Summary: Paul looked at the history of Israel and whre others saw no meaning he saw God at work. He knew God had called Israel and that call still held Though a mystery, God's call is effectual.
“Between the Lines: The Wonder of It All”
A man was determined to read the entire New York City telephone directory – every name and every number. When he was about half way through someone asked him how it was going. He responded, “There’s a whale of a cast, but not much plot.” It’s easy to read life that way, isn’t it? A whale of a cast but not much plot. We read the news, watch history in the making, and it’s all a blur - names, dates, places. A whale of a cast but no meaning; nothing to tie it all together.
But Paul had a different perspective. He looked at the history of Israel and where others saw no meaning he saw God at work. Paul knew that God had called Israel and that the call still held. And therein we find meaning as well. THOUGH A MYSTERY, GOD’S CALL IS EFFECTUAL. God’s call continues to affect and impact us.
God’s call is effectual, first of all, in that WE ARE ELECTED. In Romans chapters 9-11, Paul looks at the current state of Israel and admits they are, by all appearances, on the outside looking in. This raises the question, “HOW DO WE EXPLAIN GOD’S CALL OF ISRAEL?” Paul answers that Israel has been called and therefore will be, in the end, inside the family. He explains this by claiming that God used the fall of Israel as a means to open up salvation to the Gentiles, and eventually will use the Gentiles as a means to bring the Israelites back into the fold. The “Whys?” and “How can this be?” are not important; IT’S A MYSTERY.
And we can certainly identify with that. Why did God save me? Why did He save you? Why didn’t He save someone else? Have we done anything to deserve it? Are we so great that God couldn’t resist us? Did we, in our mother’s wombs, decide to follow Christ? HOW DO WE EXPLAIN OUR SALVATION? As Moses told Israel, “For you are a people holy to the lord your God. The lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all people. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you form the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (DT. 7:6-8) Wait a minute. Didn’t Israel disobey God? Yes. Didn’t they break his covenants? Yes. Didn’t they deserve to be forgotten and punished? Of course! But isn’t it the same with us? Haven’t we been disobedient? Yes. Haven’t we broken God’s covenants? Yes. Don’t we deserve to be forgotten and punished? Of course! That’s why Charles Spurgeon once said, “I’m glad God chose me before I was born; He certainly wouldn’t have chosen me after.” We, and Israel, can only rely on the grace of God. And we can be assured that God’s call is irrevocable; it will not change.
So how do we explain our salvation? We don’t; IT’S A MYSTERY. There is nothing in us to merit it, and there is nothing that can hinder God from bestowing it. How is it that George Beverly Shea has written and sung? “There’s the wonder of sunset at evening, The wonder as sunrise I see; But the wonders of wonders that thrills my soul Is the wonder that God loves me. There’s the wonder of springtime and harvest, The Sky, the stars, the sun; But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul Is a wonder that’s only begun. O the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me. O the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me.”
All of DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY IS A MYSTERY. None of us chose to be here at this point in time; none of us campaigned to be chosen. As Jesus said to his disciples (Jn. 15:16): “You did not choose me, but I chose you...” In those days disciples chose their own rabbi or teacher to follow; but not so with the disciples of Jesus - He chose them! And what a group they were. I wonder if I would have picked them? No training, some of them with quick tempers, one a tax collector, none of them proven. I do not think I would have chosen them.
Rev. James Clard tried to put this in perspective in a clever way by composing the following letter.