Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Great Sorrow for Israel (Romans 9:1-5)

Many teach that Romans 9-11 are an interruption in Paul’s doctrinal teaching on the Gospel before he moved into its application in Romans 12. However, a careful study of Romans 9-11 reveals that this section is not an interruption or a parenthesis but is a necessary part of Paul’s argument for justification by grace through faith. Don’t forget that because of his preaching of the Gospel, Paul was considered a traitor to the Jewish nation and an enemy of Judaism. Paul was perceived as preaching against the people (Jews), preaching against the Law, and preaching against God (see Romans 2:17 and Acts 21:27-28).

So the book of Romans is Paul’s explanation of the Gospel which shows that he was not preaching against the people, the Law, or God but that the Gospel is validated by the Word of God. And whatever you do don’t forget that Paul’s explanation of the Gospel is inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the Word of God, and is absolute truth.

Paul was hated by the Jews for his ministry to the Gentiles and his teaching of salvation by grace and the total inability of being justified by the Law of Moses. Paul preached this Gospel of grace in many synagogues in many places as he carried the good news to the Jew first and through doing so he caused trouble everywhere he went. The religious but lost Jews viewed the Gospel message as dangerous and unscriptural. They viewed it as dangerous because they thought that justification by faith gave the license to sin as much as one wanted (Romans 6:1, 15). They viewed it as unscriptural because it taught that the Jews were actually condemned by the Law and couldn’t be justified by the Law (Romans 2:17 – 3:20). Since the Jews hated the message Paul preached they also hated the messenger. This is why Paul was considered a traitor to the Jewish nation and many wanted to kill him.

This caused Paul great sorrow and increasing grief. He wasn’t trying to make anyone mad but out of love he was telling them the truth. Paul went to great lengths explaining that he wasn’t anti-Jewish, that he wasn’t anti-Law, and that he wasn’t anti-God. Paul wanted the Jews to know that they were wrong just as he had been at one time. Paul wanted the Jews to examine the Scriptures and see that what he was saying was so. He desired above all else their coming to the saving knowledge of the truth and not their condemnation.

Despite Paul’s love for his people which he made evident over and over through his uncompromising stand on the truth, his great patience, and his gentleness correcting those who were in opposition, the majority still would not believe. Paul had the joy of salvation by grace through faith but he had the sorrow and grief of his kinsmen according to the flesh continually resisting the Holy Spirit and rejecting the Gospel of Christ. There was a Scriptural reason for Israel’s resistance and rejection which Paul taught in Romans 9-11 so that this section is still doctrinal and still the Holy Spirit inspired explanation of justification by grace through faith.

Paul had argued in Romans 8 that the believer is secure in Jesus Christ and that God’s election would stand (Romans 8:28-39). Because the Jews had wrongly interpreted God’s Word concerning election they believed that any member of the Jewish nation would be allowed into heaven based on his heritage as a Jew. The Gospel that Paul proclaimed clearly taught that just because a man is a Jew is no guarantee that he is going to heaven. So in the minds of the Jews if all Jews were not saved then God has failed to keep His promise and the very character of God was at stake.

Many who still misinterpret God’s Word today concerning the doctrine of election think that God either made a mistake or that His Word has failed. They may ask the question, “What about the Jews? They were chosen by God, and yet you now say that He has set them aside and that God is building His church. Did God fail to keep His promises to Israel? Is His Word really sure and true? If God was not faithful to the Jews, how do we know He will be faithful to the church?"

Paul will explain all that the Jews had misunderstood and how they had improperly interpreted God’s Word to show that God did not make a mistake, that His Word has not and will not fail, and that God’s character is not at stake because He is always true to His Word and His promises.

Here in Romans 9:1-5 we see Paul’s great sorrow for Israel because of her great stumbling.

Great sorrow for Israel (Romans 9:1-3) – Paul loved Israel and had a strong passion for her salvation. Paul understood completely the powerful bondage of corrupt and apostate religion on his people because he had been there once himself. Paul also understood the powerful deliverance from such deception and sin through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wanted his fellow Jews to see the truth of justification by faith and experience the liberation and joy of salvation by grace.

The unrepentant and unbelieving condition of Israel caused Paul to have great sorrow and increasing grief in his heart, so much so that Paul could wish himself accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of his kinsmen. But if the Lord Jesus becoming a curse on the cross of Calvary wouldn’t change their minds neither would Paul’s becoming accursed. Paul and Moses both were willing to be cursed and separated from Christ if it would mean the salvation of Israel.

Great stumbling by Israel (Romans 9:4-5) – The Israelites lived with great privileges because of God’s covenant with Abraham and His choosing of Jacob. They were privy to the blessings and protection of God because of God’s choice of bringing the Christ through the nation of Israel. Israel was adopted by God as His own people (Exodus 4:22-23). He gave them His glory in the tabernacle and temple. He gave them His covenants which He gave to Abraham. He gave them the Law through Moses. He gave them the temple services. He gave them the promises and the patriarchs. The purpose of all this blessing was to bring Jesus Christ into the world through Israel to accomplish justification by faith. But in spite of these blessings Israel failed and rejected her Messiah.

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