Summary: An expository message on the faithfulness and fairness of God, especially in His dealings with Israel.
Romans Series # 42 June 12, 2002
Title: Is God Faithful and Fair?
Introduction: Welcome to New Life in Christ. We are currently in Chapter 9 of Romans as we continue with message #42 of our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Romans.
Read Romans 9:1-6
Imagine a situation where a certain man is the founder and owner of a large, profitable corporation. This man has many children in his family, and he makes a general promise: “My children will always have a seat on the Board of Directors of my company and nobody but my children will have a place on the Board of Directors. “ This is his promise, this is his word. Now suppose many years after making this promise some of those who received this promise were not placed on the Board of Directors while at the same time this man went and got people living on the streets and made them his Board members. Wouldn’t it seem that this man had not kept his word? Wasn’t this man obligated to those who were expecting to be placed on the Board but were not placed on the Board? Wasn’t it unfair to place people from the streets on the Board instead of those who had grown up in his own home?
This imaginative situation is very similar to the real situation for the Israelites; a situation that raised similar questions. The Gospel Paul proclaimed made clear that many Jews would not be included in God’s promised blessings and that many Gentiles would be included. To them it seemed that, if this were true, God was being unfaithful and unfair. After all, God had promised that the descendants of Abraham would be the recipients of these blessing. In a sense, they felt that God owed them or was obligated to them. They felt like those children in our imaginative situation who had grown up in the home and yet were not placed on the Board of Directors while at the same time, the street people, i.e. the Gentiles were. Paul writes chapters 9-11 to address these concerns and to explain that God is faithful, God is fair, and that God owes no one anything. Paul’s main message in this section could be summarized very simply as:
I. God is always faithful and fair.
With that being said, let’s look at this passage verse by verse.
Read Verses 1-3
Before speaking some hard and disturbing words about Israel, Paul wants people to know that he is not doing so out animosity. He is not hateful of the nation of Israel; rather they are his “brothers, those of his own race. . .” He does not harbor ill feelings toward the Jewish people, even though many of them had persecuted him on account of the Gospel. Rather than bitterness toward them, he has “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart for them. He knows that they are lost because they’re separated from Christ and this fills him with sorrow. Even though they had attacked him, he desired to the utmost that they be saved.
This is an example to us of how we should feel toward even our enemies who are separated from Christ. Paul so cares about the Israelites that he would be willing to be “cursed and cut off from Christ for their sake. . .” He would be willing to go to hell forever if that would save them. These words are not just empty words but expressed the reality of his love. He “speaks the truth in Christ. . . (He is) not lying, (his) conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit.” The same love that compelled Jesus to leave the glories of heaven and suffer in our place is now at work in the apostle Paul so that he was willing to suffer for the Jewish people. The whole point being that Paul’s words to the Israelites are not the vindictive, even though they are hard.
Read Verses 4-5
Paul does not speak out of anger or ignorance. This is the point of these two verses. Paul knows very well that Israel is a special people. They are a people that have been treated different than any other nation by God. “Theirs is the adoption as sons.” This nation alone had a father/child relationship with God. Theirs is the Divine Glory, which means they alone received God’s special manifest presence. They alone received special revelation and promises such as the Law, the Covenants, and the temple worship. The whole Bible comes to us from God via the Jewish people. Even the Messiah (Christ) Jesus had his ancestry through them and that certainly makes them a special people since Jesus is “God over all.”
They had all these wonderful blessings, but this alone did not guarantee that they were right with God and sure of eternal blessings. They were lost despite the blessing because they squandered them. They did respond in faith to receiving such blessings and revelations but rather they became prideful and presumptive. In their pride they tried to be right with God through works and they presumed that God had guaranteed every descendant of Abraham a place at his table.