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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary
Romans 9

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-27

Hath God Cast Away His People?

Romans 9:1-27

INTRODUCTORY WORDS

1. We have the depths of the heart of Paul toward the Jews. How the heart of the Apostle must have throbbed as he wrote, "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites."

If there ever was a time when we needed to have a similar concern, it is now. The people of Israel are being trodden under foot by the Gentiles. In many parts of the world their cry is ascending up to Heaven. They are being oppressed and despised, and driven from many countries. Do we pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Remember "They shall prosper that love thee."

2. We have elsewhere in Scripture the heart of Paul for the saved. It was to the saints at Thessalonica that Paul wrote in such a way as to unconsciously give us a view of his deepest yearnings for saints. He said, "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers." Again he wrote to them, "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." Then he wrote of his labor and travail for them.

The Philippians likewise came in for a full share of Paul's deep heart love. To them he wrote, "My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown." He rejoiced when their care of him flourished.

We need the same care for another as is exemplified herein. We can never prove a blessing to others unless we have a heart filled with love and compassion for them and their welfare.

3. We have, yet again, the longings of Paul's heart for the unsaved who knew not God. He himself bore witness that he became all things to all men if perhaps he might gain some. To the weak he became as weak. He knew how to weep with those who wept. He had a real passion for those who knew not God. He was stirred as he came into Athens and beheld their idolatry. He never wearied seeking to do good for the Master.

Consider his strenuous missionary journeys as he went forth preaching the Word. He knew how to suffer gladly for Christ and for the lost. He could recount many perils that came to him by the way. Yet he never stopped his ministry. By day and by night he pressed on. In hungering and fasting, nothing made him stop.

A man must have loved men, who for them bore stripes above measure, and was in prisons frequent, in deaths oft. Think of him beaten and left for dead; think of him in three shipwrecks. Behold his weariness and painfulness, his watchings, his nakedness still he pressed on.

As we close this threefold consideration, let us tarry long enough to examine our own hearts. We may faithfully proclaim the glorious Person of Christ, and we may eloquently preach of the death of Christ, and of His glorious Return; however, not until we are moved with the compassion of Christ, as Paul was moved, can we effectually serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not ask for more victory and power until we have asked for more compassion for the lost.

I. ISRAEL'S FORMER GLORIES (Romans 9:4-5 )

No matter how far from God national Israel may be today, it has not always been thus. Our verse is plain and positive: "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; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."

How the words pile up, and with what depths of privileges do they stand before us. Let us note some of these expressions.

1. To whom pertaineth the adoption. Israel is the people whom God adopted unto Himself, out of all peoples that dwell upon the earth, that they might be unto Him for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory. They were chosen not only that they might be blessed, but that they might be a blessing.

2. To whom pertaineth the glory. The Lord placed upon them His glory. "The glory of the Lord Is risen upon thee." It was no small glory that Israel should be the called of God, the God of Glory. They were glorious because of the glory that He had placed upon them.

3. To whom pertaineth the Covenants. The Covenants of God were given to Israel in Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and David. These Covenants had to do with their Kingdom, their future blessing, the coming of the Seed, even Christ; and their security as the chosen people.

4. To whom was the giving of the Law. It was to Israel, by Moses, that God gave the Law written upon two tables of stone. This Law contained the duties of men toward God and toward one another. The Law was holy and just and good. It was given in a concise, and yet inclusive, way. Unto this day it contains God's demands of the recognition and worship of God, and of the ethical standards which should prevail among men.

5. Of whom, according to the flesh, Christ came. We have room for but the one great statement above. Christ came of the seed of Abraham. He was, to be sure, sent of God; yet He was born of a virgin. That virgin was David's seed, through Nathan, and God has verified His promise by recounting the genealogy in Luke. Let us ever honor the Jews, because Christ came by way of them, and He is over all, God blessed forever, and honored and loved, among the saved.

II. GOD'S DISTINCTION AMONG PEOPLES (Romans 9:6-9 )

There is a tendency to discount God by reason of national Israel. Some will say that the sins of present-day Israel show that God made a grievous error in choosing that race as the representative of His grace and glory. We had just as well say that God made a mistake in making the Church the channel of His blessings. The verses before us make some things clear in this connection.

1. They are not all Israel, which are of Israel. This was true in the days of old. For instance, in the days of Gideon there were 300 called out of 32,000 that through them God might make His power known. Sometimes the truly faithful were narrowed down to less than 300 in Israel. Today God still loves His people, the Jews; yet in their midst, and of the same stock with them, there is a group that knows no mercy and no God, From Abraham's sons, only Isaac was chosen. It was his son by Sarah, and not by the handmaiden, Hagar, that was the heir.

Not only this, but Isaac also had two sons; but the coming Seed was narrowed down to the lineage of Jacob, and not of Esau. Thus not all who are of either Abraham or of Isaac were included in the Covenant promises.

2. They are not all of the Church, the Body of Christ, who are reckoned in the Church. There is a verse which says, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." Yes, there are, alas many whose names are on the church books, who are not named in the Book of Life.

III. GOD'S PURPOSE OF ELECTION (Romans 9:11-13 )

1. God's election goes back of human times. Romans 9:11 speaking of God's election of Jacob, and of His rejection of Esau, says, "(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;)."

How long before these children were born did God choose Jacob? It does not say, nor does it matter. The truth to be enforced is that God is able to make His decisions, not based on the works of men, but on His own elective powers. Israel was loved, and chosen also, before she was known for her works. God, according to Deuteronomy 7:6-7 , "hath chosen thee (Israel) to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth." Then we read, "The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers." Once again it is of grace, and not of works.

2. God's election says, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Is it necessary for us to try to understand these words? If so, stop and ask yourselves upon what basis the Twelve were chosen to the Apostleship. If so, stop and ask why some believe and some believe not; why you, for instance, are saved, and others, seemingly more worthy, are lost.

True it is that we see through a glass darkly. If all this is explained by the foreknowledge of God, that before either Jacob or Esau was born, God in His is omniscience knew what each child should do, etc., etc.; yet He spoke before they did it, and in doing so He demonstrated that His choice was of grace, and not of works.

"Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." This cannot be, for the workman has a right to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor.

Was not Saul chosen of God to be the Apostle unto the Gentiles before he had anything of good works? God said plainly unto Ananias, "Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the Children of Israel." Paul also wrote, "When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen."

IV. A GREAT SALVATION TRUTH (Romans 9:16 )

Here are the words of Romans 9:16 : "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy."

1. Salvation is not by either the will or the work of men. The sinner is not saved because he first loved God, but because God first loved him. He is not saved because he willed to be saved, inasmuch as the sinner's will was on the side of Satan. He is saved because God loved, Christ died, and the Spirit called.

If you argue that "Whosoever will may come," we agree: however, it is God, who worketh in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure.

If you argue that whosoever believeth hath everlasting life, we agree; yet we add, How can they believe on Him of whom they have not heard? And who sent out the preacher?

2. Service is also neither of the will of the Christian, nor of his running. To the Twelve Jesus said, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit." We believe in the call of God to preach His Gospel not only in the call to preach, but in the designation of the very place where we should preach. He who walketh in the midst of the churches, places the messengers of the churches as He willeth.

"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John." Paul delighted to say, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God, * * concerning His Son."

3. Wherever there is "running" there is with it a "reward." "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize ? So run, that ye may obtain." But for what do you run? Certainly not for salvation, or Heaven, or anything in the realm of grace. You run for the prize.

V. GOD'S PURPOSE IN HIS DEALINGS (Romans 9:17-21 )

1. God's dealings are to make His power and glory known. Our key verse says, concerning Pharaoh, "Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth."

What a great Old Testament verse is this on missions. God was seeking by His dealings with Pharaoh to make His Name known, not in Egypt alone, but also everywhere over the earth. This is seen in His dealings with Nebuchadnezzar and Darius. Only this time through the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, and through Daniel in the den of lions. This same world-wide magnifying of God's Name was brought about by David's slaying the giant.

God made His Name known because Nebuchadnezzar sent out the word over the Babylonian empire, "I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Me-shach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces," etc.

Darius sent out the word "That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel."

David said to Goliath, "I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air." etc., "that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." Thus did God declare His Name among the nations of men.

2. There is, therefore, in God's elective dealings with men, the supreme task of causing men to worship the True God, and to declare His glorious Name. For this cause, He will have mercy on him on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth. Yes, God did harden Pharaoh's heart after that Pharaoh had hardened his own heart four times; and He hardened it that He might thus bring out Israel with a mighty hand, and cause the nations to magnify His Name.

3. Men should never condemn the great God who worketh all things after the counsel of His will. Who are we that we should reply to God and find fault with Him? Who are we that we should resist His will? "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"

Suppose that God, by His wrath, was making His power known. Suppose that God by His long-suffering grace was making His riches of glory known upon vessels of mercy which He had afore prepared unto His glory. In either case, whether on vessels fitted for wrath, or upon vessels fitted for mercy, God is glorified.

VI. NOT THE JEWS ONLY BUT ALSO THE GENTILES (Romans 9:24 )

1. There came a day when the veil of the Temple was rent in twain. In the Old Testament times the Gentiles could come to God after the days of Abraham, for Israel was God's special and chosen people that through them all the earth might know God. After the temporary rejection of Israel, because of her infidelity as God's witness, the veil of the Temple was rent from the top to the "bottom to demonstrate that the way into the Holiest of all was now open to Jew and Gentile, alike. The Church then became God's witness both to Jew and Gentile. As Romans eleven puts it, they (Israel) were broken off, that we (the church) might be grafted in.

2. The Gentiles used to be foreigners and aliens to the commonwealth of Israel. They were "strangers from the Covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world." Now, however, in Christ Jesus they who "sometimes were far off are made nigh by the Blood of Christ."

The moment Christ died, God made open the door to all. When Christ was ready to ascend to the Father, He gave the command of the Gospel to all nations, and to every creature. The Church is a called-out people unto God, by the Blood, from every kindred, tongue, and tribe, born under the commission and the responsibility of world evangelization.

3. The Jews, while they are temporarily rejected as a special people, still have the privilege of full redemption equally with the Gentiles. At the beginning of this age, it was "the Jew first, and also the Gentiles." Now it is "Where there is neither Jew or Gentile." The church is making a great mistake in forgetting that her calling is as much to the Jew as to the Gentile. If we leave the Jew entirely out of our ministry, we will prove as truant to our calling as the Children of Israel did to theirs, when they refused to make Christ known to the Gentiles.

VII. THE REMNANT OF ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED (Romans 9:27 )

1. Israel, nationally, is now cast off. The Lord Jesus announced, before He went to Glory, that Israel should be trodden under the feet of the Gentiles. Hear His words: "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall * * compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side; * * because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."

Hear the Lord again.: "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Hear our Lord still further: "Your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord."

2. A remnant shall be saved; that is, a remnant of Israel. Israel lived after the Law, but the remnant of Israel shall be saved by grace. Let us read Romans 11:5 : "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." Let none of us think for a moment that Israel shall never come back into her own. The promises of God are sure and steadfast. God has spoken and no one can disannul it. "Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved." Again it is written: "After this I will return, and will build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up."

Remember God has spoken, "And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God." And "I will take the Children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one King shall be King to them all."

3. A short work will the Lord make upon the earth. The salvation of the remnant of Israel will be wrought by God with a short work. Yet God will finish the work in righteousness. That work will be accomplished during the days Scripturally known as Jacob's trouble. That day is also called "the Indignation," and "the great Tribulation."

If those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved. However, the Lord will seal 144,000 of the Children of Israel, 12,000 from each tribe. There will also be a remnant which will flee into the wilderness, where God will have a place prepared for their safety.

In that short period, God will change the hearts of His chosen people, and will pour upon Israel, "The spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon [Him] whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son."

AN ILLUSTRATION

"'Why are the Jews like Jonah?' inquired an aged veteran of a preacher. When asked to explain, he said; "Because Jonah could neither be assimilated nor exterminated by the whale.' All the nations have tried to assimilate or exterminate the Jew, but he remains distinct and everywhere abundant (Romans 11:26 )."

"A Hyde Park orator, denouncing the feeble efforts of the Jews to resist the Roman oppressions, suggested that if they appealed more to the sword and less to the Sacred Writings they might have fared much better. One in the crowd asked, 'But where are the Romans today?' 'Nowhere,' was the quick response. 'And where are the Jews today?' 'Everywhere,' was the sarcastic but satisfactory reply, to the evident appreciation of the hearers. 'Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel' (Jeremiah 3:23 )."

 


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Bibliography Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Romans 9:4". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lwc/romans-9.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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