Thursday, February 6, 2014

Advent Archive: Romans 9:25-33

For over a thousand years, the Jewish people prided themselves on the fact that God had chosen them. Their understanding of why He chose them was a little bit flawed, but it still brought them a great sense of nationalistic pride and self-identity.
Scripture makes it excessively clear that God had chosen them as a people from which He would heal the sin problem that Adam had brought on the entire world. He had begun by showing grace to Noah, then to Noah’s descendant Abram, then to Abraham’s descendant Judah, then to Judah’s descendant David, and then to David’s descendant Jesus. It was intentional that He was choosing this group of descendants of Abraham to bring about redemption for all of mankind. Would this Savior of the world be a Savior of the Jews too? Certainly, the Jews are part of the whole world, but the election of the Jews by God had distracted them. They saw it as the thing that made them better than all the other nationalities. They did not see the unfolding purpose of God funneling His sovereign grace through them, they thought that He was simply funneling His sovereign grace to them and excluding the rest of the world.
This racist elitism was shattered by Paul’s teaching in Romans 9. He explained that it was God’s plan to extend redemption and salvation beyond the Jewish nation to all those who would believe in the work of Jesus. This was very disturbing to the Jews who viewed the Gentiles as “dogs” and “heathen.”
In response, they questioned Paul with “Why?” “Why would God extend His blessing to the “heathen dogs”?” Paul asks this very same question to himself rhetorically in verse 32, “Wherefore?” (it means “why”) He then answers their question and his own rhetorical question with “because of faith.” Before Abraham and the Jewish nation, believers in God were called into the family of faith. Men like Melchisidec who were non-Jewish, had access by faith into the blessing of God. Nothing had changed, God still extended salvation to all those who came in faith, Jew or Gentile. The only transition that had taken place was that the object of their faith would have to shift from a more general “faith in God,” to a more specific “faith in Jesus.”
But the Jews had shifted away from lives of faith. They saw the law of God not as something that God had presented for their living, but for their own earning. This caused them to live lives dependent on themselves not God. They thought that God would be pleased with them simply because of their obeying His law. The blessing was never meant to come from obedience to the law apart from faith, it was simply going to come through obedience with faith in God. Since they didn’t have faith, God made it apparent that He would extend His grace to those who would have faith, the Gentiles. Now, there is therefore now no condemnation. The just are justified by faith. It is something that transcends a culture or a race. It goes beyond skin color to the broad family of faith. There is one race of people, and God offers His grace to all who will believe on His name.

Food for Thought: Read Romans 9:25-33. Is Paul arguing that God is done with the Jews? What is the only way of access for both Jews and non-Jews?