Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Romans 9-11 (Part 6)

24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

So God has chosen to save those who follow His call through faith without discriminating between nationalities. Now even Gentiles are blessed through God’s call of the Gospel.

The “even us” demonstrates that Paul’s illustration of the potter was about the Jews but applies to the Gentiles as well.

25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.

Here Paul quotes from Hosea 2:23: “"I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, 'You are my God!' " And Hosea 1:10: “Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, "You are not My people ," It will be said to them, "You are the sons of the living God."

The context of which is Hosea’s ministry to the 10 northern tribes in Israel which were about to go into captivity. God declares that He is about to destroy them for their sins, but He also promises a future restoration. Hosea uses the analogy of a prostitute wife, who leaves her husband, but is attracted back and reconciled with her spouse. The Jews have been rejected, but not totally. God will bring them back.

Romans 9, if read in isolation of original context of the quotation, might suggest the people who are not God’s people are the Gentiles, who were before excluded, but now included in the promise. The quotation in its original context in Hosea, references the restoration of Israel, not Gentiles. So what Paul is saying here is that Israel is rejected, but even those that are rejected will be restored. So even thought God has made Israel a vessel of dishonor, they will become a vessel of honor.

Here as in verse 7, we see calling again, not used in the sense of vocation, but that of designation or naming. Again, as in verses 7 and 8, God names those who believe His children. Believers are God’s covenant people.

27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28 For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.

Here Paul quotes Isaiah 10:22-23: For though your people, O Israel, may be like the sand of the sea, Only a remnant within them will return; A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land.

The context here is the remnant that God saved in Isaiah’s time from the Assyrian king, and physically returned to Jerusalem. They were being punished, but were promised to be returned to the land. God had decreed destruction for the Assyrians, but the returning Jews would be spared.

The application here is that the Jews, although nationally cut off, punished and hardened, not all will be destroyed. They are not completely rejected. Punishment (hardening) has been declared for those around the remnant, but not all are cast away.

29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrah.

Here Paul quotes from Isaiah 1:9: Unless the LORD of hosts had left us a few survivors, we would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah.

The historical setting for this passage is somewhat unclear. It either took place at Jerusalem’s siege at the hands of Israel and Damascus or Jerusalem’s siege at the hands of Sennacherib of the Assyrians. The first time period seems more likely based on 1) Isaiah 6:1’s discussion of Uzziah’s death, as well as 2) the account of Sennacherib coming much later in chapter 36. This was a time of massive loss, death, suffering and destruction for the nation of Judah and was just before the fall of the Nation of Israel to the Assyrians.

The immediate context of the passage is God’s allowing the nation of Judah to undergo suffering and death, but He preserves a remnant. God sends Isaiah to tell the people to repent of their sins and turn back to God, or even the remnant will also be punished for their sins.

Again, Paul’s point is that although the Jews have been nationally rejected and condemned for their sins, not all Jews are rejected. Most of Israel is lost, but a remnant remains. This is the element of spiritual Israel within national Israel. Paul’s use of “seed” or remnant corresponds to his use of the word and point in verses 7 and 8. Not all national Israel will be saved, there’s a subgroup within Israel that God mercifully saves.

Isaiah and Hosea were contemporaries, both witnessing and prophesying about the Assyrian captivity. Both Isaiah’s quotes and Hosea’s related to Israel in their original contexts and here in Romans 9 are seen by the transition word “also”. However, Hosea is saying the rejected Jews will be restored in the future, but Isaiah is saying that some Jews are actually accepted now. In combination they demonstrate that though the Jews national are rejected and the Gentiles added in, yet the Jews are not altogether rejected or beyond God’s mercy.

30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.

Paul starts the conclusion of this section. The Gentiles were not the original recipients of the law and the promises as the national Jews were, nor did they struggle under the Law, but they have obtained righteousness. They are now embracing the Gospel and being justified by faith and have imputed righteousness.

31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.

Israel, though they were the original recipients of the Law and promises which they steadily pursued is being rejected. They are not embracing the Gospel, so they are not being justified by faith, so they have no imputed righteousness. Rather they are pursuing righteousness through the Law, but they have not obtained the Law either (i.e. kept the law perfectly), so they are not righteous either by keeping the Law or by imputation. This is the reason they are being hardened as a punishment and turned into a vessel of wrath. But it’s not irreversible.

32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone;

The reason the Jews are rejected is that they are seeking righteousness through the Law, not the imputed righteousness which is by faith. God has decided only to have mercy on those who have faith in the Gospel.

33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Here Paul quotes Isaiah 8:14: "Then He shall become a sanctuary; But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And Isaiah 28:16: Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.

Both these passages are prophetic about Christ and the two effects His ministry had. To believers, Christ brings salvation. To those that reject Him, their unbelief becomes their downfall, for which they become rejected and hardened by God.

No comments: