Romans 9 Study 2

Rom 9:1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”

During the Old Testament and the New Testament people wanted to follow a certain bloodline. That is precisely what the Pharisees did in that they assumed that because they were born of a certain bloodline and in a certain nation that meant that they were of the truth. This is one of the reasons why the teaching of Jesus to Nicodemus was so shocking. Nicodemus was not only born an Israelite, but he was a leader among the Pharisees. In his mind he had the right bloodline and the right religion. However, he made the same mistake that so many do today. They do not see that it is all by the grace of God and not something that they were born with or can do.

The Pharisees were proud of their being able to trace their descent back to Abraham, yet they did not understand the promises to Abraham and his seed. According to Galatians 3:16-19, the promise to the seed of Abraham was Christ Himself and not to all the physical descendants of Abraham. Throughout the Old Testament we see that the vast majority of the nation of Israel was unfaithful to God who had made a national covenant with them, yet we also see a faithful line that endured through all the hardships. This faithful line was the line that was the physical line that came from Abraham and yet also stretched from Eve to Christ. The faithful seed (Christ) of Abraham was the seed of the woman who crushed the head of the serpent.

It is so hard to get rid of the notion that Christianity can be passed on from one generation to another by various means. This is clear when we look at the children of Isaac who was the child of promise to Abraham. From Isaac’s wife Rebekah the promised seed was passed on, but it only went to and through one of twins. This is something that all need to read with great care. The specific teaching of this passage of Scripture is that before the twins were born and before they had done anything good or bad, Rebekah was told that the older would serve the younger. But again, notice very carefully and with prayer that this was according to the purpose and choice of God and not because of the works of the two men. In fact, it appears that Esau might have been the more likable of the two and was certainly less conniving. But it is not according to how much a person may or may not be liked and it is not according to the works of a person. Instead, it is totally up to God who calls.

The context of this passage is still important. Paul is setting out why God’s promises to Israel should not be thought of as failing. God’s promise to bring forth the Messiah through the seed of promise did not fail. The promise can only be thought of as failing when it is thought that the promises of God were to a physical seed or a physical nation. The promises of God did not fail to His people and to the objects of His real promises. This is a vital issue as one continues through Romans chapter 9 as well as what has gone before. The focus must be on God and not man. The issue is not that all men should have a chance, but it is on who God is. The issue is not how could God’s promises faith because the nation of Israel was done away with, but it is on how the promises of God are based on His own choice and His own character and all of His true seed will be saved. For the moment, however, we must look directly at this passage of Scripture and not run from it. Before the twins were born (from all eternity in reality) and before they had done anything good or bad, Isaac was chosen over Esau. The older served the younger so that God’s purposes would stand. The focus must be on God Himself.

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