Summary: Everything about us that makes us, us, is through and to and for Him.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? 35 Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
“Since grace is the source of the life that is mine –
And faith is a gift from on high –
I’ll boast in my Savior, all merit decline,
And glorify God ‘til I die.”
These words we come to study today, even if taken out of the context of Romans eleven, would stand by themselves a complete and accurate declaration of the glory and sovereignty of Almighty God.
Paul has just finished his teaching concerning the state of the Jewish nation in the omnipotent and omniscient will of God and her future according to His predetermined plan, then he breaks into this anthem of praise in which we can almost hear the tremor in his voice; see the tear glimmering in his eye, sense with him the futility of trying to put into words that which is beyond the imagination of men.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”
Listen to those words! Riches of wisdom and knowledge! Unsearchable judgments! Unfathomable ways!
JB Phillips’ paraphrase says, “How could man ever understand his reasons for action, or explain his methods of working?”
In translating the wording of the second half of verse 33 in this way, Phillips has asked the question in brief that we will inspect today. Now I did not say we were going to investigate. I do not say that we will attempt to answer the question. That is not an answerable question, other than to say, ‘man cannot understand God’s reasons for action, nor explain God’s methods of working’. So we will not engage in folly here, attempting to do what the Apostle has implied with his declaration cannot be done. What we will do, rather than investigate, is inspect. I want to inspect the question itself and focus, not on man’s inability to fathom God, but on the God who cannot be fathomed, to His glory and praise.
It is ever the propensity of the fallen nature that men ask the wrong questions. It will always be this way. The nature of mankind since the fall is diametrically opposite of God’s nature; his thinking opposite of God’s thinking – not only infinitely less, but opposite; opposed.
You have heard me say that we are turned around backwards, and I mean that in every way you can apply the word.
It means we want precisely the opposite of what God wants. That means we want glory, we do not want to acknowledge His glory. We do not understand His motives nor His actions; by our nature we ascribe wrong motives and actions to Him.
This is why people ask, ‘why would a loving God allow such and such?’ or ‘if there really is a good God, why does He allow this in my life?’
And it is not only the unchurched who ask these kinds of faithless questions; not only the unbeliever.
The Bible is full of people asking God the wrong questions – reaching wrong conclusions out of their ignorance of God’s thinking and God’s ways – and they are just like us.
Remember Job who finally comes to the place of bemoaning his humiliation and his unrewarded good deeds, and remember that the response he receives is a series of questions from God, asked rhetorically like Paul’s questions in Romans 11, challenging Job to come face to face with his utter helplessness, uselessness and insignificance apart from God who made all provided all, triumphed and rules over all.
Remember Elijah’s grievance pertaining to what he perceived as the total apostasy of Israel, and God’s response to Him. Paul quotes it here in Romans 11 verse 4. “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal”.
Notice God did not say, ‘Seven thousand have stayed faithful and I’m so glad they did’; no, that would have put God on the same dependant level as Elijah, only one step ahead by virtue of having a response to bring Elijah up to date. Instead, He said, “I have kept for Myself”.
Paul told the Athenian philosophers that God does not dwell in temples made with hands neither is He served by human hands as though He Himself needed anything, for it is He who gives to all life and breath and all things.