Searching the Scriptures
“Search the Scriptures…They are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39
Author: Bob Moses
Commentary on Romans
The first three verses of this chapter express the heart-felt anguish Paul has for his brethren, the nation of Israel. He sorrows over those Israelites who shall never be saved. Let us read of his despair. “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my bretheren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Rom: 9; 1—3. Paul goes so far as to say that he would be willing to be accursed (separated) from Christ on their behalf. He then goes on to identify these kinsmen and the seven-fold privilege granted by God Himself to the Jewish nation in verses 4 and 5.
Regarding the Nation… Verses 4 & 5: “Who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the adoption (1), and the glory(2), and the covenants(3), and the giving of the law(4), and the service of God(5), and the promises(6); whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came(7), who is over all, God blessed forever,. Amen.” Let us delve a bit further and add substance to these seven privileges given Israel: Privileges 1 & 2: The Adoption and Glory; (Deuteronomy 14: 1 & 2) “Ye are the children of the Lord your God: …For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” Privilege 3: The Covenants: A covenant is an agreement between one man and another, basically a contract. Man can not technically make a covenant with God because man cannot bring anything to the table to equal or satisfy God. However, God can make a covenant with man should he condescend to do so. And he has done so on certain occasions. He made a covenant with Noah that He would not furthermore judge men in the form of a flood and that He would put a rainbow in the sky as a token thereof and that the recurrence of the seasons and of day and night should not cease (Gen. 9; Jeremiah. 33: 20). He made several covenants with Abraham (Gen. 12: 1-3) “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee; And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing; And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Also see (Gen. 15) (Gen. 17). Privileges: vs 4 & 5: The Giving of the Law and the Service of God: One needs only to read the Book of Exodus, as a matter of fact you probably do not even need to read, you are commonly aware that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai; and not the “Law” only, but the instructions of the rites and ceremonies to be performed in the “Service of God” by the Children of Israel. Privilege 6: The Promises: Galatians 3: 16: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made”. Vs. 18: “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” What was it that God promised to Abraham and the Children of Israel? Vs. 22: “…the scripture hath concluded all under sin; that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Privilege 7: Rom; 9, 5; “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came.”
Thus we see Paul having great heaviness of heart because He knows that only those Jews who believe in Jesus shall be saved. Most of the Nation will rely upon their heritage as being of the seed of Abraham, which of itself, is non-effective regarding salvation. Paul would that the whole of Israel would be saved, yet acknowledges in Romans 9; verses 6—8: “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel,( the nation of Israel); which are of Israel: (those chosen: ie, “which are of Israel”.) Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Let me go back to ground already covered in my comments of Romans Chapter 2; to drive home my point. Rom. 2:28 & 29; “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”.
You cannot help but observe a common thread being woven throughout this Book of Romans. That thread, being a distinguished separation between the flesh and the Spirit. Flesh cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, the Spirit can. Even the spirit of man must undergo a transformation to enable one to enter heaven. That transformation comes from believing in Jesus the Christ, as the Son of God. That He died on the Cross for our transgressions, and that He arose from the dead in defeat of Satan, sin, and even death itself. This holds true for both Jew and Gentile. The Jew of old “believed” (or had faith in) God, and it was counted unto them for righteousness, even some Gentiles of old had the same experience. The new or current Jew and Gentile must also exercise the same faith and belief in Jesus. The thread continues to follow the needle of faith, through the fabric of our lives upon this earth. It is up to each of us individually to accept or reject the piercing of the flesh for the healing of the Spirit.
We have had Abraham and Isaac (his son) before us in the above. It is expedient that we acknowledge a divine prerogative before we can possibly understand the rest of this chapter. This prerogative is the sovereignty of God. God elects or chooses who He will; this shall come out more, when we get to verse 21. For now, let us take note that God chose Abraham, to be the father of the Nation of Israel, and it is in his seed that the world shall be blessed (in the flesh). Yet it is in Isaac, that the spiritual man shall be blessed, (to make man Holy). The seven-fold privileges granted by God to Israel were: Adoption, Glory, Covenants, Giving of the Law, The Services toward God, The Promise of God to Abraham regarding Isaac. All of the six were in regard to the flesh, as six is the number of man. It is not until the seventh privilege ie: the one in which Christ came, does the spiritual become manifest. Seven, is the number of perfection, and in Jesus all became perfect, as a way for man to become a member of the family of God.
There is also another picture or shadow here in Abraham and Isaac. Abraham represents God the Father, and Isaac represents the son, Jesus. It is the Father who bestowed life (physical) upon the multitudes of mankind, through Adam. It is the Son, Jesus, to which the promise was made to save a heavenly people for the Kingdom of God.
Moving through the rest of this Chapter 9 we shall observe the Sovereignty of God and witness His Election. Verse 9; “For this is the word of promise, at this time (God’s own good time) will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.” One may ask, what is so significant about Sarah having a son? Remember Sarah was over ninety years old when she conceived Isaac, and Abraham was near 100 years of age. Therefore we see that Isaac was indeed a son of promise. God said he would perform it and he did, which also ties in the phrase above, at this time, meaning when God decreed it to be so.
Verse 10—13; “And not only this; but when Rebecca (Isaac’s wife) also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children (twin boys) being not yet born, (remember Rebecca had twin boys, Esau came out of the womb first with Jacob clasping his ankle as he (Jacob) came out second. Read my “Study”on the “Second Son”. neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, the elder (Esau) shall serve the younger (Jacob). As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” What are we to make of this? Simply what the Scriptures say; “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth”. In other words, God calls who he wants, when he wants. This is pure sovereignty manifested right before our very eyes.
A person might exclaim; “Now hold on here just a minute”! In the verse just quoted; it was written; “For the children (the two twin boys, Esau and Jacob) being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, it was said unto her (Rebecca), the elder (Esau) shall serve the younger (Jacob); As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” “This just doesn’t seem fair. God chose Jacob over Esau and the boys had not even been born yet. They had not even had a chance to show who would do good or who would do evil. How could God say; Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated?” The answer is very simple. God foreknew who would serve him and who would not. Jeremiah 1, 5: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee”. God knew Esau would sell his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup. Esau’s allegiance to God, and his lawful birthright meant nothing to him, when he had an empty stomach. It was only after his appetite was appeased, that he realized what he had done, and then he turned against both God and Jacob and Jacob had to flee the country to save his life from the wrath of Esau. God knew this years before it came to pass, and thus the statement; “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”. Esau had no regard for God, therefore God had no regard for Esau.
Verse, 14—18; “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God that showeth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth”. Yet another truth is revealed here. God has always been and shall always remain, on his throne. God removes any doubt here that he raised up Pharaoh to show forth God’s power. The plagues upon Egypt were a direct demonstration not only of the power of God, but also the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh to resist Gods overwhelming influence. God forever rules, this holds true not only for Moses and the children of Israel, but also for all of God’s elect. Christ says; “I will never leave you or forsake you” Heb. 13: 5. Further, as written by David: Psalm 37: 25 “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread”.
I wish to include verse 18, from our previous discussion, to make a point regarding the scriptures from verses 18—20. “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, why doeth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?” Paul offers a hypothetical question assuming that someone will say; if God chooses to have mercy upon whom he selects and yet hardens others; why does he find fault in me? If, indeed he is in charge, who can resist his will; if that be the case? Paul answers: vs. 20 “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus?” In other words, Paul states; who are you to question God?
This is made clearer in verse 21. “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” Further reference Jeremiah 18: 1—6; “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred (this is a picture of Adam and the fallen man of the flesh), in the hand of the potter; so he made it again (the new man of the spirit) another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? Saith the Lord; Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand…” Surely you can see in this analogy that God is the potter. He is the one who formed man back there in the Garden of Eden, out of the dust of the earth (clay). His first human being was marred (Adam allowed sin to enter unto himself), and therefore God made a better man, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. How did he accomplish this? Recall it was the Holy Ghost who came upon the Virgin Mary to conceive the son of God. Thus God made another vessel, the Godly, or Spiritual man, Jesus. Isaiah 64: 8 “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Paul is merely reiterating and emphasizing Old Testament Scriptures and asserting that God is in control of his Kingdom and exercises his will, as a sovereign God, to do with as he sees fit. Therefore who are we to question the very one who made us?
There is another analogy I like to make in this regard. Let’s say a farmer has several hundred chickens. He makes his living by selling the eggs that the chickens lay each day. He uses some chickens to lay eggs in order to hatch new chicks for the future and some, he uses to lay eggs, to sell at the market. Usually after a year or so, the producing chickens quit laying eggs. When this happens, the farmer calls up the Campbell Soup Company and sells these non-productive chickens to the soup company to make chicken noodle soup. Now is there anything wrong with this picture? A slim few would belabor the fact that the farmer sold these poor unproductive chickens. From the farmer’s point of view, why would he continue to feed unproductive chickens good feed, that could be going to chickens which would otherwise be making him money. The majority of people would think that only makes sense, after all they are his chickens. He has the right to determine what to do with his chickens. In plain words, does not God have the right to do with his creation whatever he pleases? We are his chickens… Does not the potter have power over the clay???
Verse’s 22—24; “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory. Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” Basically, Paul is stating that God was willing to endure the marred man (the vessels of clay) in order to show forth His benevolent grace upon his children (the redeemed of Christ) “And that he might make known the riches of his glory (through Jesus Christ) on the vessels of mercy (us) which he had afore prepared unto glory.” Vs. 24; “Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” Vs. 25—26; “As he saith also in Osee (the book of Hosea), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved; 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.” Paul is drawing a distinction between Jew and Gentile. Ye are not my people (Gentiles), there shall they be called the children of the living God, (through Jesus Christ who came to save unto himself a Gentile Bride, ie the Church). God is saying that the Jew was his chosen people, but as they became lax and further separated themselves from God, He saved a remnant unto himself, not only of the Jew, but also of the Gentiles. The Gentiles were the people who were not his people, but through Christ they became the children of God, because of their belief in Jesus, his own son. It was their faith, which made them worthy of God’s Kingdom, such as was the faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Daniel, etcetera.; the chosen ones of the Old Testament. Same holds forth in the New; it is our faith which binds us to Christ. Ephesians 2: 8 & 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Vs. 27—29: Esaias (Isaiah) also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth and as Esaias (Isaiah) said before , Except theLord of Sabaoth (the Lord of Hosts) had left us a seed, we had been a Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.” Esaias, (the Book of Isaiah). Let us read, Isaiah. 1, 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”. One of the most interesting notables in these verses, to my mind, is the phrase “For he will finish the work; and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth”. What is meant by cutting the work short in righteousness and of a short work will the Lord make upon the earth? Christ said from the Cross; “It is finished”. What was finished? His work!! What was this work? Jesus Christ fulfilling the Scriptures by giving Himself as a sacrifice for us. How long did this work take? He died at the age of 33 years. And His work was accomplished in “righteousness”. Further, “and of a short work will the Lord make upon the earth”. God’s work upon this earth will encompass roughly 6000 earth years. 6000 years is a very short work when compared to eternity. So you say; where did we come up with 6000 years. Consider the six days of the restoration of the earth; then consider that each day represents 1000 years. Without going into a lengthy exposition; this is substantiated within the Holy Canon. I will offer one verse to prove the validity of my posture; “11 Peter 3, 8: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. I therefore beseech you to seek and discover this truth, regarding the short work of God upon this earth, for yourself and your own enlightenment.
Verses 30 & 31, “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness”. Paul is making the point that the Gentiles, who did not follow after righteousness by the law, have indeed obtained righteousness through faith. Whereas the Jew (Israel) following the law, by the letter, but not by faith, fell short of obtaining spiritual righteousness. Israel considered the letter of the law to lead them, rather than the rule of faith. By the law we are all damned, for none can fulfill the total demands of the law. It is by the law that we begin to know what sin is. Only by faith can we find salvation. The Jew always looks for a sign. The disciple Thomas stated that unless he saw the nail prints in the hands of Jesus and saw the His pierced side, he would not believe that Christ had arisen from the tomb. When Jesus later appeared in the upper room, He said to Thomas; “Because you have seen, you believe; blessed are they who have not seen, yet believe”. Why, one might ask. Because we believe by faith, and it is by our faith that righteousness is imparted to us. Not by signs and wonders, nor of works, in our attempt to fulfill the law, these will lead us straight to the gates of Hell, be us Jew or Gentile. Ephesians 2: 8 & 9; “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast”.
Paul then referring back to the previous verse says, Vs. 32: “Wherefore?” In other, words; “Why”? “Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Vs; 32 & 33. Paul is explaining his statement from verse 31; “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness hath not attained to the law of righteousness”. Why? Because they (Israel) sought it not by faith. But as it were by the works of the law. For they (Israel) stumbled at that stumblingstone. What or who is this stumblingstone? Jesus Christ, of course. Vs. 33 “As it is written, Behold, I law in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him (Jesus) shall not be ashamed.” My friends and dear ones in Christ, could anything be more clear? Yeah, but where did you get this stumblingstone and rock of offence stuff? 1 Corinthians, 1; 23: “But we preach Christ crucified unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks (Gentiles) foolishness”. Also; 1 Peter, 2; 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.” Paul is emphasizing that God laid down before Israel a stumblingblock and rock of offence, which was Jesus Christ. That they (Israel) would literally stumble over this rock, because they refused to believe He was indeed the Son of God. They were seeking a warrior, someone to lead them to the destruction of Rome. However God provided for them a Lamb, to be the sacrifice for their sin which was what the law demanded. They refused to accept the higher and spiritual place of atonement and righteousness. They wanted a conquering King, which God provided, but they recognized Him not, because He was not given on their terms. They wanted an earthly King, God gave them a Spiritual King to rule the universe. They indeed fell over their own stumblingblock. This then was the major difference between the Old Testament Saints and the New Testament Saints. The Old were looking forward to a Crown, we are looking back to a Cross. They wanted a King and received a Lamb. We discovered the Lamb and acknowledge Him as our King. All of Scripture pivots upon this one Man, Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. Amen!
May God Bless you and yours!!
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