A. W. Tozer reminds us, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Paul clearly understood the Jewish mind – he was a Jew, a Pharisee. Chapter 9 is a “shout out” to his Jewish kinsmen.
I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying; my conscience testifies to me through the Holy Spirit.(Romans 9:1)
Paul shares his heart hurt for his brothers and sisters, His kinsmen, the Jews. The Lord blessed him with the gospel message: It is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, to Jews first and then to the Gentile.
If we want a right relationship with God, then we need to remember it’s not about pedigree or even the law. The right relationship or right standing comes through the right faith in the right Messiah.
The Jewish failure to believe the gospel broke Paul’s heart. He could have been angry and yelled at their ignorance. No, instead, he shows his vulnerable love for them. Paul knew, only too well, that we can sin against God by thinking and doing what is wrong while believing it is right.
How many Jewish Christians died because of Paul?
Paul, formerly known as Saul, had formerly ravaged the church by entering house after house, dragging men and women out and sending them to prison. He breathed threats of murder against the disciples of Jesus. Then, one day on the road to Damascus, Christ confronted him with a blinding light. Days later, he regained his sight and became the greatest missionary on earth (see Acts 9). One encounter with the Messiah turned his life upside down.
His zeal was no longer reserved for the Jews nor the Gentiles, but for the Savior.
Paul understood that nothing could separate us from the God. His heart hurt so much for the Jews that he was willing to sacrifice himself for them. If it were possible, he would have accepted the fate of separation of God if that would bring them into the kingdom of God.
The Jews were God’s chosen people, privileged. They had a special place in God’s heart:
- Children of God from the promise to Abraham, “You are children of the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 14:1)
- Seen, with their own eyes, the “shekinah” glory of God.
- Given the covenants of God, an agreement to engage in a mutual relationship. God approached them in a covenant love relationship, but they failed to reciprocate. Sadly, it was a one-sided love.
- Entrusted with the breath of God—His Word.
- Understood and took part in the true worship in the temple to the one and only true God.
- Given the promises of God, including the promise of the Messiah.
- Gained ancestral rights—the blood running in their veins, purely from the tribes of Israel.
- Given the plan of salvation first. The Anointed One of God—the Son of God came, walked among them, lived, died, and was raised again in their time.
Disobedience, rebellion, and self-indulgence broke Paul’s heart.
God could have given up on the plan of salvation because His people rejected it. True, not all, but a good number, and today they still reject it. The tragedy was not that God gave up on them, but they gave up on Him.
God’s love never fails – His word never broken.
Remember, Paul sent this letter to the church in Rome and the church was a mix of Jewish and Gentile believers. Paul pulls valuable words from Sacred Scripture to remind us of God’s sovereignty.
Remember Pharaoh? Pharaoh, when confronted with God’s demands, had the audacity to say to Moses, “Who is this God that I should obey Him?” As the drama unfolds in Sacred Scripture, the power and glory of God was manifested as Moses led God’s people out of bondage.
God never had to send the Angel of death twice or display another Passover. It’s no coincidence or happenstance that Easter and the Passover coexist. The Name of God, Most High, is still broadcast all around the world.
For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “For this thing I assigned you a part of the drama of history—that I might demonstrate My power by what happens to you and that My Name will be broadcast throughout all the world.”Romans 9:17 NRSV
God can do what He does. What He does is never arbitrary or without purpose. Despite what happens (even today), God is in control. No one has a claim on God, and we deserve nothing for all we’ve already been given. God deals with each of us according to His will and mercy.
Why do they still reject Him?
God’s own people rejected His Son and were instrumental in His death. Sadly, today they are still rejecting so great a salvation. However, the doors are wide open for the rest of us—a people He did not call His people are now His people—those once called unloved are His beloved.
He came into the world, and the world came into being through Him; yet the world did not know Him. He came to what His own, and to His own people, did not accept Him. But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.John 1:10-15 NRSV
Some believe God deliberately darkened the minds, blinded the eyes, and hardened the hearts of His people? No! I refuse to believe that.
The Jews, although a privileged nation, are not immune to the prince of this world or the sin that so easily entraps us. They need to find a right relationship with God like the rest of us.
Right Relationship with God?
We, the Gentiles, were not looking for a right relationship with God, and yet when we have this gift of right standing with Him. Sadly, the Jewish mind looks for a love relationship with God by another path.
In my research, I’ve discovered the Jewish mind thought by strictly obeying the law they could pile up credit with God and such credit earned them salvation or a right standing with God. Honestly, is there ever enough credit in the balance where God owes us anything? It’s a losing battle because imperfection is as imperfection does.
As usual, Paul brings us back to the gospel. The righteous (in right standing) live by faith. If we try to work our way into a love relationship with God, then we’ll be sorely disappointed.
God is the foundation of everyone’s life. He intentionally laid out this plan for salvation, first to the Jews and then to us. It did not fade into history at the Jewish rejection.
Our faith led us into a right standing, and His abundant love keeps us there.
God’s gift of salvation is unchanged—there is therefore, now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
Praise God. For everyone in Christ, Jew or Gentile, we have a blessed assurance. This is our story and this is our song:
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of the Spirit, washed in His blood. Perfect submission, perfect delight! Visions of rapture now burst on my sight! Angels descending, bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love. Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest. Watching and waiting, looking above. Filled with His goodness, lost in His love. This is my story; this is my song. Praising my savior all the day long.”Blind Fanny Crosby
Are you ready! Are you in right standing with God?
If not, there’s nothing keeping you away from Him – Believe and you will be saved.