Summary: Humans by nature feel a sense of entitlement, that by our very existence we are owed something - and that includes by God. Romans 9 is controversial in that it totally blows the entitlement mentality out of the water, but also surprising when we learn of
The word “entitlement” has become a part of the public discourse in America these days. Some people suggest that the United States is becoming a society of entitlement, where everything we need or want is owed to us. When we don’t get what we want we feel we have been treated unfairly. It’s a natural human trait, actually. It even seeps into our spiritual lives as well as our material.
One of the hardest things for us to reconcile is the fact that God makes choices—that some will get to heaven and some won’t. We naturally think that this is unfair—that we are good people inside and God is big enough to just overlook our little weaknesses and give us eternal life anyway. We underestimate the purity of God and the impurity of man and how the two are irreconcilable outside of Jesus.
Romans 9 – 11 deals with this subject, especially when it comes to reconciling the fact that some Jews are a part of God’s family and some are not.
Paul has just come from sharing one of the most affirming things possible – that we have an unbreakable connection to a loving Father through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It seems that wonderful gift leads him to mourn for those who stubbornly refuse it.
1 – 3
Paul was born a Jew. He loved the Jews. He took the gospel to the Jews. But despite years of work, most of the Jews rejected what he had to say. Paul feels this so deeply that he “could wish” to become a curse himself if it meant his people would come to Christ. Was this not the exact same love that Jesus had for us? (2 Cor 5:21). Of course, it would be impossible for God to curse Paul because Jesus had already taken that curse (Gal 3:13), and Paul has just gotten done saying that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Psalm 122 says “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” What is our attitude toward the Jews today? God loves them and wants so much for them to come to Him. Jesus said on his way into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday:
Luke 13:34-35 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ’Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’"
Let us, like Paul, have a tremendous heart for the Jews, praying that they will see their Messiah. A day will come when Israel returns to God, and then will come forth super evangelists who will finally get it and be a force to reckon with.
4 – 5
Paul says “they had so much going for them.” They were supposed to be Israel, governed by God. They were adopted by God at Mt. Sinai, God showed them His glory on the mountain, married them with the covenants, gave them His character sketch in the Law, the way to worship God through the sacrifices, and the wonderful promises that awaited someone who wanted a relationship with him. And finally they were the people actually related in the flesh to the Messiah Jesus! Every one of these things point to Jesus and should have been a no-brainer once Jesus came on the scene. They had a leg up, a tremendous advantage. Yet most did not recognize Him and actually were threatened by Jesus and had Him put to death.
What happened to them in rejecting Jesus was not new. They had been rejecting God from the moment of the beginning of the marriage ceremony! We just finished studying 2 Kings 17, in which God had finally had enough of rebellious Israel and sent them into exile in Assyria.
2 Kings 17:15 “They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false…”
But Israel’s rejection of God did not mean God’s plan failed.
6 – 13
I see two main points in this section. It involves God’s call and our choice.
1 – Verse 6: Just because some of God’s chosen people rejected the Messiah doesn’t mean God has failed. You don’t become a Christian based on physical birth. Not all Jews by birth are part of the spiritual Israel (he’ll talk about that later in chapter 11). We have to choose to become a part of God’s family.
2 – It involves God’s call. Paul pictures this by giving the example of Jacob’s kids: Esau and Jacob. Esau was the elder, but God chose Jacob to carry the line of the Messiah. It didn’t have anything to do with behavior. Just like you can’t get God to love you by being good or stop God from loving you because you are bad. We are “elected” by God’s own mercy, not by our character or ancestry. It’s like getting an invitation – we can chose to accept it or not, but it is God who chose to invite us.