Romans 9:6-11 The main theme of Romans 9 is understanding and coming to grips with God’s sovereignty. Paul lists some proofs that it is not the children that man prefers but rather God. The first proof that not all physical descendants of Abraham are to be ranked as the chosen ones was God’s choice of Isaac over Ishmael. Abraham asked that the choice might rest on Ishmael (Genesis 17:18ff).
Paul gives another example using Rebecca, the wife of Isaac, when she was with child, she was told by God that in her womb there were two children who would be the fathers of two nations; but that in the days to come the elder would serve and be subject to the younger (Genesis 25:23).
So the twins Esau and Jacob were born. Esau was the elder twin, and yet the choice of God fell on Jacob, and it was through the line of Jacob that God’s will was to be done. To clinch the argument Paul cites Malachi 1:2,3, where God is represented as saying to the prophet: “I have loved Jacob but I have hated Esau.” He makes the further point that that selection had nothing to do with deeds and merit.
The proof is that Jacob was chosen and Esau was rejected, before either of them was born. The choice was made while they were still in the womb. This is where the idea of election throws us because it seems to present us a picture of a God who arbitrarily chooses one and rejects the other. It makes God responsible for an action that does not seem to be ethically justified.
God did not choose both sons to continue the physical line of promise but sovereignly elected Jacob and passed over Esau before they were even born. And He chose them without any regard for what they would do in their lives, that God’s purpose might stand with no regard for any human work, so too God has chosen some Jews, not all, for salvation.
Unconditionally, and completely apart from any human merit, God elects those who will become His heirs of promise. Esau was born first and entitled to the rights of the first-born but God purposely disregarded that fact, telling their mother that, contrary to the custom of those days, the older will serve the younger (Genesis 25:23).
Because He is a God of truth and justice, the Lord did not condone Jacob’s and his mother’s deceit of his blind father in order to receive the blessing of the first-born. Yet, as He often does, God used Jacob’s deception to fulfill His own divine purposes—which He would have accomplished perfectly in any case, without sinful human intervention. Jacob’s sin did not abrogate God’s promise in the least degree, but it brought many painful and unnecessary problems to Jacob himself and to many others.
Unlike his twin brother, Jacob sought God and had a heart for God, but he suffered because of his lack of trust in God to accomplish His own purposes in His own holy way and in His own divine time. Paul presenting the doctrine of predestination does so by presenting 4 facts.
The first of which we have considered and that is predestination begins with the sovereign choice of God illustrated with the choices of Isaac and Jacob. A second truth we see is that God’s call of Predestination upholds the perfect character of God Romans 9:14-18.
Because the Lord chose Isaac and Jacob instead of the first born, is He unfair? Romans 9:14 May it never be! Paul then gives two illustrations from the Older Testament that demonstrate God’s mercy and justice. The first concerns Moses, which we see in Romans 9:15. This verse shows that His sovereign choice “does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
God doesn’t consult anyone when He decides. God’s choices are made on His nature and mercy alone. God’s words to Pharaoh serve as a second illustration of God’s mercy and justice in Romans 9:17-18.
Although we make our decisions without complete information and perfect character, God has full knowledge and is perfect in character. Thirdly Predestination identifies the responsibilities of God, we see this in Romans 9:19-23. From what Paul has said so far one might think: If the Lord exercises mercy or judgment on whomever He so chooses, then has no concrete basis to fault mankind for sin. After all if He has predetermined that a man is going to sin, who can resist the Will of God? Paul sees that question coming and answers it in Romans 9:19.
Paul answers the question with an illustration of pottery in Romans 9:20-21. To be clear on this response we need to recall some Biblical truths about sin. After the fall in Gen. 3 the clay that God worked with became completely tainted with sin. It was not God who caused Adam and Eve to sin then, and it is not Him who causes men to sin and disobey Him today, consider James 1:13-15.
Each of us then is responsible for our own wrongdoing. God however has taken the responsibility of molding this tainted clay, in various ways. And as the creator it is His prerogative to do with the clay as He sees fit. Therefore he had the right to choose Isaac instead of Ishmael, and Jacob instead of Esau.
All of these were born sinners and acted as sinners and deserved nothing but judgment anyway. That He would show mercy on any of his clay in the first place is a wonder in itself. All of us are undeserving of God’s grace. But because the Lord is rich in Love and Mercy, He has decided to save those who receive Jesus as their Savior and King, and to shape them into His image. Fourthly predestination defends the consistent plan of God Romans 9:24-33.
God’s consistent plan for redemption has always been that salvation, sanctification, and glorification, would be by grace though faith alone. Those who have tried to earn their salvation have been denied it, and those who have walked by faith have earned it. At the close of Romans 9, Paul explains why most of my kinsmen have not experienced the joy of salvation, because they chose to pursue justification by their actions rather than by faith 30‑32. And so we see that God’s plan has been consistent all along. There are 3 ways we could respond to the teaching on predestination in Romans:
1) we could totally reject it. We could embrace the idea that God does nothing with regard to our salvation and that we do everything.
2) We could take it to an extreme believing that God does everything and we do nothing.
3) We could accept it as it is. Predestination does not negate man’s responsibility, it simply places our role where it should be; under the authority of God. He has determined that we can come to Him only under His terms and that is by faith alone. We have a choice to choose His way or our own. But as He has predetermined there is only one way to eternal life.
Romans 9:25-29 Paul uses two quotations from Hosea and two from Isaiah to show that the prophets foretold Israel’s unbelief and rejection of the Messiah. His first quote comes from Hosea 2:23. The Lord told Hosea, to take to a wife of harlotry, and have children through her; It would be an illustration of Israel’s forsaking the Lord’” (Hosea 1:2).
The Lord commanded the prophet to keep her as his wife, despite her adultery or actually, because of it. Applying the analogy to unfaithful and spiritually adulterous Israel God says, (Hosea 2:14) “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:19) I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. Just as Hosea protected and supported Gomer, during her period of unfaithfulness even by purchasing her as a slave on the open market, so God someday will redeem Israel.
Until that day, God not only will treat Israel as not being His children but will treat Gentiles, who were not His people, as His people Hosea 2:23. Paul was referring to Israel’s rejection of the Messiah Yeshua, which was Israel’s supreme unfaithfulness to God tantamount to spiritual adultery.
Like her rejection of God in the time of Hosea, Israel’s rejection of her Messiah in the time of Paul was also consistent with God’s plan. Israel responded to Jesus exactly as the prophets had predicted hundreds of years earlier. Paul continues to explain that (Romans 9:26) ” and, it will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” (This is a direct quotes from Hosea 1:10). As Hosea did with his wife, after the scattering of God’s people in Hosea’s day, God eventually brought them back.
And after their present scattering, He will again bring them back, not only to their own land but also to their true Lord, as sons. The redemption of Israel will come. But Paul’s emphasis in this passage is not Israel’s ultimate restoration to God but her present separation from God.
Then Paul cites another prophet, a contemporary of Hosea, Isaiah 10:22. The expression ”cries out” that Paul uses of Isaiah carries the sense of crying out with great emotion, as from fear or pain, and was often used of a scream of despair and agony. The prophecy broke the prophet’s heart.
When he uttered that sad truth, he wept for his brethren. Of the vast number of descendants of Abraham through Isaac—a number as great as the sand on the sea—only the remnant, a very small remnant at that, will be saved. Isaiah prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah. Like Hosea, he was given the revelation that God’s people in Judah, just as those in Israel, would be conquered, scattered, and temporarily forsaken by God because of their unbelief.
Paul is saying that as important and depressing as those two scatterings were, they were only previews of Israel’s greater and more tragic rejection of the Messiah, and the subsequent conquest, and scattering of the Jewish people that has followed. Then Quoting from the following verse in Isaiah 10:23, Paul declares, For the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, thoroughly and quickly.
When God used the Babylonians to judge Israel for her unbelief, judgment was fast and sure, and only a few, a remnant of true believers, escaped. So also was it in the destruction of Jerusalem of Palestine in 70 A.D. Paul quotes again from Isaiah 1:9, who foretold of the event.
But the Lord graciously left us posterity, a remnant. The sudden destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Abraham’s time, and of Israel and Judah in 70A.D, illustrate how the Lord will execute His judgment on the earth, thoroughly and quickly, when the time has come. Only God’s mercy spares the remnant.
Romans 9:30-33 – God’s demand for faith on the part of men is in not inconsistent with His sovereignty. By His own sovereign decree, His offer of salvation becomes effective only when it is willingly received by faith. When it comes to salvation, the other side of God’s sovereignty is human responsibility. This seems like a contradiction but it is not because both things are clearly taught in God’s Word, and when one is emphasized to the exclusion of the other, the truth of the Good News is skewered. God will not save a person who does not believe in His Son, and we cannot save ourselves by the act of our own will.
In God’s order, both His provision and our will are required for salvation this is called an antinomy. Like many other truths in Scripture they cannot be fully harmonized by reason, only accepted by faith. When Paul declares that Gentiles receive righteousness by faith he is not implying that Gentiles are saved on a different basis than Jews.
He is simply stating that salvation has always been by faith. What Paul is implying is that the Jewish people did not pursue the righteousness that comes through faith but relied on their birth into the covenant community or on their good works in their efforts to obey God’s law.
But faith has always been what makes a man righteous not what he has done to deserve it (Hebrews 11:4-39). Paul laid this truth down in Romans 4:1-11. The greatest obstacle to salvation is self-righteousness. The person who thinks he is already righteous and pleases God sees no need for salvation. Because the Jewish people thought they had satisfied God by their birth into the covenant or their works they were inclined to think that they did not need to come to God through faith alone.
The result was that Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. God’s righteousness cannot be attained by our own efforts because since we are not perfect, for God’s standard is perfection. The Jewish people stumbled over the stumbling stone as the prophets had foretold Isaiah 28:16. The rock that offended them will, in the future, be the Stone that will break in pieces all the kingdoms of the world (Daniel 2:45).
The simplicity of faith is appalling to the Jewish person and to the intellectual. The only thing that any person, Jew or Gentile, can do to be saved is to believe that he can do nothing to earn salvation and to receive God’s mercy through the work of Messiah this is what Paul was getting at in 1 Corinthians 1:22-23.
But Israel’s unbelief did not surprise the Lord or nullify His plan. God’s plan of faith has always been the same, and His choosing a remnant in Israel for salvation was in perfect harmony with His omniscient awareness that only a few would believe in His Son and be saved. That is the way God knew it would be and planned it to be, and that, of course, is the way it turned out to be.