CAN GOD BE TRUSTED?
Holy God, sovereign, faithful, and generous in mercy, I wait in eager anticipation of your Word to me today.
Read ROMANS 9:1–5
Paul’s Anguish Over Israel
9 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised![a] Amen.
- Romans 9:5 Or Messiah, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Messiah. God who is over all be forever praised!
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Facing a task unfinished / that drives us to our knees, / a need that, undiminished, / rebukes our slothful ease.’1
To some people theology can seem arid and dry, but to Paul the things he was writing to the church in Rome were anything but. They were life and death issues.2 So, when he thought about his own people, the Jews, his emotions kicked in. He couldn’t have expressed his feelings more strongly: ‘great sorrow and unceasing anguish’ (v 2). His willingness – if only it were possible – to pay the price for his fellow Jews to come to Christ (v 3) is massively challenging. How serious are we about the spiritual need of those around us?
Paul is raising a huge question here: can we trust God’s promises? Well, the answer is obvious, isn’t it? We all know the right answer – of course we can trust them! The previous chapter ended on a triumphantly confident note.3 There is a lingering problem for Paul, however: the seeming unwillingness of most of his fellow Jews of the time to follow Christ.4 God had made great promises to his people and Paul spelled them out (vs 4,5), but if these were unfulfilled, how can we be sure that the promises to us of chapter 8 will be kept?
The response of Paul’s fellow Jews mystifies him. Despite being God’s adopted children, having the covenant promises and the Law – and thus knowing God’s will, sharing the Messiah’s genealogy and so on – they are still rejecting Jesus. Everything he mentions in verses 4 and 5 he has already mentioned in chapters 1–8. But then I think about myself. What about all the advantages I have received in Christ? Do I live faithfully or is my behavior inconsistent? The behavior of the Jews is a challenge to me personally as well as a conundrum.
Think of members of your family and friends who are not following Christ. How do you feel about them? Pray that they will come to know him.
Loving Father, in my mind’s eye I bring before you those members of my family who are not walking with you. I claim them for you.
1 Frank Houghton, 1930 2 E.g. Rom 6:23 3 Rom 8:31–39 4 Rom 10:1
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