9 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. 6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
This is not exactly the easiest passage of scripture to understand, the workings of Gods’ sovereignty and man’s free will. Theologians have debated this for centuries. So, what can I take from it?
- Paul has a huge heart for his brother Israelites to come to faith in Jesus as Messiah/saviour.
- Ancestral lineage does not automatically make you a child of God.
- It is faith in Jesus that brings me into the family of God.
- Gods mercy, compassion & kindness is not for me to manipulate or judge, but His to bestow.
Many years ago, I remember having a conversation where I told the person I was a Christian but not one of those ‘born again’ ones (Jn 3:1-7). Clearly, I understood there was a difference but not the true meaning. I see the same in this passage … Paul is explaining the dynamic of faith and there is an exchange in our hearts that needs to take place.
It was another several years before I made that exchange and was ‘born again’. Was it my will or Gods sovereignty, I’m not going to know this side of heaven and regardless, I am forever grateful it happened.
I sincerely pray today that you have also made that exchange, and by faith have accepted Jesus as your Lord and saviour.
Written by Suzie Hodgson