In our last blog, God chose Jacob over Esau, who was the first-born. So God unjust in making such a choice? The apostle Paul says, “In no way!” (Rom.9:14) In fact, the case of the twins was a matter of mercy, not injustice or unrighteousness. So was it unjust for God to choose Jacob and his posterity to be the lineage of the Messiah, and to inherit the promises, rather than Esau and his posterity? No. Besides, God is righteous in proclaiming His Name and showing His glory through His goodness, grace and mercy. In fact, whenever God has mercy on anyone, it is pure mercy, without any human merit contributing to it.
In showing that God’s actions are not unfair, Paul cites Ex.33:19, where in showing His glory, He caused all His goodness to pass before Moses. It was at that time that God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” (v.15) In other words, God will show mercy and pity to anyone in misery that He wants to, and He will show compassion and sympathy to anyone He chooses!
So, then, we can see that in regards to these choices of God in showing mercy and compassion, it doesn’t depend on the one who is willing (like Ishmael), nor on the one who runs (like Esau, or a devote Jew in his intensity of devotion), but it depends on God who has and shows mercy [cf. I Pt.2:10]. (v.16)
Regarding God’s mercy and choices, and that His actions are not unfair, the Scripture says to the cruel and oppressive Pharaoh in Ex.9:16, “Therefore, for this very purpose I have raised you up (to your position and role) so that I might demonstrate or show My power through you, and that in this way My Mane might be proclaimed and known in all the earth.” (v.17)
So, then, as in Pharaoh’s case, with righteousness and justice God exercises mercy on whomever He wills [Ps.115:3; 135:6; Rom.9:22; I Tim.2:4]; and on whomever He wills, with righteousness and justice He hardens [cf. Pv.21:1], thus causing the heart to be unyielding [Ex.7:3; 9:10-11]). (v.18).
Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Ex.7:13-14,22; 8:18-19; 9:34-35); the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart to not let the people go in order that He would multiply His signs and wonders in Egypt (Ex.7:3; 9:12; 4:21; 10:19:20,26-27; 11:9-10; 14:8); the Lord hardens the Egyptians’ hearts so that God will be honored through Pharaoh and his army (Ex.14:16-17). God hardens other hearts: Dt.2:30; Josh.11:19-20. Man hardens his own heart or it is already hardened: Jer.19:15; Dt.10:16; II Kgs.17:14; II Chr.30:8; 36:11-13; Neh.9:16-17,29; Ps.95:8; Pv.29:1; Jer.7:26; 17:23.
As shown in our last blog, Israel’s failure to obtain salvation is significant. However, as Paul points out, it is not as though the word of God to Israel has failed. Why not? Because not all those who are descended from the physical nation of Israel are the descendants of the patriarch Jacob—whose name was Israel—and belong to the Israel of promise. (9:6) *Josh.23:13-14; Gen.17:7-8; Rom.2:28-29*
nor because they are all natural descendants of Abraham are they all children of the promise, but as God chose and promised in Gen.21:12, THE LINE OF ISAAC WILL BE CALLED YOUR DESCENDANTS [or, IT IS IN THE LINEAGE OF ISAAC THAT YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE CALLED] and not Ishmael’s (v.7). *Rom.4:13,16-17; Gal.4:22-23*
In other words, it’s not all the physical descendants who are considered the children of God, but it’s the children in fulfillment of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s true descendants (v.10). *Jn.1:12; Rom.4:16; Gal.4:22-31* Really? Yes, because this is the word of the promise which is found in Gen.17:21 & 18:10: AT THIS TIME NEXT YEAR I WILL COME, AND SARAH WILL HAVE A SON, Isaac (v.9).
Not only that, but the same thing also happened to Rebecca when she had conceived twins by one man, “our father [or, ancestor], Isaac” (v.10), Paul points out. *Gen.25:21-24*23
For though the twins had not yet been born, neither had they done anything good or bad (since character had not yet been formed, nor commenced the period of moral agency), but so that God’s purpose according to election [or, (His) choice] might stand–not of works that they had done but from Him who calls (v.11), *cf. Rom.8:28; Eph.1:11; 3:11//cf. Rom.11:5-6,28* it was said to her in Gen.25:23, THE OLDER SON, ESAU WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER SON, JACOB (v.12); *Gen.27:38-40; cf. II Sam.8:14* just as it was written in Mal.1:2-3 regarding the Lord’s word to Israel and how he showed His love to the nation by preferring Jacob over his brother, Esau, COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED (v.13) *Gen.25:23; cf. I Jn.4:20; Lk.14:26; Gen.29:30-31; Mt.10:37*
So, no. God’s Word has not failed regarding Israel. But there is more to the story.
The apostle Paul was well aware that Israel had fallen short of God’s covenant and saving promises. Nevertheless, we find that God is not only faithful to His covenant to Israel but also to His pledges to the Gentiles. In the following chapters the apostle shows us that God’s plan in history demonstrates His faithfulness in fulfilling those promises.
Paul begins this chapter by telling his readers “the truth in Christ, “and that he is not lying, his conscience bearing witness with him in the Holy Spirit (9:1) *cf. Rom.2:15; 8:16//cf. I Tim.2:5-7* to something exceeding important: That he has great sorrow, and unceasing anguish & pain in his heart (v.2)
because he could almost wish that he was cursed, separated from Christ for the sake of his brethren, his kinsmen by race according to the flesh, because of their failure to obtain salvation (v.3). *cf. Ex.32:32; II Sam.18:33*
Israel’s failure is significant. Think about who they are and God’s blessings and promises to them: They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption as sons, the rights of spiritual sonship, the Shekinah glory of the divine Presence, the divine Covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship service, and the promises of God (v.4). *cf. Ex.4:22; 33:18-23; Neh.9:13-14; Ex.29:43-46//Heb.7:6; Gal.3:16, 21; Acts 26:6-7*
Not only that! But to them belong the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), and from them is traced the ancestry of Christ according to the flesh! this is the One who is over all, together with the Father, and He rules supreme! God blessed throughout the ages. Amen!! *Dt.10:15; Isa.7:14//Rom.10:12; cf. Eph.4:6* No, God has not forgotten such people, as we shall see in the coming months!
The apostle Paul asks the question, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things regarding our present sufferings (that he mentioned in our last blog), the glory to be revealed, and God’s perfect plan and purposes in salvation? Just this–If God is for us and is on our side, who can truly and successfully be against us? (8:31) *cf. Rom.8:33,35,37,39*
Think about it: He who had not spared His own Son but delivered Him up unto death for us all (God is for us!), how will He not also along with Him freely give us everything else that is needed for our welfare in all circumstances and situations (v.32)?! *cf. Jn.19:15-16; Eph.5:2,25*
In fact, who will bring a charge against God’s chosen elect since God doesn’t accuse them? After all, God is the One pronouncing them righteous [or, justifying (them)] (v.33)! *Acts 26:2,7//Lk.18:3,6-8*
Who then, is the one passing sentence on, and condemning us? Is it Christ? No! In fact, Jesus is the One who died for us, yea, rather has been raised from the dead, and who is also at the right hand of God, which is the place of highest honor and power. He also intercedes for us, pleading our case, and is able to save to the uttermost, those who draw near to God through Him. (v.34) *I Cor.11:31-32//Heb.7:23-25*
Though you and I will unavoidably face suffering, who will ever separate us from Christ’s love for us? Will trouble, or difficulty, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword of our enemies (v.35)? *Rom.8:36-39//Eph.3:16,18// Rev.1:4-6; Rev.2:9-10; 7:14; II Cor.12:10; 11:26-27; Heb.11:32-40* Just as it is written in Psalm 44:22, FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE KILLED [or, WE FACE DEATH] ALL THE DAY LONG, WE HAD BEEN REGARDED AS SHEEP FOR SLAUGHTER (v.36). *ct. II Cor.6:3-4,9// cf. Acts 8:32*
No, but in all these afflictions we more than conquer [or, are more than conquerors] with an overwhelming and surpassing victory over our trials and adversaries through the One who loves us (v.37). *cf. Rom.12:21; I Jn.2:13-14; 5:4; Rev.12:11//cf. Gal.2:20*
The apostle Paul was persuaded and absolutely convinced that neither death, nor life here on earth with its trials and pleasures, neither angels, nor principalities, neither things present, nor things to come, nor powers (v.38), *II Cor.1:9-10; I Cor.15:51-57; Eph.6:12; Gal.1:4* nor height above, nor depth below, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed and found in Christ Jesus our Lord (v.39)! *Rom.8:35-38//cf. Rom.5:5; ct. Lk.11:42//cf. Jude 21; ct. Isa.59:1-2; Heb.7:26//I Tim.1:13-14; II Tim.1:13* So, who is on your side?!
Regarding our last blog, the apostle Paul now asks what should be said in response to the readers’ present sufferings, the glory to be revealed, and God’s perfect plan and purposes in salvation. Well, just this: If God is for us and on our side, who can truly and successfully be against us (Rom.8:31)? *cf. Rom.8:33,35,37,39*
God, who had not spared His own Son but had delivered Him up unto death for us all–God is for us!,–how will He not also along with Him freely give us everything else that is needful for our welfare in all circumstances and situations (v.32)? *cf. Jn.19:15-16; Eph.5:2,25*
Who will bring a charge against the chosen ones [or, elect] of God since God doesn’t accuse them? In fact, if we think about it, God is the One who pronounces them righteous [or, justifies them] (v.33)! *Acts 26:2,7//Lk.18:3,6-8*
So, who then, is the one passing sentence on, and condemning them/us? Is it Christ? No! In fact, He is the One who has died for them/us, yea, rather who has been raised from the dead, and who is also at the right hand of God, which is the place of highest honor and power. Jesus is also the One, who intercedes for us, pleading our case, and is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him. (v.34) *I Cor.11:31-32//Heb.7:23-25*
Though we will unavoidably face suffering, who will ever separate us from Christ’s love for us? Will trouble, or difficulty, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword of our enemies (v.35)? *Rom.8:36-39//Eph.3:16,18// Rev.1:4-6; Rev.2:9-10; 7:14; II Cor.12:10; 11:26-27; Heb.11:32-40* Just as it is written in Psalm 44:22, FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE KILLED [or, WE FACE DEATH] ALL THE DAY LONG, WE HAD BEEN REGARDED AS SHEEP FOR SLAUGHTER (v.36). *ct. II Cor.6:3-4,9// cf. Acts 8:32*
Nothing like that can separate us from Christ’s love. In fact, in all these afflictions we more than conquer with an overwhelming and surpassing victory over our trials and adversaries through the One who has loved us. (v.37). *cf. Rom.12:21; I Jn.2:13-14; 5:4; Rev.12:11//cf. Gal.2:20*
The apostle Paul is absolutely convinced–and so should we be–that neither death, nor life here on earth with its trials and pleasures, neither angels, nor principalities, neither things present, nor things to come, nor powers (v.38), *II Cor.1:9-10; I Cor.15:51-57; Eph.6:12; Gal.1:4* nor height above, nor depth below, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed and found in Christ Jesus our Lord (v.39)!! *Rom.8:35-38//cf. Rom.5:5; ct. Lk.11:42//cf. Jude 21; ct. Isa.59:1-2; Heb.7:26//I Tim.1:13-14; II Tim.1:13* Amen and amen!!
In our last blog the apostle Paul said that both we and creation groan and wait in hope for the coming glory. Now, in these verses he reminds us that in the same way, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in our hearts, also helps us in our weakness in prayer. How? By joining His activity with our frailty because we really don’t know what we should pray for in various situations and circumstances. It’s the indwelling Holy Spirit Himself who intercedes in our hearts for us with groans that can’t be expressed in words; He does this so that we come in line with God’s purposes. (8:26). *Zech.12:10//II Cor.12:8-9; Lk.10:40//Eph.6:18; I Cor.14:15; Mt.6:5-13; Mk.11:23-26; Lk.18:1-8; Ja.5:13-18//cf. I Sam.1:13*
At the same time, the Father, who searches our hearts, knows from the Holy Spirit’s groanings what is on His mind or what His intentions are. The fact is, He is always interceding for the saints in harmony with God’s will, and so He helps us pray according to God’s will–no matter what the circumstances (v.27). *cf. Rom.8:34; Heb.7:25*
So, even though we don’t know particularly what we should pray for, we still know that for those who love God, He works all things together for good, whether its sufferings inflicted on us or the things we hope for. What He works for good is also in connection with His perfect plan, as well as our becoming Christ-like. He does this for those who are called according to His purpose in salvation; (v.28) *cf. Ja.1:12; I Cor.2:9; Ja.2:5//cf. I Cor.1:23-24//Eph.1:11; II Tim.1:9*
Notice this: In God’s purpose, those who love Him, and whom He foreknew [or, knew beforehand; cf. Rom.11:2], He also predestined [or, predetermined] them to be conformed to the image [or, inner likeness] of His Son, in order for Him to be the first-born (preeminent in position and rank) among a vast family of many brothers and sisters; (v.29) *Rom.8:30//II Cor.3:18; Col.3:10//cf. Ex.4:22*
and those whom He predestined to be conformed to Christ’s image, these also He called by His grace through the Gospel [Lk.14:16-24]; and those whom He called, these He also justified freely by His grace through faith in Christ [Rom.3:21-24,28,30; II Thes.2:13-14; II Tim.1:9]; and these whom He justified by faith apart from works of the law, these He also glorified to a heavenly dignity and condition, although it has not yet happened–even so it is still considered as good as done. (v.30) Hallelujah! *II Thes.2:14; ct. Lk.14:16-24//Rom.8:18; 3:24,28*
Think about this: If we are children evidenced by a transformed heart and life, then we also are heirs of the Kingdom with the confident expectation of eternal life–heirs, in fact, of God Himself, who is the heritage of His people. We also are co-heirs with Christ, if so be that we share in His sufferings in order that we also might be glorified with Him hereafter. (v.17) *Heb.1:2; Gal.4:6-7; Titus 3:7; Ja.5:7//Phil.1:29; I Pe.2:21-23; 4:12-14; cf. Rev.2:10//Phil.3:8-11; I Jn.3:2; cf. Rom.8:9*
All this is because the apostle Paul considers the endured suffering that was experienced at that present time was not worth comparing with the coming glory that is to be revealed in us and to us (v.18). *II Cor.1:3-7; cf. Col.1:24; Heb.10:32-37; I Pe.4:13; 5:8-10//I Pe.5:1*
And think about creation: The earnest expectation of the entire creation waits eagerly on tiptoe, so to speak, for the time of the revelation of the sons of God, that is, our future glorification (v.19)! *cf. Col.3:4*
It waits eagerly because the creation has been subjected to frustration/futility in not fulfilling the purpose for which it was created. It did not experience this by its own choice but because of God who subjected it—yet it was still done in hope (v.20) *Gen.3:17-19; Rom.5:12; cf. Isa.24:5-6* that the creation itself will also be set free from its bondage to decay, and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children (v.21); *cf. Col.2:21-22; Rev.22:3-5* because we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain as in childbirth, right up until now in its decay and incompleteness, since it hasn’t fulfilled its purpose (v.22). *cf. Jer.12:10-11*
Not only does creation groan and travail, but also we ourselves do. We, who have the foretaste of the Spirit, groan inwardly with anguish as we wait eagerly for the realization of the full adoption as sons and daughters–that is, the future redemption of our body (i.e., the resurrection) (v.23), *cf. II Cor.5:1-5//Rom.8:19//cf. Rom.8:15*
It’s in this hope that have been saved. However, the object of hope that is seen is not hope at all. For what any one already sees, why would he still hope for it (v.24)? But if what we do not see we hope for, then, says Paul, with patience and perseverance we keep on waiting eagerly for it (v.25)!! *Gal.5:5; Phil.3:20-21*