You may not like this chapter (at first), but knowing it well is the key to having peace.
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Romans 9 (ESV)
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
3 For I could wish that I myself
were accursed and cut off from Christ
for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
4 They are Israelites,
and to them belong
the giving of the law,
and the promises.
5 To them belong the patriarchs,
and from their race,
according to the flesh,
is the Christ,
who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed.
For not all who
are descended from Israel
belong to Israel,
7 and not all are children of Abraham
because they are his offspring,
but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
8 This means that it is
not the children of the flesh who are the children of God,
but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
9 For this is what the promise said:
“About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”
10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
11 though they were not yet born
and had done nothing either good or bad—
in order that God’s purpose of election might continue,
not because of works but because of him who calls—
12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”
13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
15 For he says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 So then it depends
not on human will or exertion,
but on God, who has mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh,
“For this very purpose I have raised you up,
I might show my power in you,
and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
18 So then
he has mercy on whomever he wills,
and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?
Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
21 Has the potter no right over the clay,
to make out of the same lump
one vessel for honorable use
and another for dishonorable use?
22 What if God,
to show his wrath
and to make known his power,
has endured with much patience
vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
23 in order to make known
the riches of his glory
for vessels of mercy,
which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
24 even us whom he has called,
not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ ” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ” 27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.”
30 What shall we say, then?
who did not pursue righteousness
have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith;
31 but that Israel
who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness
did not succeed in reaching that law.
Because they did not pursue it
but as if it were based on works.
They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion
a stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Romans 9 Summary
What a massive change in tone between chapters 8 & 9! It shifts from one of the most triumphant in all of scripture to one of angst & sorrow. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, realizes that his own kin, the Jews, have by and large rejected the gospel.
Paul makes very clear that it was not God or His Word that failed in this rejection. Rather it's the flip side of the doctrine of God's sovereignty that gave us so much hope and confidence that God would never let us go that we read about yesterday.
On one hand, we rejoice that God is working out all things for those who are called, but then that also means that there are some that God has called to mercy, and others that He's left to harden.
Paul anticipates the difficulty we have by answering a couple of rhetorical questions:
v14 - Isn't God being unfair in arbitrarily choosing some for salvation but others for condemnation?
v19 - If everything has been predestined by God, doesn't that make us nothing more than robots going through the motions?
After answering these questions, Paul comes to a concludes there are two ways to attain the righteousness we need to be in communion with God:
By trying to accomplish it ourselves, like the Jews did by attempting to perfectly follow the law. This will never work.
By having faith in Christ, like so many Gentiles had done.
Romans 9 is definitely one of the most difficult chapters in the Bible for us to wrap our minds around, but this chapter is not here to confuse you or give you angst. It's here for your comfort. You should memorize v16:
So then salvation depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Your efforts and desire for salvation will come and go throughout your life, and it's quite likely that the days in which you feel ambivalent about God or even rebellious towards Him will outnumber those where you feel on fire in your faith.
Despite your fickle feelings, you can have confidence that your salvation is in God's sovereign control.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our sovereign God, who forms all things for His glory
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will confidently trust in God's sovereignty over all things
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: