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.’”
I can only imagine that Paul’s statement ‘not all who are descended from Israel are Israel’ would have been jarring to his readers. It definitely would have been an attention getter, but he was only speaking the truth. Israel’s condition followed a pattern of divine action and human response, which had often unfolded in the past. Think of their history—they would forget about God, live for themselves, God would deliver them, then they would fall away again.
As F.F. Bruce says, “Some have always opened their hearts to God’s revelation, while others have hardened theirs; and by the variety of their response they have shown whether or not they were among those on whom God had set His sovereign choice.”
Remember Paul already pointed out that a person was not a true Jew just because they were born to Jewish parents or because they followed the ceremony of circumcision. No, Paul said that the true Jew was the one whose life brought forth praise to God, that natural descent and physical circumcision were not the things that mattered most (2:28-29). Abraham’s true offspring were those who believed in the promise that came by faith (Romans 4).
In verses 8-9, Paul reminded his readers that there had always been two Israel’s: those who were physically descended from Israel and those who were the spiritual offspring. He wanted his readers to know that it was not physical descent that counted. The true Israel consisted of those Jews who were selected by God and to whom He made specific promises, marking them out as His children. We see this principle of sovereign election in the case of Isaac and Jacob. In Romans 9:9, God appeared to Abraham, promising that He would return at the appointed time and that Sarah would have a son. That son, of course, was Isaac. He was truly a child of promise and a child of supernatural birth. Abraham had other children by Hagar and Keturah, but the promised line of Israel was through Sarah’s son Isaac.
So who are God’s children? The children of the promise. What was Paul saying? Paul was simply stating that being included among the children of God depends on God’s faithfulness to His promise, not a person’s physical descent from Abraham. This is good news for us because in God’s sovereignty we can have confidence that He will do what He promised. We can have confidence that our faith in Christ is a firm foundation.
The faithfulness of God is foundational to our faith. If we can’t trust what He says in the Bible, we have no reason to believe. If He doesn’t keep His Word, then our salvation is shaky and our hope is empty. But if God does fulfill His promises, then our faith is meaningful and our eternal destiny is secure.
Think about what it means personally for you to know that God is faithful to His promises. He is unchanging; what He says comes to pass and you can count on it. He is faithful.
*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.