Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Merciful Sovereignty of God: God's Sovereign Election

Since God used the nation of Israel to bring the Messiah into the world, such a thesis on the subject of salvation would be incomplete without a discussion of God's dealings with the Jews. The next three chapters deal with God's past, present, and future dealings with the nation of Israel. The Gentile believer must never forget that he is very blessed to be a part of such a magnificent salvation which was first offered to Israel (Matthew 15:24). It is easy to “westernize” Scripture and ignore the broader picture. God loves Israel, even though they have nationally rejected Him, He is still interested in the salvation of Jewish souls, and after the terrors of the Great Tribulation have passed, He will nationally redeem Israel. What a day it will be when God “...[pours] upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they [look] upon [Him] whom they have pierced, and they [mourn] for him, as one mourneth for his only son...(Zechariah 12:10)!”

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5)

This chapter begins with God's sovereign election. This national election did not guarantee the salvation of every individual Jewish soul, but it did promise that Israel would forever be special in God's sight. Paul begins with a heartfelt expression of his concern for his Jewish brethren. A willingness to offer such a sacrifice is only possible through emulation of Christ's Spirit. The Lord Himself expressed a willingness to be forever accursed from the Father should that be necessary for man's salvation (Luke 22:41-44, Hebrews 5:7); thus, Paul's close relationship with Christ may be seen in the expression of a heart that mirrored that of his Savior.

Nationally speaking, Israel has been adopted. This is an irreversible promise. They have been temporarily set aside to some degree, yet, in the future, the full extent of this adoption will be realized. The glory is speaking of the magnificent glory of God. In a special way, Israel was chosen to behold and worship before this glory as is seen in God's presence on Mount Sinai as well as in the glory that filled the Tabernacle and Temple. The word covenant is plural here and must be referring to both old and new. God made a covenant of faith with Abraham (Genesis 15), and then, on Mount Sinai, He made the covenant of His law in order that man might be pointed toward Christ (Galatians 3:24). After these things, He then promised Israel the coming of a New Covenant through the Person and work of Jesus Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Israel also had the exalted privilege of legislating God's law and being in a special place of service. All these things were a great privilege and should have spurred them to faith in the righteousness of God. However, it did not; yet, the promises are still theirs and God will hold true to His promises of redemption and restoration. The fathers is likely referring to the patriarchs most mentioned by God: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Through these three men, God consistently confirmed His covenant of faith and the coming of the Messiah. These men also understood the necessity of approaching God on the grounds of faith, and they are classified as being truly redeemed and with God in heaven (Matthew 8:11, Mark 12:26-27). These men stand as hallmarks to the humble response that God expects of every man.

The last part of this verse is a tremendous expression of Christ's deity. It may be faithfully translated “...the blessed God who is over all forever....” This phrase, of course, is referring to Christ who was just mentioned. Through the nation of Israel, God brought the God-Man into the world. This is the ultimate privilege of Israel's national election; yet, sadly, when the time came for its fulfillment, it was the most hated.

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