Thursday, 19 October 2017

God and Israel

Question from someone on Facebook:
What was Paul talking about in verse 6 [Rom 9:6 KJV] 6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they [are] not all Israel, which are of Israel:.... 
John Edwards?

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John Edwards It's a continuation of Paul explaining the gospel, just as he was doing in chapters 1-8. Continuing his same method, which included anticipating mis-concepts of the gospel, and addressing each as he went along.

And one of Paul's favourite objectives in it all of course, was the unity of the faith, the unity of the church, the unity of the mixed Gentile/Jewish congregation (which was where he was always going with all this, and which was where he ends up at, in chapters 12-15 - unity). 

This particular found in a section where Paul was dealing particularly with a potential mis-concept which could have threatened to undermine that unity, an attitude which was perhaps more likely in the capital city of Caesar's empire than anywhere else: a mis-concept about Israelis, a theological mis-concept, one which could cause Gentile members of the church to discriminate against Jews.

So part of what Paul was saying here was that the gospel did not at all imply that the promises given to the nation of Israel had failed, or that ethnic Israelis have been somehow brushed aside by God to the extent of an ethnic Israeli being barred from salvation. 

Admittedly there had been widespread unbelief among Israelis, but the fact was that many Jews had believed, and were indeed experiencing the salvation God promised. This company of Israeli believers, Paul calls the true Israel. It was they in whom God's promises had indeed taken their effect. Paul, being himself a Jew, was an example of that very outcome. 

Since salvation could never have come from ethnicity, nor from practising old-Judaism, it had therefore always been God's plan to ultimately centre His salvation around His Son, and for His true people to comprise of believers in His Son. And many Jews were experiencing it. Meanwhile, that represented no unrighteousness at all on God's part, in His dealings with national Israel. 

It was an outcome which had actually brought clarity: it was God's mercy in full-bloom (experienced by believers, both Jews and Gentiles), and it also showed the extent of the depraved state of all mankind, Jews included (who, outside of faith in Messiah, couldn't experience the promised blessing).

All mankind was in reality in the same state of need, spiritually, including Jews, despite their privileged position as custodians of the promise. And in Christ God lifted all, up to the same heavenly blessing. But only through faith in Jesus. Not through Jewish ethnicity. Not by becoming proselytes to Judaism. By Jesus. God chose that the people whom He identifies as His people, were to be the company of people who believed in His Son. Jews and Gentiles.

Nothing had failed. No-one was being discriminated against. Now, the church at Rome can reflect that glorious faith and unity!

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