Romans 9-16: From Guilt to Glory -- Exhibited and Experienced
Daily Devotions for the Month of November
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There is a verse in the book of Jeremiah that comes to mind as we begin to study the second half of Romans. When Jeremiah was very troubled about some things that were happening to him, he came to God and told him how he felt. Instead of being comforted, as he thought he would be, the Lord said to him,
If you have fainted when you run with footmen, how will you contend with horses? (Jeremiah 12:5). If you had difficulty handling Paul's arguments in Chapters 1 through 8 of Romans, what are you going to do now that we are in the ninth chapter? For, in this chapter, the apostle brings before us some of the toughest questions ever faced by man as he contemplates the actions and workings of God. All the bitter and denunciatory accusations that man brings against God are faced squarely in this chapter.
Chapters 1 through 8 constitute the first major division of the letter and deal with Paul's explanation of the gospel of the grace of God, the full plan of redemption, as God has worked it out. It is a marvelously brilliant explanation — the best, the most accurate, the most theologically complete detailed explanation that we have in the Scriptures. Then, starting in chapters 9, there is a second division. Paul has been talking about the grace of God and the gospel of God, and he has given an explanation of it, but now he goes back over it again — but this time his purpose is not to explain the gospel, but to exhibit it. These chapters are an exhibition of the grace of God.
At Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco there is a Wax Museum with exhibitions of scenes from various historic moments and the wax figures of various renowned characters in our national and world history. Those figures help me to grasp more clearly what those historical incidents were actually like. This is what you have in these chapters of Romans. It is a demonstration — in terms of people — of how God works in human history, how he redeems and saves.
In Chapters 1-8, the apostle has declared that man is actually helpless to save himself. There is not a thing we can do to save ourselves. We have power to choose, we are expected to choose, and we are free to choose, but, nevertheless, as Paul has made clear, God is behind it all. We don't understand that, and so in chapters 9-16 Paul turns the spotlight on Israel to demonstrate just how God works. We will learn many important things from this section of the epistle to the Romans.
This is a sad and rather sobering story about Israel. Here is a nation that counted itself as having an inside track with God, and saw itself as the people of God, the chosen nation close to God, with various advantages which no other nation had. The Israelites regarded themselves, therefore, as having a specially privileged position with God. Yet Paul begins this section with a clear acknowledgment that this nation is far, far away from God. Despite all the possibilities that they enjoyed, nevertheless, they are a long, long way away.
We pray God will bless you through this daily devotion.
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