Summary: Have you ever thought about how through the centuries God has preserved the Jewish people and they have maintained their identity even though they have been scattered all over the planet Earth? Why? Because God preserved them.
Today we are going to be talking about the sovereign selection of God, the Grace of God, the gracious character of God. You know there is so much in the Bible I do not understand, but I just accept it and believe it. I don’t have to understand it for me to believe it. I heard about a 5-year-old boy who was in Sunday School. His teacher taught a lesson that Sunday about how God put Adam in the Garden of Eden and then saw that he was all alone and so God put Adam into a deep sleep, opened up his side and took one of his ribs. Like I have said before, he must have had a “spare” rib and God turned it into a “prime” rib. He used that rib from Adam’s side to create Eve, his wife. Later that afternoon the boy was out running and playing. He came inside to the kitchen and his mother was there. He was holding his side and he said, “Mother, mother! My side’s hurting. I think I’m about to have a wife!” Yes, there’s a lot in the Bible I don’t understand, but I just accept it by faith.
We come now to Romans chapter 9, which many people feel is a very difficult, obscure, sticky passage of scripture. I don’t claim to understand it; I just claim to believe it. This is a good time for us to stop and sort of get the “big picture” of Romans.
When I was growing up we had a 1962 Chevrolet station wagon. Do you remember station wagons? That was before the minivans and SUVs came along. We had a third seat in the station wagon, which faced the back. Now, I liked sitting in the back because you could not only see what you were going toward, you could also see where you’d been. It’s good for us to stop for a moment and say, “Now, where have we been in the book of Romans?”
Romans chapters 1 through 8 are all about God’s righteousness declared. God is declared to be a righteous, holy God. He is perfect. Now, we, in opposition to that, are all sinners by nature and by choice. Yet, God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and so he has justified us. He is currently sanctifying us through the presence of the Holy Spirit in us and one day he is going to glorify us. Then you come to Romans chapters 9 through 11, which is the second big section we are starting this morning. This is the section about God’s righteousness defended. If you remember the theme of Romans is Romans 1:16, which says, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God and the salvation to everyone that believes. To the Jew first and then to the Gentile.” Then he spends eight chapters talking about salvation and all along as we are reading that in the back of our mind we are asking, “Well, what about the Jews? What about Israel?” In Romans 9 through 11, he is defending the righteousness of God and he is using it to address the issue of Israel. In fact, in chapter 9 we are going to be looking at God’s sovereignty. How God chooses whom he will choose. It’s kind of looking at it from heaven’s perspective over the shoulder of God. Then, in chapter 10, we’re going to look at man’s responsibility. The perspective changes back to Earth when it talks about, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 11 is about God’s faithfulness to synthesize the two.
What about Israel? It’s interesting as I read the commentaries on Romans. There was a man named Alexander McLauren who is often called the “Prince of Expositors”. He lived one hundred years ago in Manchester, England. There are a tremendous number of commentaries, but he stops at the end of Romans chapter 8 and totally skips chapters 9, 10 and 11. He starts back up in Romans12:1. Why does he do that? Even as much as I love, respect and admire that great pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for so many years, Dr. George W. Truett, in his writings on Romans, he admits he doesn’t understand Romans 9 through 11 and kind of stumbles through it. Do you know the difference between today and one hundred years ago? Even 75 years ago? Today there is a nation of Israel. The Jews have a country, a land. One hundred years ago there was no Israel. They had to spiritualize it. Even 75 years ago there was no nation of Israel. Every time I visit the Holy Land I am reminded how God has preserved and restored the nation of Israel. It’s all part of his promise. We are living right now in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. God is not through with the nation of Israel. That’s what Romans 9 through 11 is all about. You and I have the benefit of living in a time when there is a nation of Israel.