We are heading into a complex and challenging section of the book of Romans as we continue our study this Sunday. Romans is divided into four distinct sections – and this week we’ll be starting the third section, ch 9-11, which deal with the question of Israel’s history and place in the overall narrative of God’s plan to restore all things.
Chapter 9 of Romans is a powder-keg of doctrinal volatility. People have broken friendships over differing interpretations of that chapter, pastors have been removed from churches, churches have split and veritable oceans of ink have been used to vent opinions about this difficult part of the book.
We’ll be reading ch 9:1-13 as we begin this section.
We certainly seem to go from a high point about God’s faithful love in chapter 8 to a serious lament in ch 9, don’t we? IN v 1-4, Paul is quite passionate and dramatic in expressing his heartbreak – what lengths does he say he’d go to if it would mean Israel’s acceptance of Messiah? Paul is setting the tone for ch 9-11 – it is structured as a lament.
From there he lays out the dilemma – why do the people who received the promise reject the Promise?
To address this, Paul poses rhetorical questions and then sorts his way through the facts that he knows from the Old Testament stories about how God was fulfilling his purpose through Abraham and his family.
He highlights a pattern where God isn’t interested in making sure the DNA match is there – that repeatedly, God chose specific individuals through whom he will advance his plan to redeem all things, while setting others aside.
How does this passage make you feel? What do you think it’s communicating to us about God’s faithfulness to his promise? What would you describe as the theme of this passage – personal salvation or God’s big picture plan? Those are things to mull over as we dig into this passage, hope you enjoy it!