Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are His descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ 8 In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: ‘At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.’ 10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad— in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by Him who calls— she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ 13 Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”
As Christians, we know God to be sovereign. So what does it mean when we say that? Essentially ,we’re saying that God is both all-powerful and completely free in His actions. He does what He says He will do. Think about that for a minute… Now think about this: Can God be trusted to do what He says? This was the ultimate question Paul sought to answer in chapters 9–11. I’ll cut to the chase…His answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’
Put yourself in the shoes of Paul’s readers. God has made promises to Israel. Since they are God’s promises, they can’t possibly fail, yet the people of Israel appear to have rejected their supreme privilege—the Messiah. It now seems to be the gentiles who are accepting the gospel and being brought into the place of blessing. Many of Paul’s readers had to be wondering “How could God deal with Israel this way?”
So Paul took head-on what seemed to be a serious theological problem. As Doug Moo put it, “To defend the gospel, Paul must defend God’s faithfulness to His promises to Israel. For if God has gone back on His word to Israel, then a deep chasm between the Old and New Testament opens up, and the good news can no longer claim the God of Israel as its author.”
Paul begins this passage by making sure his readers didn’t make the mistake of supposing even for a moment that God‘s word had failed—there was no breach of promise on God’s part, there was no malfunction where God had to go to a “Plan B”. No, the failure was not on God’s plan as revealed in scripture, but instead was because ethnic Israel responded negatively to the fulfillment of His promises through Christ.
Remember that many Jews appealed to their descent from Abraham as a symbol of their ongoing special relationship with God, but here Paul says the promise is not biological. I can’t help but think the disconnect between the Jews had to have been easily seen. Even John the Baptist recognized the disconnect in Israel’s leaders; he saw their true nature. He saw the great devotion the Pharisees professed, their great devotion to the law, but all the while they were inwardly corrupt, sectarian, hypocritical, and self-righteous (Matt. 3:9). Even Jesus made a clear distinction between who was a true disciple when He said, “You truly are my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings (John 8:31).”
In our passage today, Paul asserts that true membership in God’s chosen people is based on faith, not physical ancestry. True children of God are those who trust in God and in what Jesus Christ has done for them. As Paul said in Galatians 3:6, “In the same way, ‘Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.’ The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.”
The gospel message has always been about absolute trust in God to accomplish what He has promised; it’s fundamental to our security as believers. So as we work through the passage this week, keep God’s sovereignty in mind…let it fill your heart with confidence. Paul did not talk about this to fill us with despair; it’s just the opposite—he wants to fill us with hope, to pour courage into our hearts.
I think it would be appropriate for us to remember some of what we reflected on back in Romans 8. Think about the wonderful promises Paul shared:
- God works all things touching our lives for good (8:28)
- Our present sufferings are as nothing compared to the glory God will give us (8:18)
- Nothing will keep us from enjoying that glory in the end (8:29–30; cf. vv. 31–39)
The question we need to ask today is this: Will God keep those promises to us? Absolutely! God is utterly trustworthy and all-powerful. Nothing can keep Him from doing what He said He will do. (Moo)
*From what you have just read and considered, what is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the Gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live out this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the Good News today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest; Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding, for leading (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.