Lesson 31

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has come to nothing. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel. 9:7 Neither, because they are Abrahamís seed, are they all children. But, "In Isaac will your seed be called." 9:8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as a seed. 9:9 For this is a word of promise, "At the appointed time I will come, and Sarah will have a son." 9:10 Not only so, but Rebecca also conceived by one, by our father Isaac. 9:11 For being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls, 9:12 it was said to her, "The elder will serve the younger." 9:13 Even as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

 Today's Lesson 

Paul had expressed his grief and concern that his "relatives according to the flesh," the Jews, had for the most part not accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God. He had even gone so far as to say that he would trade places with them if he could and become accused if it would mean they would be saved. But unless anyone misunderstands him once again he returns to the thoughts that he had expressed earlier in this Epistle. He had written that a Jew was not one who had been circumcised in the flesh but one who had been circumcised in the heart. In other worlds, even in Judaism, it was the inner conversion that God looks at, not the outward expression of piety.


So he declares, Godís message was effective, even with Israel. Not everyone born of Abraham was a child of the promise. Abraham had other children, but only through Isaac did the lineage of promise reside. God had not promised to bless Abraham through other children he would have from other wives. He had promised that Abraham would be blessed through the child that Sarah would bear. Though her maidservant would also bear Abrahamís child, that child did not carry the blessing that God had promised.


Even back then God chose some people for His purpose and did not choose others. A clearer example from Scripture is that of the twins born of Abrahamís son. Esau was the elder of the two and Jacob was born after him. By every tradition Esau should have received the blessing. But it was prophesied even before their birth that, "The elder will serve the younger." Jacob received the blessing and became the child of the promise.


Even as a child I was bothered by the life of Jacob. If there was anyone who did not deserve the blessing of God it seemed to be Jacob. He was a schemer. He tricked his brother into trading his birthright for a meal. Jacob (and his mother!) deceived his father so that his father would bless him instead of Esau. He cheated his father-in-law out of herds of animals. He showed such favoritism among his children that all of his other sons hated his favorites. I always thought that if I had ever met Jacob, I probably would not have liked him. I certainly would never have trusted him!


But Jacob was the chosen one. We are not chosen because we are good people. Christ said that he came to seek and to save those that were lost. Paul said that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. God has to love sinners and liars and cheaters or he would love none of us at all!


God makes choices. It was written in scripture, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." God chose Jacob and rejected Esau. God is the creator of the universe and the moral judge of the world. He has the right and the authority to choose. It could also be said that Esau chose not to follow God as well, but this is not the point that Paul is making. Paul reasons that God chooses some and, in particular, God has chosen some of the Jewish people to believe in his Son and many others are rejected because they will not believe. Those that believe are the chosen.


All men deserve to be condemned by the righteous judgment of God. We are all Esau. But God chooses some to be redeemed. He makes some to be Jacob. Those that are Jacob are not morally superior or nicer people. They are just chosen. Like the real Jacob, over time and at great effort on Godís part, they become better people as they mature. But, they are never worthy of Godís grace. It is always a gift that he grants to those who do not deserve it.


Do you trust God enough to allow Him to choose who will be saved and who will be lost? Can you accept the judgment of God on His creation?


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