Monday, December 04, 2023

2023.12.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 9:24–29

Read Romans 9:24–29

Questions from the Scripture text: Upon whom had the purpose of mercy been carried out by the time the letter was written (Romans 9:24a)? Upon whom had this been done first (verse 24b)? Then upon whom (verse 24c)? Where had God spoken of this previously (Romans 9:25a)? What part of His plan had He spoken about all the nations (verse 25b, cf. Hosea 2:23)? What part of His plan had He spoken about the Jews (Romans 9:26, cf. Hosea 1:10)? But where else has the Lord spoken about the Jews as the sand of the sea (Romans 9:27a)? So, then, what will this multitude be like, by comparison to the number of ethnic Israel as a whole (Romans 9:27-28, cf. Isaiah 10:20–23)? But, what will it be like compared to what they actually deserved (Romans 9:29, cf. Isaiah 1:9).

How is the principle of contra-deserved mercy displayed in history? Romans 9:24–29 prepares us for the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the principle of contra-deserved mercy is displayed both in how the Lord saves Gentiles and in how the Lord saves Jews.

When the Spirit finished the thought about vessels from the wrath-lump being prepared for mercy and glory, He added “not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.” This recalls that both in the salvation of Jews and in the salvation of Gentiles, God makes plain that salvation is entirely by His own power (cf. Romans 1:16).

Our own history is a history of salvation entirely by grace. In the original, Romans 9:24 begins “whom He called–us!” (emphasis made by word order, not punctuation). That which is a source of agony with respect to those who are not believing (cf. Romans 9:2) is a source of amazement with respect to those who are. By including himself (and other Jews) in the group at the beginning of the verse, Paul expresses amazement that God’s plan to save both Jews and Gentiles in the same way has come to life in his own life and in the lives of his believing readers. In a multitude of congregations around the world, now, believers can look around at their fellow redeemed-wrath-deservers and be amazed at God’s mercy and power in the gospel.

This was plan-A for the nations. Hopefully, we remember that saving from among all the nations was God’s original plan for what He was doing in and with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (cf. Genesis 12:3). The apostle refers back to a time when Israel was undergoing chastening from the Lord, and He prophesied through Hosea that the restoration of Israel as a bride was tied to a work that He would do in heavens and earth (cf. Hosea 2:21), a work that would be on the order of re-creation (cf. Hosea 2:22–23a): a work in which she would be loved who had not been loved (Romans 9:25c, cf. Hosea 2:23b) and they would be called His people who were not His people (Romans 9:25b, cf. Hosea 2:23c).

The nations were always meant to be brought into God’s mercy toward Israel. When we see that very thing in our experience, we ought to rejoice over God’s faithfulness to carry out His plan, just as we rejoiced over God’s mercy to plan it.

This was plan-A for Israel. Even in the context of the book of Hosea, Hosea 2:21–23 was drawing the nations into something that the Lord had already addressed to Israel in Hosea 1:6–11. It’s Hosea 1:10 that Romans 9:26 of our passage now quotes. “Sons of the living God” reminds us that what is happening at the time of Paul (or in our time)is not some plan B. This is the outworking of an adoption—a taking of sons that is initiated by the One Who adopts.

The comparatively small number is still a number of great mercy. The reader has to know Hosea 1 and Isaiah 10 in order to see the connection between Romans 9:26 and Romans 9:27. The apostle had not quoted the whole of Hosea 1:10, which begins, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered or counted.” It’s those first three lines of Hosea 1:10 that prompt reference to Isaiah 10:22: “For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them will return.” This idea of a remnant, as opposed to the whole, being saved is the heart of Isaiah 10:20–23, where the remnant language is used four times. Though they are but a remnant compared to the whole, they will still be a great number. And the ”remnant” nature of them will emphasize the greatness of the mercy on display in every single one whom He saves.

The remnant language from Isaiah 10:22 prompts the final quote, in Romans 9:29—this from Isaiah 1:9. The remnant is not evidence of unrestrained wrath but of mercy that is able to negate wrath. Sodom and Gomorrah testify to how Israel deserved to end up. The remnant testifies to the greatness of the power and mercy that saves a remnant from among such sinners!

Which group do you deserve to be in: the vessels of wrath or the remnant of mercy? How have you been responding to the contra-deservedness of God’s mercy to you?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for showing us contra-deserved mercy. Your gathering in the nations and preserving a remnant of Jews both remind us how great your mercy to each of us have been. Continue it, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP130“LORD, From the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH425“How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place” 

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