I’m continuing my walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. As we start chapter 9, Paul is transitioning to a new subject. It’s like a parenthesis in the letter.
He’s now going to talk about Israel as God’s chosen people. What’s their place in the era of the New Covenant?
I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit — I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.
Up to this point, Paul is talking about the great work that God is doing in us as believers. As he does so, he starts to reflect on the condition of his own people.
How does the New Covenant affect the nation of Israel? What does it mean to be His chosen people? Throughout his writings, Paul refers to the church as the elect – the chosen. How does that fit in?
The fact is that Paul has a love for his people. He loves them to the point of great sorrow over them. This love is not without reason.
Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
There is a great heritage that we receive from Israel. They were the first to be adopted as sons of God. That’s clear from Scripture.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”
They were the first to walk in the glory of God. They were the first to cut covenant with God. They actually received God’s written law.
Remember, from our look at Galatians, that the law is different than the covenants. The law was an addendum to the covenant and was not a new covenant in and of itself.
The people of Israel were the first to establish an organized religious service to God. They were the first to receive the promises of God.
In essence, they’re our fathers in the faith. When Christ took on human flesh, His ancestry is traced from Israel. He is our God.
Based upon this foundation, Paul wants to explain their condition.
It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 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.” 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.
He literally says that the Word of God did not go off course, or fail. Not all who come out of Israel are Israel. What he’s saying is that in God’s eyes, Israel is not merely a genetic group.
Just because they’re related by bloodline, doesn’t make them true children of Abraham. As proof, he offers Isaac and Ishmael.
Paul explains that there are two different types of children. There are the natural children, the children who are born of the flesh. These are not necessarily the children of God.
It’s the children of the promise that are inventoried as Abraham’s true seed. This is the basis for the rest of Paul’s teaching about Israel. As believers, we really need to understand the place of Israel in the scheme of things. That’s especially true now that we’re in the last days before the return of Christ.
Question: How do you view Israel, as God’s people, in these last days?
© 2021 Nick Zaccardi