God’s Selection of Israel (Day 20)

Read Romans 9:1-29
   Paul expressed concern for his Jewish brothers and sisters by saying that he would willingly take their punishment if that would save them. While the only one who could save us is Christ, Paul showed a rare depth of love. Like Jesus, he was willing to sacrifice so others would be saved. How concerned are you for those who don’t know Christ? Are you willing to sacrifice your time, money, energy, comfort, and safety to see them come to faith in Jesus? 
   The Jews viewed God’s choosing of Israel in the Old Testament as being like adoption. They were undeserving and without rights as natural children. Yet God adopted them and granted them the status of His sons and daughters. 
   God’s Word in the form of beautiful covenant promises came to Abraham. Covenant people, the true children of Abraham, are not just his biological descendants. They are all those who trust in God and in what Jesus Christ has done for them (Galatians 3). 
   The Jews were proud of the fact that their lineage came from Isaac, whose mother was Sarah, rather than Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar. Paul asserts that no one can claim to be chosen by God because of his or her heritage or good deeds. God freely chooses to save whomever He wills. The doctrine of election teaches that it is God’s sovereign choice to save us by His goodness and mercy, not by our own merit. 
   Was it right for God to choose Jacob, the younger, to be over Esau? Malachi 1:2-3 refers to the nations of Israel and Edom rather than to the individual brothers. God chose Jacob to continue the family line of the faithful because He knew his heart was for God. But He did not exclude Esau from knowing and loving Him. Keep in mind the kind of God we worship: He is sovereign; He is not arbitrary; in all things He works for our good; He is trustworthy; He will save all who believe in Him. When we understand these qualities of God, we know that His choices are good even if we don’t understand all His reasons. 
   In verses 17-18, Paul quotes from Exodus 9:16, where God foretold how Pharaoh would be used to declare God’s power. Paul uses this to show that salvation was God’s work, not the people’s. God’s judgment on Pharaoh’s sin was to harden his heart, to confirm his disobedience, so that the consequences of his rebellion would be his own punishment. 
   With this illustration, Paul is not saying that some of us are worth more than others but that the Creator has control over the created object. The created object, therefore, has no right to demand anything from the Creator: its very existence depends on Him. Keeping this perspective removes any temptation to have pride in personal achievement. 
   About 700 years before Jesus’ birth, Hosea told of God’s intention to restore His people. Paul applies Hosea’s message to God’s intention to bring Gentiles into His family after the Jews rejected His plan (Hosea 1 and 2). 
   Isaiah prophesied that only a small number of God’s original people, the Jews, would be saved (Isaiah 1 and 10). Paul saw this happening in every city where he preached. Even though he went to the Jews first, relatively few ever accepted the message.