13/09/15 – Romans 9:22-33 “Israel’s rejection isn’t final; a remnant will be saved”
We continue on from last week which was very heavy going at times, but necessary in order to demonstrate the correct word meaning, context and consistency of the Bible in Romans 9. And as we will see today, the main context is still of the nation of Israel. While certain parts may have some application to individual people (notably of Israel and then of the Church), at no time can the election of the nation of God ever equate in any way to any idea of the election of individuals to salvation. While the nation of Israel was chosen by God to be His special people, it was the combined effort of the individuals within that nation that determined the eventual rejection of Israel’s special nation status. And today with the Church it is still the individuals within the Church who play a part in determining the overall effectiveness of the Church as God’s chosen people today.
As I pointed out, the election of one nation excludes all other nations from being chosen, while the election of individuals cannot exclude the choosing of any number of other individuals. And many individuals within God’s elect nation of Israel would still be lost, as our knowledge of the history of Israel clearly shows. To equate Romans 9 with any idea of the election of individuals to salvation would of necessity also have to accept that most of the elect would not be able to enter heaven! I’m sure the calvinists don’t want to see this truth!
Romans 9:22-24 – 22 [What] if God, willing to shew [his] wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the (“the” not in original) vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the (“the” not in original) vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
A more literal version would be…..(But) What if God, (while) wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured (instead), with much longsuffering, vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, that He might make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory….
God is absolutely righteous in having wrath against anything that offends His holiness. As we saw in Vs 21, God has the right to condemn one piece of clay for destruction while granting mercy to another piece of clay, according to His sovereign will. As we also saw from Jeremiah 18, this spoke of the rejection of Israel as the imperfect vessel (fitted for destruction) in favour of the Church – see further in Romans 11.
And even if it spoke of individuals, Romans 9 still cannot support the notion that God chooses some without their consent to be saved while condemning the rest to hell. (Note that even Calvin taught double predestination: that in electing some to salvation, God also actively elected the rest to hell, all by the kind intentions of His good will!)
Israel had been chosen to be God’s priesthood to the nations….
Exodus 19:3-6 – 3 And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and [how] I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Israel was formed for this purpose, but it resisted God’s will for it; however, who can genuinely resist God’s will? (Romans 9:19) So the Potter remoulded the clay into another “nation” (or made another vessel from that same lump of clay), the Church, to serve Him as His priesthood to the nations…..
1 Peter 2:4-10 – 4 To whom coming, [as unto] a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe [he is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, [even to them] which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
This speaks of Israel’s rejection of God’s purpose for them as a nation, and their consequent replacement by the new chosen (elect) generation, that is, the Church!
So, what if God, in spite of desiring (as was His right) to reveal His anger and power at Israel for its disobedience, instead endured with much patience those whom He called His people, Israel, who were being led to destruction by their own selfish desires. And in the end He takes that piece of clay, or another piece from the same lump, and makes a new vessel that will take on the desired purposes for the previous vessel which had now been rejected. This new vessel, the Church, is prepared beforehand for glory, having been washed, cleansed, sanctified (Ephesians 5:26-27 – 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.) such that those who belong to this new nation, the Church, are enabled by the Holy Spirit beforehand to achieve glory. (And ultimately, Christ, as the firstborn from the dead, the Head of the Church, was the preparation beforehand for His glory and the glory of His redeemed.) This new nation, the Church, would be of the Gentiles, but would also have Jews among them.
If any calvinistic-minded person should argue that this proves the calling of God of the election to salvation of the Church, forget it! That there is an election of the saved is not in doubt; only the means by which they are elect (or chosen) is to be questioned. Instead of being unconditional, election is, in fact, by the foreknowledge of God (1 Peter 1:2a – Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father), something the calvinists haven’t been able to disprove, and never will. However, the context of this passage primarily concerns the choice of God’s people (nation) to carry His message of salvation to the world, rather than individuals.
Then Paul gets back to reinforcing the overall context of this chapter, that of Israel being God’s special people.
Romans 9:25-26 – 25 As he saith also in Osee (Hosea), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.
As he saith also – Paul uses Old Testament quotes here to support what he has just said in Vs 22-23.
Vs 25 is quoted from….Hosea 2:23 – And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to [them which were] not my people, Thou [art] my people; and they shall say, [Thou art] my God.
…and Vs 26….Hosea 1:10-11; 2:1 – 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people, [there] it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great [shall be] the day of Jezreel.
1 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi (My people); and to your sisters, Ru–hamah (mercy or compassion).
Vs 25 appears to mean the Church taking the place of Israel, and 1 Peter does seem to support this. Peter declares the Church as those Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God. This interpretation is reasonable. But the context of Hosea is of Israel being chosen, then falling into apostasy, then being rejected, yet in the end a remnant is brought back as per Hosea 2:23. (The calvinists, who teach that the Church has taken on all the promises of Israel, even end-times prophecies, would interpret “Israel” in Hosea as symbolizing the Church.)
Thus, here in Romans 9, it appears to mean Israel being rejected, yet finally, in the future, being accepted once more as God’s people – see Romans 11:25-27. Vs 24 above says Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles, which clearly names both groups of God’s people, Israel and the Church. Vs 27-29 below, though, do appear to emphasise the role of Israel in this, that Israel were once God’s people and He was their God, then now they aren’t God’s people and God is not their God, yet one day they will once again be God’s people and He will be their God. Ezekiel 37 talks of a time when the house of Israel will rise up from their dead bones and become a people once again.
Ezekiel 37:27 – My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Originally, God chose a nation (Abraham) from people who were not His people and covenanted with Abraham to make a great nation of him. The context of this passage today is that Israel is rejected because of its sin, yet God, instead of destroying them as was His right, was patient (merciful) with them and will one day redeem a remnant who will then be the people that they were originally called to be – a priesthood to the nations.
Israel, after being chosen by God, went seeking after the gods of the other nations, and finally God acted. Israel was punished and sent into slavery in Babylon. Even after Babylon they came back and continued in apostasy (see Zechariah, Malachi etc). Then finally, as a nation, they rejected their Messiah, after which they were rejected as God’s chosen nation (that’s what we’re discussing in Romans 9). Even so, they, who were rejected as God’s people, will one day be reclaimed by God.
The context of Vs 26 is likely to mean the diaspora (the great dispersion of Israel for 2,000 years), rejected from their land and the priesthood of God. They are not the children of God during this time – the Church has taken their place on the olive tree of Romans 11 – but one day, when the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled, Israel shall be saved.
Romans 11:25-27 – 25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Note also the following which occurs around the beginning of the last 7 years…
Ezekiel 37:21-23 – 21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.
Romans 9:27-28 – 27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: 28 For he will finish the work, and cut [it] short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.
Isaiah 10:20-23 – 20 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 The remnant shall return, [even] the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. 22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, [yet] a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. 23 For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.
This reinforces Vs 25 & 26, that one day a remnant of Israel, though rejected from being God’s people for so long among the other nations, will return to God. Their destruction will become righteousness instead. And the end of Israel’s trials and sufferings will come to an end shortly after (at the end of the 7 year tribulation). Israel today appears to be numerous, spread out over the world, but a remnant only will be saved. God will complete His work with Israel, and finally they will take their place as a nation of priests to God for the nations during the millennium.
Joel 2:31-32 – 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. 32 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
cut it short in righteousness – Note Mark 13:20 – And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.
Note also that the elect here refers to the chosen nation of Israel (see its context!), not to the election to salvation of individuals, that is, the Church.
Romans 9:29 – And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.
Lord of Sabaoth – literally Lord of hosts (Lord of sabaoth = Lord of the armies of Israel, as those who are under the leadership and protection of Jehovah maintain his cause in war) (“Lord of hosts” = Lord of tsaba = the Lord of armies, soldiers, military hosts) A statement of the absolute authority of God.
Isaiah 1:7-9 – 7 Your country [is] desolate, your cities [are] burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and [it is] desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city. 9 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, [and] we should have been like unto Gomorrah.
Israel is here the southern nation of Judah. In Isaiah’s days, Judah is so devastated that unless God acted to stop the destruction, Judah would become as extinct as Sodom and Gomorrah. Paul appears to be using this example to demonstrate the devastation of the Jewish nation in its rejection from his days until today. Again we are reminded of Mark 13:20 – And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.….clearly a reference to the great tribulation.
Romans 9:30-31 – 30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. 31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
righteousness – dikaiosune = righteousness – compare with dikaiosis = justification.
Paul questions all this – “What shall we say then? What can possibly be our explanation of this? How can the unrighteous Gentiles be made the righteous ones according to their faith? (Note Romans 4:5 – But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.) How can Israel, who was given the law of righteousness, not also be found acceptable according to that same law of righteousness? Israel had pursued the law with vigour – dioko = to pursue in a hostile or vigorous manner.
Barnes – The word "followed" here often denotes to pursue with intense energy, as a hunter pursues his game, or a man pursues a flying enemy. The Jews had sought righteousness in that way; the Gentiles had not.
Israel had made an art of obedience to the law, such that the law itself had become their salvation! The gentiles, while unrighteous, had made no pretense of being righteous.
Matthew 23:27-28 – 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Barnes – The phrase, “the law of righteousness,” means the law of justice, or the just law. That law demands perfect purity; and even its external observance demanded holiness. The Jews supposed that they rendered such obedience to that law as to constitute a meritorious ground of justification. This they had followed after; that is, pursued zealously and unremittingly. The reason why they did not obtain justification in that way is fully stated in chapters 1-3., where it is shown that the law demands perfect compliance with its precepts; and that Jews, as well as Gentiles, had altogether failed in rendering such compliance.
Israel should have been the righteous nation, yet were rejected for their unrighteousness, while the Gentiles should have been the unrighteous ones to whom Israel was God’s chosen priesthood, yet the Gentiles were chosen to be righteous! However, despite Israel’s rejection (becoming a non-people of God), one day they will be returned to being God’s people, when the fulness of the Gentiles is come in (Romans 10:25).
Romans 9:32-33 – 32 Wherefore? Because [they sought it] not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Why was Israel, who followed the law with all vigour, declared unrighteous, while the Gentiles, who lacked the same vigour when pursuing the law, declared righteous?
Because Israel didn’t seek righteousness by faith, but by works –
see Romans 4:4-5 – 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
And because Israel sought righteousness by works, they had insufficient works and were found to be in debt, which could not be accounted for righteousness. They stumbled, having rejected the means by which they might be accounted as righteous, that is, faith in God’s provision of salvation from the curse of the law. They rejected and crucified their Messiah, the One in whom they were required to have faith. And Paul here demonstrates from the Old Testament prophets that they had been warned of this. God had withheld their justification (righteousness) and had now rejected them as His people.
Jesus their Messiah had become their stumbling block, an offense against their extreme efforts to be obedient to the law. The quotes are from…..
Isaiah 8:13-15 – 13 Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread. 14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
And Isaiah 28:16-17 – 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner [stone], a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17 Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.
Peter says the same in 1 Peter 2:4-10 – 4 To whom coming, [as unto] a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, [and] precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe [he is] precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, [even to them] which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Note carefully, though, that Israel’s rejection will end when the times of the gentiles are fulfilled – see Romans 11:25-27 above.