Topic: The Place of Israel in God’s Plan
Memory Verse: Romans 9:3
Having looked at the theme of God’s righteousness through faith from Romans 1-8, Paul now turns to God’s plan for his own people, Israel. Thus the next three chapters (Romans 9-11) deal with Israel’s spiritual history: her past (chapter 9), her present (chapter 10), and her future (chapter 11). Paul’s purpose is to explain how God could set aside God’s chosen people and save the Gentiles, and how God will restore the nation at some future date.
Israel’s Election Described (9:1 – 13)
In Romans 9:1-13, Paul describes the spiritual journey of the Israelites with reference to their election. Here Paul identifies some blessings of their election and goes on to establish the basis of the election.
1. The blessings of the election (verses 1 – 5)
We must admire Paul’s burden for Israel. His words remind us of Moses in Exodus 32:31-32. The apostle lists some of the great blessings that have been given to Israel because of her election as the people of God. They are as follows:
• The adoption—chosen by God because of His love (Isaiah 43:20 – 21).
• The glory—the presence of God in the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34 –35).
• The covenants—through Abraham, Moses and David, God gave unchanging covenants to His people Israel.
• The giving of the Law—God did not do this with the Gentiles. Israel heard God’s voice and received His laws to govern their lives.
• The temple worship —the priestly service in the tabernacle and later in the temple was a privilege from the Lord.
• The promises—many Old Testament promises have been fulfilled, and many are yet to be fulfilled for the Jews.
• The fathers—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve sons of Jacob formed the foundation for the nation.
• The Messiah—the Lord Jesus was a Jew, of the tribe of Judah, born according to the Law. Note in verse 5 that Paul calls the Messiah “God over all, forever praised.”
No other nation had these wonderful blessings. However, Israel took them for granted and ultimately rejected the righteousness of God. The believer today also belongs to God’s elect and has similar blessings to enjoy. Some are as follows:
– Adoption (Ephesians 1:5)
– Glory (Ephesians 1:6-7)
– The new covenant in Jesus’ blood (Hebrews 9-10)
– The law written on our hearts (2 Corinthians 3 and Hebrews 10:16-17)
– Worship and service through the Messiah (John 4:23 – 26 and 14:6)
– Abraham as the father of the believing (Galatians 3:7)—all because we have Jesus the Messiah as our Lord and Savior
2. The basis of Israel’s election (verses 6-13)
In election, God exercises His sovereign will to accomplish His perfect plan. Keep in mind that the election discussed in Romans 9-11 is national, not individual. To apply all the truths of these chapters to the salvation or security of the individual believer is to miss their message completely. Paul mentions three men.
• Abraham—He was chosen as the father of the Hebrew nation, but Paul states that not all Israelites are true sons of Israel. Abraham had many children (Genesis 25:1-6). But he had only one chosen son – Isaac.
• Isaac—He was the child of promise by faith (Galatians 4:21-31). Ishmael was a child of the old nature through works. But the true “seed of Abraham” are the believers, and not just those who are Jewish people.
• Jacob—God bypassed Esau, the firstborn, and chose Jacob. This choice was made even before the children were born. Why? To show that God’s purpose in electing His nation would be fulfilled. Esau made the choice to rebel against God, but God’s purpose does not depend on man’s decisions. We cannot explain the relationship between man’s choice and God’s purpose, but we know that both are true and are taught in the Word.
This lesson has sought to introduce the spiritual past of the Israelites by identifying blessings and the basis of their election. Interestingly, the believer today also belongs to God’s elect and has similar blessings. It is therefore worth noting that believers do not take their election for granted.
1. State three blessings of Israel as a result of their election as people of God.
2. Identify any two similar blessings of election as people of God that today’s believers in Jesus have.
3. Why did God bypass Essau who was the first born and chose Jacob even before they were born?