I began my Bible reading for this week sitting on an airplane headed to Israel. The excitement and joy of traveling to the land that Jesus lived, walked, and ministered overcame any thought or dread of the upcoming ten hour flight to Tel Aviv. When I opened my Bible to text in Romans, I could barely believe my eyes. For this week, we were about to read Romans nine, ten, and eleven. Three specific chapters in the Bible that deal directly with the nation of Israel and God’s promises to them. And here I am sitting on an airplane headed to Israel while reading about God’s promises and faithfulness to His people Israel!
I am always amazed at the way the Lord orchestrates things in our life according to His plan and purposes. When we read through Romans 8 we were given some incredible promises; no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, the suffereings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us, all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose, God is for us so who can be against us, nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. These are great and precious promises for the believer that fill our hearts with great hope, comfort, and joy. And yet, when we begin to Romans 9 Paul begins to express a great heaviness and sorrow that is in his heart. Why the sorrow Paul?
The sorrow that fills Paul’s heart as he stand on this mountaintop of grace, is because of his Jewish brethren who have not come to Christ. I pray that I have the same heart as Paul for those people I know who have not yet come to Christ. Yet Paul’s concern is for his brethren, the people of Israel who have been given the Word of God, seen the glory of God, and have the promises of God, and yet remain in unbelief. Some might begin to wonder what happened? Are God’s promises no good? Has God cast off His people? If God’s promises failed Israel, will God’s promises fail me? If God cast of Israel, will God cast me away? The answer from Paul is a resounding NO.
These chapters in the book of Romans are not meant to cause doubt in our lives, but rather to give us great assurance of the wisdom and mercy of God. What we read is a record and reminder of God’s faithfulness to an unfaithful and rebellious people. It is to this disobedient and contrary people that God is reaching out His hand to all the day long. The clear message from the text is that God has not given up on the nation Israel. In fact, God in His wisdom, His grace, His sovereignty, has not given up on Israel but rather has made a way for the gentiles to be saved too! Fulfilling the Old Testament promise that whosoever would call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. In saving the gentiles the Lord will provoke the Jews to jealousy. It is clear, God is not done with Israel and Israel will be saved!
As for our questions and wonder about the faithfulness and mercy of God, we are left with no doubt about God’s promises to Israel and God’s promises to us. In fact, the mercy of God that is revealed in these chapters are the very thing Paul will use to extort us in Romans 12 to surrender our lives in worship to the Lord. No wonder Paul cries out in Romans 11:33 “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”
Just as God has not cast off Israel, just as God’s promises to the nation Israel have not and will not fail, God’s promises to you and I in Christ Jesus are sure and steadfast. The only question left now is what will we do in the light of God’s mercy and faithfulness? Will we allow our lives to be conformed or squeezed into the mold of this world? Or will we respond to God’s mercy. Will we present our lives as an offering of worship to the Lord, and allow Him to transform us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ? My prayer for each of us this week is that we would respond to God’s mercy and come to that place of surrender in our lives.
In Christ, Pastor Micah