I wanted to start this post by explaining expository preaching as opposed to advancing an agenda. Expository preaching means reading and explaining a text of Scripture no matter what that Scripture is. Advancing an agenda involves cramming a verse into what I want to say. Part of the difficulty of expository preaching is that we come upon hard passages. The passages are hard, not because the Bible can’t be understood, but because the truths are weighty and serious. This week is one of those weeks. Next week, even more so. I want to say at the beginning of this journey that we are studying God’s words, not mine and we are advancing God’s agenda, not mine. I am not trying to cram something into this text that isn’t already there. This text needs no external assistance to knock us over. So my prayer is that we will have ears that hear and minds that understand and hearts that burn with joy and actions that are radical and real as we minister to one another and to a watching world.
The Main Idea:
God never promised that all ethnic Israel would belong to the true people of God. God never promised to save all of ethnic Israel. Paul is heartbroken over the rejection of the gospel by the Israelite people (1-3), especially since they had been given so much (4-5). Indeed, we noted that they were specifically wired for worship and yet there were those within ethnic Israel who rejected, hated, and murdered Jesus. So if God promised to save Israel, why are there those within Israel who have rejected him? Had the promise of God fallen flat? Paul responds to that question in Romans 9:6a and then lays out an extremely clear argument in verses 6b-13. Today we will pound out the first part of his argument in verses 6-9.
Many people think the idea of God’s sovereign grace in election is a new idea. As if the entire Bible isn’t a story about God’s election. In all reality, election was God’s pattern of activity before he created the world (Ephesians 1). Paul is using a very specific illustration in this passage. His illustration is one that every Jew in the room would have heard and understood instantly.
There is a difference between ethnic and true Israel (9:6b-7a)
Ethnic Israel refers to all who are Israelites by birth. People who can trace their family heritage back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would generally be called Israelites. True Israel refers to the remnant, or the specific people of God inside the ethnic nation. So, there are people who are “children of Abraham” who aren’t children of God in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We will look at the Old Testament examples in a minute, but look at Matthew 23:13-15. What does Jesus call the Pharisees? Children of the devil. But are they Israelites? Yes. They are Israelites, but children of the devil (23:29-36). There is a difference between ethnic and true Israel. Tomorrow we will see another difference that is critical to our understanding of this passage.