Israel and Election
We have travelled together through the three great divisions of Romans. We enter the fourth in these chapters and we find ourselves in
The School Room
The lesson we are to study together is The Sovereignty of God. We are to learn of the marvelous ways in which God works to His glory in the fulfilling of His divine counsels. Three wonderful chapters tell the story. We notice that God’s earthly people Israel have a very special place in all these purposes and plans. In Chap. 9 we see Israel in the light of her past glory. In Chap. 10 we see Israel during the present dispensation of grace. In Chap. 11 we see Israel in the light of her glorious Future.
As we enter the school, first of all we listen to Lamentation, Chap. 9:1-5, and our hearts are touched by the sight of Israel’s ruin. Then we listen to a Discussion in vs. 6-33 where the great question of election is raised and considered. In Chap. 10 we receive Instruction. The light of the gospel shines in that chapter. In Chap. 11:1-32 we have Prophecy. The future is unveiled to us and all God’s plans unfolded as we gaze and wonder. Then in vs. 32-36 we close with a Doxology.
Do we think it strange that the apostle should begin this section with
A Lamentation? Chap. 9:1-5
He is thinking of his beloved people Israel away from God. No nation was so favored as Israel. What a list of privileges and honors we have in these verses. As all their former glories pass before Paul’s vision he weeps. With all their advantages they were rejectors of Him whom Paul loved most and best, the Lord Jesus Christ, He was Israel’s true glory, God over all blessed forever. How could they refuse Him, Paul groans at the thought of it. But of one thing he is sure, God’s purposes have not failed. He tells us more about this in the second part of the chapter.
The Discussion, vs. 6-33
The knotty problem of Election is taken up. We are not going to try to unlock the closed door of God’s eternal choice. There are mysteries there that none can unravel. But there are some very simple and precious truths here for our learning. Paul lets us know that all the unbelief and failure of Israel can in no wise change the purpose of God, and, but for the sovereign mercy of God no one would be saved. Think of the river Nile—but for its flow all the land of Egypt would be like the great Sahara desert. No one knew where the river came from but they did know that wherever it flowed it brought blessing. But for the election of God, Israel would never be saved, the whole nation would be just like Sodom and Gomorrah, all under the judgment of God without a green spot anywhere, vs. 29.
Ishmael (vs 7); Esau (vs. 13); Pharaoh (vs. 17,), and unbelieving Israel (vs. 31) were like the desert. When God leaves a man to his own choice he just fits himself as a vessel of wrath for destruction (vs 22). It is God Who prepares the vessels of mercy for glory. The river of His grace flows through the desert of man’s unbelief and wherever it flows it brings salvation. Those who never drink of its life giving stream can never charge God with injustice (vs. 14) for their sins deserve eternal death.
Our chapter closes with a lovely picture of the Lord Jesus as the Rock of Ages. In Him the believing sinner finds refuge and rest. Israel stumbled over Him and fell. They would not trust Him, they rejected their Saviour, but Whosoever—what a grand word that is, it takes us all in—whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.
1. What is the great lesson of the 4th division of Romans?
2. What does a man do when God leaves him to his own choice?
3. Give five examples.