Yesterday, we discovered from Romans 9:6b-7a that there is a difference between ethnic and true Israel. Today, our understanding is driven deeper into God’s sovereign grace.
There is a difference between the flesh and the promise (9:7b-9)
- Through Isaac shall your offspring be named:
- Genesis 15:1-6 describes the promise of God made to Abraham, which he believed and God reckoned that faith to him as righteousness.
- Genesis 16: 1-2, 4a, 10-12 shows Abraham and Sarah deciding to circumvent the timetable of God and advance the promise on their own with Hagar. Their efforts are a miserable failure.
- Genesis 17:7-8, 15-21 points to the covenant God made with Abraham wherein Abraham laughs at God’s announcement of a child being born to Sarah and asks God to bless Ishmael. God refuses, pointing to the true son of the promise, born by Sarah.
- Genesis 18:10, 14 produces the quote used in Romans 9, that God would attend to Abraham and Sarah and she would give birth to a son.
- This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring: Romans 2:25-29 reminds us that circumcision was never merely outward and physical, but a matter of the heart. While both Ishmael and Isaac were physical children of Abraham, only Isaac was a child of the promise.
- For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” This is a quote from Genesis 18:10 and 14. Who is the actor in this verse? Who is the one who is getting the thing accomplished? I will return. God is the one who is getting the promise accomplished through the means of his people. Is anything too hard for the Lord? God is the one who accomplishes his promises, not people. God does use people to accomplish his purposes, but in the end, he is the one who receives glory because Sarah and Abraham were so old that the only explanation for a 90 year old having a baby was God. That’s why she laughed when God was talking to Abraham. Which is awesome because Isaac means laughter in Hebrew.
I want you to think deeply about these verses with me. Maybe you are reading this blog as a new believer and you are trying to figure all of this out, or maybe you have been a believer for a long time and all this talk about God’s election has you scared that maybe you’re not one of the true people of God. Read Galatians 3:26-29 and you will read some encouraging words: the children of God are heirs together with Abraham in the promise of Messiah Jesus. Now, in the promise made to Abraham, we learn that God is the actor. God is the one who came and Sarah had a son. Isaac was born because God showed up. You and I were reborn because God showed up. John 3 reminds us that which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of Spirit is Spirit. We are reborn not because of what we have done, but because of what he has done.