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Romans - Chapter 9 - A Prelude


Darlene

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Heavenly Father,

 

The past few days have had a 'pregnancy' feel to them. It's as if I sense that something is about to be birthed. It's something spiritual and holy, destined for eternal purposes.

 

Sounds crazy, I know, but Your Spirit keeps pressing me with thoughts along those lines so I wait, upon my Heavenly Father because I love You so very, very much.

 

I was cooresponding with a friend through email yesterday and has made this comment:

 

"On a personal level, I have aspects that are traditional and conservative, and other aspects that are edgy and daring and throw caution to the wind. I've never been able to be 'pegged' lol."

 

That is a VERY trust statement I made Father, and their response was this:

 

"In your last email you really raised my curiosity...I really look forward to you expanding on that one!"

 

That statement bothered me when I read it because there was some obvious misunderstanding on their part. While it's true that I still possess aspects that are edgy and daring, and I can still throw caution to the wind...it just not the same root, the same purpose, the same behavior.

 

As I was driving home from taking Madison to school, I was thinking and praying about this, when suddenly the answer hit me. It won't be the answer that they think it will be, nor the one they are looking for, but it's the truth...

 

You reminded me of the time, about a year or so ago, when You were pressing me to lay something down that held great value to me. It was something that I'd had through my darkest days alone, and for the most part, and for a long time, it was the only ray of sunshine I felt I had back then.

 

As You began to press me to lay it down, I began resisting. The more You pressed, the harder I hung on until it felt like I was cornered and my back was up against the wall. I was sobbing and crushed and felt so incredibly hurt that You were pressing me to let go, and finally, through a torrent of tears, I cried out to You, my Heavenly Father: "You know how I am when I'm backed into the corner with my back against the wall...YOU know that it's an insidious quirk in my nature that defiance rules the day when someone tries to make me do something..."

 

I was crying as my truth spilled out through those tears. I wasn't proud of that truth...in fact, I felt a little hopeless because that was my survival streak, and to let go of that was way too scary for me.

 

And then, You spoke to my heart, with much calm, gentleness, truth and love and said, "I'm not making you do anything. I am asking you to make a decision. Do you want the world, or do you want Me?"

 

Oh Father, as I write the above and remember that moment, I am filled once again with awe. Because when You spoke that to my heart, I felt the fight, the struggle, the defiance, drain out of me. As the enormity of what You said, permeated my heart and my mind, and I realized You weren't forcing me to anything, I simply felt empty.

 

And then, the tenderness and sweetness of what You had said gripped my heart and I'll never forget standing there sobbing, yet knowing, my answer back to You..."This is killing me, this hurts so bad, but I know this is my moment in time where I stand at my own, personal crossroads, and I choose You. I can't bear the thought of being so blatently presented with this choice, and rejecting You."

 

Peace, peace, peace...holy, tender, powerful, incomprehensible peace filled my heart. It was still breaking, I didn't know how I was going to accomplish it, but I had Your peace.

 

So Father, as I was driving and thinking about that question my friend had asked me, and I began to reflect on that personal, lifechanging encounter with You, I knew the answer to their question, and it made me laugh because it is not the answer they're probably looking for...

 

The biggest risk I've ever taken in my life...the one that was the hardest, the one that I knew would require me giving up control, the one that required me to totally let go and trust with a trust I didn't have, was to believe You are Who You say You are.

 

I hear so many people say, "I believe in God...I believe in Jesus, I believe in His Spirit". Well, I believe in George Washington, Abe Lincoln, et all. I believe they lived, I believe what it says in the history books. But believing isn't all it's all about. It's about a relationship. I can never have a relationship with Washington or Lincoln, but I do have a relationship with You.

 

To step out in faith and believe with eyes that haven't seen, or ears that haven't audibly heard, is not an easy thing to do, when we're pressed to that wall. You're unseen in many ways, until You begin to open our spiritual eyes, but oh Lord, when we're blind, it's so incredibly hard to trust. But You are able to access something unseen in us too...giving back that which You ask from us. You are the only one who can reach and touch our hearts and more importantly, our souls.

 

Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me.

 

((((((Heavenly Father))))))

 

In Jesus Name, and through Him alone, I pray,

 

 

Chapter 9

 

The rvbv writes, "Paul's Great Sorrow for Unbelieving Israel - Unbelieving Despite and Eight-Fold Preeminence. Verse 1 to 5.

 

The Real Israel, however, were an Elect, not a Natural Seed: God's Sovereignty in Election Defended. Verses 6 to 29.

 

The Astonishing Conclusion! The Gentiles, not Following after Righteousness, Atain to it by Simple Faith; Israel, Following after a Law-Method, Stumble at the By-Faith Way, at Christ! Verses 30 to 33.

 

In Romans Nine, Ten, and Eleven, Paul turns aside from that glorious exposition of Grace, in the first eight chapters, to the explanation of God's present dealing with Israel. God had committed Himself to bless this nation; and lo, now it is nationally set aside, while Paul's message goes out to all nations without distinction between Jew and Greek! Where, then, is the Divine faithfulness? How reconcile God's former condition of blessing, through circumcision, the Law with its observances, the temple with its presence of Jehovah in the Holy of Holies, and the separateness of the elect nation, Israel, from all others: - how reconcile all this with such a by faith "no difference" message as Paul has been preaching to us - in the first eight chapters? A message, indeed, which he resumes from Chapter Twelve to the close, magnifying God's present mercy to the Gentiles; and ending up the Epistle as he began it, with the words: "My gospel (revealing a heretofore hidden secret), is sent forth unto all the nations unto the simple obedience of faith"!

 

The question, therefore, is, how to reconcile the "no distinciton between Jew and Greek" message that Paul is here preaching, with God's former manner of speech to Israel, concerning which the Psalmist sings:

 

"He showeth His word unto Jacob,

His statutes and His ordinances unto Israel.

He hath not dealt so with any nation;

And as for His ordinances, they have not known them" (Ps. 147:19,20).

 

And not only so, but the whole book of Psalms, for that matter; yes, and the prophets also!

 

Now it will not do merely to go back to Israel's idolatrous history, and denounce the nation; or even to our Lord's awful utterance, as He finally left their temple:

 

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her own brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate" (Luke 13:34,35).

 

It will not do to say they were a disobedient people, and God has rejected them entirely, and has brought blessing out to the Gentiles instead. Nor will it do, in these three chapters, merely to go forward to Ephesians (2:14-16) and say, "Christ is our peace, who hath made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity [between them], even the Law of commandments in ordinances; that He might create in Himself of the two One New Man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in One Body unto God through the cross." Furthermore, it will not do to go on into Colossians and say concerning this new man, the Body of Christ, that "there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11). All these things are true for us who are in Christ. But it is the facts as they are set forth in Romans, that we must examine, if we are to study Romans. And God, here in Romans, sets forth His ways in the past, and His ways in the future, with this chosen earthly nation, Israel.

 

That God should so signally honor this nation Israel as to reveal His awful presence on Sinai, and speak in an audible voice to them, giving to them and them alone His holy "fiery Law," - this fact must have its true place with us.

 

"For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever a peaople hear the voice of God speaking out in the midst of the fire, as thou has heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that Jehovah your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?" (Deut. 4:32-34.)

 

I say, for God to do all this, and then publicly set this nation aside, and send a Paul to all nations without distinction of Jew or Gentile, preaching salvation apart from the Law, and by simple faith, instead of by "the Jews' religion"; promising blessings, and that even heavenly blessings, inconceivably beyond those promised to Israel, - this was an astounding thing! The trouble with us Gentiles is, that we have become accustomed to it, we take it for granted. God's plans and ways with Israel do not concern most Christians.

 

There is no more striking example of the deadly and deadening self-confidence into which human beings so quickly drift when they find themselves objects of Divine goodness: "Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish" (Ps. 49:20).

 

One has only to look about Christendom to see at once the evidence of this fateful delusion. Behold the "state" churches, the great cathedrals, the vested choirs and magnificient music; and the "church calendars" with their man-invented feast days, "holy" days, "Christmas-tides," "Lenten" periods, "Easter" services, - all that goes to make up the so-called Christian religion"! And the high talk of the Gentiles about Israel as God's "ancient people": whereas God has never had and never will have any people, any elect nation, but earthly Israel!

 

When we reflect that, after He has "caught up in the clouds" His Church saints, our Lord is coming back to this earthly people Israel, and will establish them in their land, with a glorious millennial temple and order of worship, to which the Gentile nations must and will submit: then we see that the present time is altogether anomalous! It is a parenthesis, in which God is making a "visit" to the Gentiles, to "take out of them a people for His name"; - after which, James tells us, our Lord "will Himself return," and "build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen" (Acts 15:16), on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, where David lived.

 

Romans Nine, Ten and Eleven become an essential part of Christian doctrine in this respect: that while they do not set forth our salvation or our place in Christ, as do the first eight chapters, yet they unfold to us our relative place in God's plans, along with national Israel's place. They also reveal to us several matters absolutely essential to our proper estimate of God and His ways; and, properly believed, they "hide pride" from us: bringing in as they do the great fact that both ourselves and (in the future), the saved Remnant of Israel, are the objects of sovereign Divine mercy. We discover ourselves in Chapter 9:23 to be "vessels of mercy," as will future Israel discover themselves to be, by the example of the mercy shown to us. The grace of God has been spoken of in this Epistle often before; but not until these chapters is mercy named; and until mercy is understood, grace cannot be fully appreciated.

 

In Luke 1:78 (margin) we read of the "heart of mercy" of our God; and in Ephesians 2:4, that God is "rich in mercy." God proclaimed His name to Moses: "Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth" (Ex. 34:6). God's mercy is the sovereign going forth of His heart to us sinful wretched creatures; His grace follows, in His pardoning our guilt; and His loving kindness is His proceeding with us in abundant goodness thereafter."

 

 

Heavenly Father,

 

So often, after doing one of these studies, I just feel unusually quiet...like what is there to say at this moment?

 

Your Word says it all, in such fullness and depth that it's indescribable.

 

May Your perfect will unfold in each of our lives this day. May my heart raise up to Your throne, filled with the overflowing love I have for You...and may that touch Your heart, because You sure have touched mine...permanently, forever.

 

In Jesus Name I pray,

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