Today: [Romans 9:] The Stone that the Builders Rejected: In chapter 9 of Romans Paul addresses the fate of the nation of Israel. They received the law of righteousness given through Moses, and they were the bloodline by which Jesus came into the world. They did not, however (except for a remnant) accept the salvation found in Christ and therefore they are rejected while the Gentile nations who were alienated under the Old Covenant will be accepted in the New when they come by way of faith in Christ Jesus and the finished work of Calvary.
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[Rom 9:1-15 KJV] 1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 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 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, [are they] all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 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. 9 For this [is] the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10 And not only [this]; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, [even] by our father Isaac; 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;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 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.
In chapter 9 of Romans, Paul laments the state of affairs befalling the Jews because they have rejected Jesus the Messiah. He went so far as to say in verse 3 that would that he might be accursed from Christ for his brothers, his kinsmen after the flesh. Notice he makes that distinction because Paul now knows that his kinship in Christ is also with believers of every nation and is stronger than any other bond from his natural lineage. The Israelites (v. 4) received the covenants of Abraham and the law of Moses, and all that implies, but (v. 8) they nonetheless are not counted as the seed of God even as the seed of Abraham who was numbered according to the promise and not by the law. As far as God is concerned Isaac was an only child. As far as God is concerned, you are an only child. If you and you alone were the recipients of salvation, He still would have sent Jesus to pay the price to bring you into His family.
What about the Jew? He is prefigured (v. 11) in the twin brothers Esau and Jacob. The elder would serve the younger. What is this saying? That the elder born (the Jews) served us – the community of faith by being that nation used by God to bring forth Jesus who paid for the sins of the whole world. That is why there is no validity in any anti-semitic sentiments or viewpoints. Regardless of the Jews’ rejection of Jesus, we still owe them as a people because they were the bloodline through whom Jesus came to us that we might be saved. Is this a just arrangement (that God chooses to pour his love upon those born of Christ as the chosen seed and not the Jews after the law?) God forbid, God is never unjust although this is the often repeated accusation by Jew and Gentile alike. God is not unfair. Even in the law, the declaration is “I will have mercy on whom I would have mercy…” The Jews understood the asymmetrical nature of God’s favor and accepted that as long as they benefited from it but now they don’t recognize it as a truth applying to anyone other than themselves.
[Romans 9:16-33 KJV]
16 So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17 For the scripture saith unto 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. 18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will [have mercy], and whom he will he hardeneth. 19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed [it], Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 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. 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. 29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. 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. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
In verse 16 we are told that it is not in the will of man or the power of man’s will to decide what one’s fate might be [either as a nation (in this case the Jews) or ourselves as individual.] If you are found to be a recipient of the favor of God it isn’t saying anything about a choice you have made but everything about a choice God made to show you clemency in Christ before you ever had the opportunity to accept Jesus because He is the lamb slain not merely 2000 years ago but before the foundation of the world was ever laid.
Again we ask the question, if the acceptance of the believer and the rejection of the Jew is only a reflection of God’s choice then does this make God unfair? Did God not know how this would go (i.e. that the Jews would reject Jesus, their Messiah?). In v. 17 Paul points out that Pharoah was raised up to be who he was and do what he did in order that God might make His name known in the earth. What does this tell us? It informs us that even those who are outside the ark of salvation are part of the economy of God. Are they in that position because they never had a chance to accept Christ? No, because God has given to every man the measure of faith – if they choose not to accept the salvation of God in Christ then they become as Pharaoh, a cautionary example of the sovereignty of God even in the lives of those who shake their fist in His face. So, (v. 18) God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, who does He have mercy on? Those who come to Him by faith in Christ. Those whom He will He hardeneth. Does that mean that God deliberately hardened their heart and refused to allow them the opportunity? No that is not what it means. It means that the faith God gave them to accept Christ had the opposite effect because they were unwilling to relinquish their self-directed lives as Neitche who declared “better to rule in hell than reign in Heaven…” He got his wish as will every person who rejects Christ.
Thus, Judaism was not arbitrarily excluded by God in a capricious way, rather they excluded themselves in spite of all that God did to illuminate them and bring them a savior in Christ Jesus – therefore God’s will not be denied so He calls us a people who were not a people outside of Judaism as His very own and calls us His beloved in the New Testament that were excluded in the Old. Can a Jew get saved? Yes, he can. How, by simply being a Jew? No, that is not enough in the New Covenant. In the Old Testament to be born a Jew was to be born into the favor of God that was not extended to the Gentile. In the New Testament, however, the Jew must come to God on the same basis as the Gentile – by faith in Christ, there is no other approach to God. Have any Jews taken this offer of salvation? As Isaiah is quoted by Paul in v. 27 yes – a remnant shall be saved, but the remainder (because they rejected Christ) become an example of God using them in spite of themselves, and thus they fall condemned into eternity without God as will every Gentile who rejects the Gospel.
What is the conclusion we make here? The Gentile nations that knew not the righteousness of God nor had any path of salvation under the Old Covenant now find it in the New even the righteousness which is of faith that has nothing to do with pedigree or religious performance but rather the free gift of grace accessed by faith when that faith is expressed in the finished work of Calvary. What will then become of Israel? Because they received the law of righteousness but did not follow after righteousness when revealed by faith in Christ they have stumbled and will be lost unless they come by way of the stone that the builders rejected. Only those who accept Jesus as the foundation stone of their life, not their good works or moral excellence will be admitted into the work of redemption. All others shall be left in shame.
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