There are three areas of Israel’s worship wiring that I want you to be aware of from this passage this week. You first have to see the overarching statement that Paul uses to describe them: Israelites. Why does he use that term? In the previous chapters in Romans he calls them Jews. In this passage he calls them Israelites. Why? This is extremely significant, especially if you look in Genesis 32:22-28. Israelites were descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, which means “one who struggles with God”. It is clearly being used by Paul to refer to their history and it is done in honor. It stands as the summary word, or the overarching term that is defined by six of the following attributes: adoption, glory, covenants, law, worship and promises. This week we will cover three of them and handle the other three next week.
Israel has been afforded the high privilege of being called God’s children, and not just any children. God called them, in Exodus 4, his firstborn children. In Deuteronomy 14 he says, “You are the sons of the LORD your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
You may be thinking, “Is the adoption Paul speaks of in Romans 9 the same kind of adoption spoken of in Romans 8:15-23?” My answer to that is simple…kinda. There is an external sense to God’s adoption of Israel and a spiritual sense as well. The adoption of the children of Israel in the Old Testament was more external than internal, but there was an internal aspect to their adoption. Their adoption mainly pertained to their separation from the rest of the nations as God’s special, elect people. The purely spiritual adoption of Romans 8 has to do with justification by faith and the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit, which was not an Old Testament reality. So there are some similarities within the word but they are not exactly the same.