Entered into Romans 9 this morning. While very familiar, like Romans 8, I’ve never felt like I’ve got my arms around it like I think I do with Romans 8. Perhaps because, unlike Romans 8 which unpacks the supernatural working of God in the life of a believer through the active agency of the Spirit, Romans 9 is centered around questions about the mysterious ways of God working throughout history in the lives of nations in fulfillment of His promises.
While trying to figure out how all the pieces through history fit together, you’re also trying to process the revelation of how a God who transcends time is working behind the scenes. How His promises and His power interact. How His will and man’s choice mesh. How what He’s determined, and how it’s playing out, come together. At the heart of it all is how God works. And that, my friend, shouldn’t be something you feel like you can get your arms around. If we could, then wouldn’t God be a pretty small God? I’m thinkin’.
Paul shifts suddenly from the mountaintop of “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37) to the valley of “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” for his “kinsmen according to the flesh”, his fellow Israelites (9:2-3), who have rejected the Savior. To quote the popular song, “They could have had it all.” Having been given “the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises”, they should not have been on the outside looking in (9:4). Given the fact that the promised Messiah, God over all, had come from their race, “according to the flesh”, they should have profited from some of that insider knowledge (9:5). But alas, not so much. So, what’s happening?!?
Over the next three chapters Paul tries to explain it. And, at the heart of it, are the behind the scenes workings of a God whose judgments are “unsearchable,” and whose ways are “inscrutable” (Rom. 11:33-35). Perhaps that’s why I have a tough time getting my arms around this?
But here’s my take away this morning. My reminder. My anchor. The stake in the ground to which all that is hard to understand is tethered to. The filter through which all my questions must be answered.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed.
(Romans 9:6a ESV)
It’s not as though the logos, the uttered decrees of God, have fallen to the ground to no avail. Not as if heavenly mandates have come up short of being played out in earthly realities. Not as though the divine narrative has somehow become of no effect. That’s just not how our God rolls. From the beginning, literally the beginning, God has established the power of His word. Read Genesis 1 and, again and again, you’ll read that “God said” and “there was.” God said, “and it was so.”
The word of God does not fail. His promises do not come up short. His purposes are not prevented. Regardless of how things look at any given moment in time, they are playing out according to the One who inhabits eternity. Despite the questions that finite minds come up with when trying to process infinite might, we can be confident that the Creator’s purposes continue.
Standing on the foundation of God’s word has a way of helping you reset the world when it seemingly gets turned upside done. Being tethered to His eternal truth has way of helping you weather the storm waves of confusing circumstance threatening to cast you against the rocks of uncertainty and unbelief.
Let Your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your promise; then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me, for I trust in Your word.
(Psalm 119:41-42 ESV)
An unfailing word. A firm foundation. An anchor for the soul.
By His grace. For His glory.