Mini recap on Chapter 9
Read Romans 9:1-5
Paul is showing sorrow towards his fellow Jews as chapter 8 provides a beautiful view into life with Christ, which ultimately means the Jews are excluded from salvation. This creates a scenario that Paul now faces into. Can we trust the promises in chapter 8 because God made promises to the Jews and Chapter 8 goes back on those promises? We even see that the Messiah came out of the Jews and can trace His ancestry back to Abraham, the Jewish patriarch.
Read Romans 9:6-9
Paul argues that the reference to the descendants of Abraham is not His physical offspring (through blood), but rather the children of promise (through faith). Paul shows that while the line of Abraham puts Ishmael (1st born) ahead of Isaac, God chose Isaac to carry the promise.
Read Romans 9:10-13
Preempting the objection that Ishmael and Isaac were from different mothers which is why the promise didn't pass to the 1st born, Paul now presents Esau and Jacob. This time twins, same mother, same pregnancy. The blessing again passing from Esau (1st born) to Jacob.
In both of these examples, Isaac and Jacob, we see God's sovereignty and providence in the story of salvation.
Read Romans 9:14
Is this fair? Is God just or unjust?
Read Romans 9:15-18
Now Paul presents the story of the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. We are presented with Pharoah and Moses. Both were raised up for a purpose. Pharoah was to have his heart hardened in order to show God's people how great and mighty God is. Ultimate God gives mercy to who he wants.
This now raises the next question, are we therefore puppets? Can we be blamed if we're not just doing God's will? Read Romans 9:19-23. We don't really find a direct answer, rather Paul doubles down on his "God is sovereign" argument. Who are we to talk back to God? He uses the potter and clay analogy from the Old Testament. We are therefore objects of wrath or objects of His mercy prepared in advance for glory.
Let's know read Romans 9:24-29
Now we get a better response and a glimpse at the bigger picture. God's mercy is distributed how He wants and to who He wants and who are we to question? Here we see the word "called" which many argue means "prepared in advance for His glory". We are summoned to enter into a relationship with God and it is the sole basis of inclusion, that is... "He has called us".
We are then presented with a pattern, v24 part A, Jew, and v24 part B, Gentile (meaning rest). Then we see the response to Gentiles (B), then a response for the Jews (A). Paul uses the Old Testament to show this is all part of God's big, sovereign and perfect plan of salvation.
Firstly, we read a quote from Hosea 2:23 and 1:10
I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’” (Hosea 2:23)
“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ (Hosea 1:10)
Interestingly, the original context of these verses is from the exile of the northern kingdom (Isreal) when 10 of the 12 tribes were dispersed into the Assyrian Empire. Remembering that they had been exiled because they had turned away from God and not repented after they had been warned. Paul now extends these verses to mean that the "Not my people" who would be included and called "children of the living God" refers to the Gentiles.
remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
We are now included in the invitation to the Kingdom of God through repentance and believe in Jesus Christ.
Then Paul quotes Isaiah 10:22-23
Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous. The Lord, the Lord Almighty, will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land. (Isaiah 10:22-23)
This is a call to the Jews. The verses point back to the promises made about the remnant. This had been used to describe the group of Jews who had been exiled and then returned to Jerusalem. The promise of hope and salvation to the Jews. God maintained His commitment to save at least some of the people despite Israel's sinfulness, and that not all would be destroyed.
Quoting Isaiah 1:9 Paul finishes this section with a link to the descendants of Abraham.
Unless the Lord Almighty had left us some survivors, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:9)
Repeated references to Abraham's descendants are linked to God's covenant with him. Dust on the earth and sand on the seashore (Genesis 13:16, 22:17,28:14, 32:12). In Christ and through God's revelation we now see that this links, not to Abraham's physical offspring, but shifts to being His children through faith, being brothers and sisters in Christ - the true descendants. We are selected by God, not biologically, but through faith, (Romans 4:10-12)
It is through the relationship we have with God that makes us His children, and how we fit into God's redemptive story. Under the New Covenant, there is no distinction, faith not race!