Friday after the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Posted on November 9, 2018 byunder
Scripture: Romans 9:1-23 (NKJV)
9:1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”
10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses,
“I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?” 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,
St. Paul grieved for his countrymen, the Jews, because of their general rejection of the Gospel. But it was more than just the grief a person feels for lost relatives. There was special reason to grieve over Israel’s unbelief. God had favored them over every other nation. He had given them every advantage, every opportunity to recognize and receive the Christ when He came. He gave multiple “second” chances to repent and receive Him even after their initial refusal. Instead, they ramped up their persecution of the other Christians.
But Paul reminds us that God did not elect sinners to salvation because of their biological descent or because of their own goodness or worthiness. He elected us according to His mercy. He elected us in Christ. Those who will not look to Christ for salvation have no claim to God’s kingdom based on their ancestry, even if their ancestry is tied to Abraham.
Is God being unfair to Israel by condemning the unbelievers among them? Not at all. He is not to blame for their rejection. On the contrary, His faithfulness and His patience toward them demonstrate that the unbelievers have only themselves to blame, just as His grace and mercy in converting so many of the heathen demonstrate that they have only God to thank for their salvation. Indeed, His patience toward all men leads some men to repentance, even as St. Paul himself would have been lost if God had not dealt with him patiently. And we have the assurance that even those who will remain in unbelief serve God’s gracious purposes toward His elect believers.
We pray: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your mercy and grace to us in Christ Jesus. Strengthen us by Word and Sacrament that we may ever cling in faith to Christ our Savior. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.