Saving the Gentiles
God put up with the Jews to save both the Jews and Gentiles (Romans 9:22-24)
We often look at situations backwards. We see God hardening Pharaoh's heart, but we miss how many times God gave Pharaoh a chance to change his mind. Have you ever thought why God used ten plagues? Couldn't He have freed the Israelites with just one or two? Why did God put up with so much rebellion from Pharaoh? (Exodus 9:15-17).
How many chances did the Jews have to say, "Wait a minute. This is wrong!"?
God gives abundant opportunities for the evil to change so that He can demonstrate His justice in punishing the wicked and His rich mercy for saving those who do turn from sin. That mercy was prepared in advance. God never planned to lock the wicked away, but laid out a plan to pull the wicked out of sin. A plan that Paul said in Ephesians was laid out before the world even began (Ephesians 1:3-4). And there is that point again: God's plan for saving mankind had nothing to do with men being so good that they deserved to be saved. The plan was established before man even existed so it can never be claimed that it was based on our righteousness. Nor was God's plan stopped by the wickedness of mankind. God saved us despite our sins.
The Jews had not been wiped out when they sinned (Lamentations 3:22). They were given ample opportunity to change. Later Paul discusses the fact that by bringing in the Gentiles into salvation, God hoped that if for no other reason than jealousy, the Jews might be motivated to turn from their wickedness. Yet at the same time, it was their hatred of the Gentiles that locked many of the Jews into stubbornly refusing to become Christians.
God planned to save the Gentiles (Romans 9:25-26)
The saving of the Gentiles has always been God’s plan. Paul proves his point by citing a few of the Old Testament Scriptures which talked about God’s plan. God said in Hosea that He would call those who are not currently His people to be His people (Hosea 2:23; I Peter 2:9-10). They would be sons of the living God (Jeremiah 10:10; I Thessalonians 1:9).
God knew only a portion of the Jews would be saved (Romans 9:27-29)
Just as God planned in advance to save people of all nations, He also knew that all of Israel would not be saved. This time Paul quotes Isaiah 10:20-23 to show that only a small portion of Israel would be saved. God had said he would make quick work of it. Israel as a whole sinned and those who sinned would be cut off (Isaiah 30:12-14). If the destruction wasn’t cut short, all of Israel would not have survived (Isaiah 1:9; Lamentations 4:6).
Why the Gentiles accept the Gospel and the Jews reject it (Romans 9:30-33)
Paul is discussing why the Jews reject Christianity and the Gentiles accept it. It isn't talking about individuals directly, though individuals were selected to illustrate the points. It can be applied to individuals to understand why some people convert to Christianity and other reject the very same message. But Paul is not discussing God arbitrarily picking and discarding people before the world began, that all the world's decisions are already made, and we are just acting the parts in the play that God composed with no responsibility for the results. Paul's very point is that the Jews were responsible for their rejection of Christ because they did have a choice in the matter. God merely used their choice against them to accomplish His purpose. And when we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, we will be answering for our choices, even when God might use our bad choices against us to accomplish His purpose.
The Gentiles had gained salvation, not because of their past deeds, but because of their current faith. The Jews sought to live by the law of righteousness, but never reached it because they did not have faith (Hebrews 3:18-19; Philippians 3:4-9). In particular, they refused to believe in the one God prophesied concerning in their law (I Corinthians 1:23; Luke 2:34; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16).
1. Were all the Gentiles saved? Did all the Jews reject Christ?
2. Is faith contrary to works of the law?
3. Did the Law require faith (Habakkuk 2:4)?
4. Why did Paul say “as it were” in Romans 9:32?
5. Can one truly be obedient without faith? Can one truly have faith without obedience?