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Romans 9

October 9th, 2011 by Vic

October 9, 2011

Romans 9

“The Sovereignty of God”


In the last chapter, Paul introduced the term predestination (8:29) while assuring us that we who love God are united in the love of Christ and nothing can separate us from His love.  The greatest thing in the world is love.  The greatest tragedy in the world is to not know you are loved.


In the 1st 8 chapters we learned that all humanity has rejected God’s love.  God raised Jesus from the dead and sent His Spirit to give abundant life to all who believe in Christ because of His great love.


Now in chapter 9 Paul expresses his love for his fellow Jews.  He said he loved them so much he would be willing to be rejected by God if that would help them come to God.  The worst thing Paul felt could happen to him was to be separated from the love of God.  We can endure anything for love.  But Paul was willing to suffer rejection by God if Israel would receive the gospel.

Why has the nation not recognized their Messiah?  Why don’t they accept God’s gift of love?  Some Jews and some from other nations have by faith received God’s gift.  Why don’t all the Jews understand that all the promises in the OT have been fulfilled in Jesus?


The simple answer is they misunderstood the sovereignty of God.  Just like us, the God they served was distorted to fit their culture, needs, expectations, or religious agenda.


Paul tries to correct some of that distortion.  More than ½ of the O.T. quotes in Romans are in the next 3 chapters and about half of those quotes are from Isaiah.  Isaiah was preaching a message similar to Paul’s.  Only a few Jews believed the prophet’s message and only a remnant returned from captivity.  The nation refused to repent and rejected God’s offer of salvation.


Isaiah preached before the fall of the northern tribes.  He spoke of a remnant that would be faithful in the midst of sin, hard hearts, national defeat and destruction.


Romans 9:1-5

Being in Christ and being sustained by the Holy Spirit defines Paul’s Christianity.  As a Christian, Paul grieves for his people.  Lamenting over Israel is a common motif in the OT (Jer 4; Dan 9; Ezra 8).  It’s the love of God that breaks the heart of the man of God when the plan of God is rejected.  Paul assures them that God is patient and their destiny is not set in stone.


9:4  Paul describes how the Jews saw themselves.  God had a special love for the Jewish nation.  1st.  God called himself their Father.  They were adopted, chosen by God.  The glory of God came 1st to the Jews.  The covenants came 1st to the Jews.  The giving of the Law came 1st to the Jews.  The presence of God came in a tabernacle.  The worship rituals, the promises, all came 1st to the Jews.  The Messiah belongs to the Jews by birth and divine purpose, and He is God over all who believe.


The law (2:15), the circumcision of the heart (2:29), the prophets (3:21), the promise to Abram (4), the law of the Spirit of life (8:2) are fulfilled in the Gospel which Paul is preaching.  The nations have begun to experience the faithfulness of God which once seemed to be Israel’s special privilege.


Why is it that Gentiles are entering into the promises to Abraham so readily while most of the Jewish nation to whom the promises were given seems to be missing out?  Is God not faithful to the Jews?  Yes, God is faithful to the Jews.  God has not rejected the Jews.  His gospel of grace continues to reach out to the undeserving and ungodly.  The Gentiles believers cannot claim a monopoly on the promises of God.  The promises of God are still there for all unbelievers to claim by faith.


Romans 9:6-13

It seems like God’s Word didn’t change the world much.  Wickedness is common.   Why didn’t God just make Israel accept their Messiah?  Are some elect and others nonelect?


Paul says stop and look at the Scriptures again.  Not all God’s children are Abraham’s seed and not all Abraham’s seed are Jews (Gen 17:18-21).  You’ve misunderstood why God selected Israel to be His people and how He chose you.  You’ve misunderstood the covenant and God’s sovereignty.


Ishmael was circumcised 14 years before Isaac was born.  By law he was to carry the line of Abram.  They were all descendents of Abraham.  But God chose to make a covenant with Isaac and the descendents of the promise.  From man’s point of view Ishmael was the first born and should receive the major part of the inheritance.


Years later Isaac had 2 children: Esau and Jacob.  Isaac loved Esau the best.  He was the 1st born.  He would make a great leader.  Isaac had many children.  God chose Jacob.


Gods calls people of his own choosing.  He does not choose as man chooses.  His selection is not based on character, merit, good deeds, custom, or ritual.  His choice is based on a promise and a covenant.  From the start, God’s selection was not according to the law or man’s logic.  Israel’s own election was not in terms of natural descent and law but in terms of promise and faith.


God seems to make it clear that we are not selected as children of the flesh, but children of the promise.  He demonstrated in many ways that our relationship with Him must be by faith/promise.


God selected you before you were born.  He has planned all the good works you will ever do (Eph 2:10).  If you want to please Him, you must live by faith, abide in Christ, let His Spirit live in you, and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit.


God did not make all of us the same.  Some are elect to do math; some are not.  Some are elect to verbal skills; some are dyslexic.


God selects you just like He selected Israel, before you were born (Eph 2:10).  God loves you.  How will you respond to His love?  Give thanks?


The Jews thought their selection depended on their faithfulness to the Law.  We think like that too.  We say things like, he’d make a good Christian or God could never save him.  But that is not how God works.  God did not save you because He knew you would be a great preacher.  God did not save you because you joined the church, prayed the sinner’s prayer, or signed a membership card.


Doing all those things will not save you and give you a “get out of jail free” card.  You can’t be angry, bitter, holding a grudge, neglecting the poor, or being unfaithful in your relationships and think you’ll get to heaven because of some merit you have earned or because God loves you so much.  You are saved by faith and you must live by faith.


Our life style does not determine our selection, but it does determine our destiny.


It is all about relationship.  God has selected you.  He has demonstrated His love in Jesus.  What will you do with His love?  God is a lover and there are consequences for rejecting His love.


The Scripture says, God’s choice for Jacob was a choice against Esau.  Paul uses this for a transition to his next argument.



Is God unjust?  No, but He is sovereign.  Election does not depend on my desire and effort (my willing or working).  Paul uses Moses to support his argument.  In Exodus 32-33:19 Moses has been in God’s presence.  He comes down the Mt. and finds the people worshipping a golden calf.  He has just experienced a personal relationship with God.  His face was glowing with the glory of God and he finds his people worshipping a piece of metal.  He drops one of the most important documents this world has ever received from God.  Oops!


Moses is sure that this holy Creator God will destroy this stupid nation.  But what did God do?.  To this nation who is in obvious rebellion against God, God says “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and compassion on whom I have compassion.”  Our God delights in showing mercy.


By choosing some, God is rejecting others.  You say, “That’s not fair.”  It may not be fair in the judgment (which is based on works), but regarding selection and purpose, God can do what He wants to do.  Paul has previously discussed man’s responsibility, but right now he focuses on the sovereignty of God.  God is God.  At the end of chapter 11 he says continuing in faith is required to stay in the family of God.  By faith we are grafted in.


Selection is God demonstrating His character of mercy.  God’s mercy has nothing to do with what I have done or will do.  God’s purpose for mercy is that all will respond.  God selected the world by sending His Son.  When Jesus died, the world was selected.  For God so loved the world…


9:16  My desires and effort does not determine my selection.  My intentions and actions do not control God’s love, but they do determine my destiny.  His mercy and wrath are always intended to restore our relationship.  He is not willing that any should perish but that all will repent and be saved from the wrath to come.


9:17  God raised up Pharaoh so He could get glory.  Pharaoh hardened his heart until after the 7th plague, then God gave him what he wanted and hardened his heart.  Paul does not mention that because Paul is focusing on the sovereignty of God.  Human responsibility is brought in later.


Israel is now hardening their hearts, but God is still merciful and patient.  Some will be attracted to God’s love and some won’t.


How about you?  Have you hardened your heart against some sin you are doing?  Has the Holy Spirit quit talking to you about the old issue?


9:19  If I’m predestined God knew I was going to do it and He did not stop me so who am I to resist God?  Why does He fault me for just being me?  He made me the way I am.  It is His fault that I sin.


9:20 Think about the stupidity of reasoning with God.  I don’t even know how my brain was formed.  I can’t figure Him out.  I am creature; He is Creator.


Like the potter, God makes many kinds of vessels.  Some are prettier than others; some more functional.  He does not want flaws in any of them.  He can remake them.


A precious vessel can wrongly be used as a toy.  But God can remake a torture chamber into a sanctuary.  He is making all things new.  He can remake you into His image.


Some become vessels of mercy and other vessels of wrath.  He wants all to be vessels of mercy.  He is patient with the vessels of wrath.


Paul was aware that the Greeks believed in Fate.  Some believed that Zeus controlled Fate and some believed Zeus was also controlled by Fate.  Paul says we believe in a personal Sovereign God.  Human destiny is shaped by the purpose of God the Creator.  It is smart to honor Him and give thanks.


9:22  What if the Jews are now the vessels of wrath?  Paul quotes the Scripture that describes the return from exile.  Israel will go into exile and harden their hearts so others can be shown that God is merciful.  A righteous remnant of the Jews will return.


Israel has become objects of wrath by their rejection of Christ, but God’s purpose is to show mercy so that all will come to repentance, both Jew and Gentile.



The prophet Hosea saw the gospel extended to the Gentiles.  God’s purpose was not limited to the Jewish nation.  God is the God of all nations.  Sonship is offered to all who respond to the gospel.  God used the Jews’ rejection to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, but Paul expects all Israel to be saved (11:26).  In the meantime Israel should be thankful that God delays punishment.


The privilege of sonship with which Israel had been favored has now been extended to all who respond to God’s call through the gospel.



Judgment will be based on behavior in life, not selection.  Judgment will be based on how you live with the skills and opportunities God chose for you.


Jews pursued righteousness but did not find it in good works.  They confused zeal for God with zeal for ethnic purity.  They failed to follow the faith of Abraham.  The Gentiles did not pursue; they did not strive but found righteousness in the gospel by faith.


Jews looked for the Messiah, but didn’t find Him.  Gentiles did not look, but found Him.


Righteousness is defined as the fulfillment of the requirements of the law.  The Jew found he could not keep the whole Law, but the Gentiles found that the Law of love fulfilled the requirements of the Law of Moses.


Why did Israel fail to find righteousness?  Why do we fail?  We assume pleasing God is a matter of works rather than faith.  But it is all about a love relationship.  God looks for the obedience of faith from the heart.


God is patient.  He is showing you mercy.


God loves you.  God sent Jesus to give us a heart transplant so we could love Him.  God designed us so we function better when we love Him.


He is a jealous lover.  Will you choose to believe that God loves you?  Is Jesus a stone of stumbling to you or a rock of salvation?  (Isaiah 8:11)


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