blessing is Certain. (11:25-27)

All this is a "mystery" about which we should not be ignorant. Israel is not enjoying her blessing; it is the time of the Gentiles. That the Gentiles should enjoy the blessings apart from Israel is something the prophets never told us. But this "mystery" (i.e., previously unrevealed truth; secret) Paul now reveals. And he says this condition will not last forever, only "until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in."

And here his argument reaches its climax. Up to now he has spoken primarily in terms of possibility and then probability. But now he says Israel's blessing is certain. Israel's blindness is merely "in part" and temporary. But that she will have her blessing is a matter of recorded prophecy (vv. 26-27).

This all is strikingly reminiscent of that famous story of the young boy in a London hospital who wanted to see the King. When the king came to visit, the boy didn't recognize him, because he wore no crown or kingly robes. Paul's picture of Israel here is something like that. Their long awaited King came, but he was not what they might have expected. He came in humility, in derision, and He was oppressed. And so they missed Him, and missing Him they missed all the promised blessings that He affords. But in that day when their "Deliverer comes out of Zion, He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (v.26), and this in keeping with covenanted promises (vv.27, 29). In the end, it sounds much like Zechariah, "They shall look on me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only child" (12:10). Or, in words of Isaiah, they will cry,
"He grew up before us as tender plant and as root out of dry ground. He had no form nor comeliness, and when we saw Him there was no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs, and we hid as it were our faces from Him. He was despised and we esteemed Him not! Surely, He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed" (53:2-5).

In light of Paul's teaching here, it is not difficult at all to see these prophecies fulfilled finally in relation to their original and stated audience. They'll not miss Him then; this is precisely Paul's argument. Their fall is not final. And that is a matter of prophetic record.

IV. Summary (11:28-32)

Yes, Israel seems now to be our enemy so far as the gospel is concerned; and so she is (v.28a). But "as touching the election, she is beloved because of the patriarchs" (v.28b).

Conclusion (11:33-36)

Just this one thing remains to be said: What does all this make you think about God? Here he chose a specific man (Abraham) out of whom would come the nation of His choosing and blessing. Yet by leaving that nation for a time to its unbelief, He has brought blessing to us who deserve it even less. Yet by that he has determined to provoke "His people" back to faith and so bring about world-wide blessing. If this all strikes you as a great unfolding drama, then you have Paul's point. This is God's purpose in history.

And in all that is revealed a God whose sovereignty and wisdom and power and grace are all indescribably marvelous. God has indulged us, sinners, and has interrupted our mad rush to hell and determined to bring us to glory. That is all to His exhaustless praise (vv.33-36). What a wonderful God He is.

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