Romans 9:25-29 God Calls a Remnant


There are times in a study of Paul’s writings when it seems that the apostle has lost track of his argument. It is because his thought is so rich and because he has the habit of moving on quickly from one connected thought to another, We have found this in chapters 5 through 8 of this letter, and we see it in Paul’s other writings too. That seems to be the case in the verses we have been studying from Romans 9. Has Paul lost track of his argument? We are wrong if we think so. For at the very end of this section, in verse 24, Paul in a masterful way comes back to the point from which he started out, stating that salvation is for those whom God has chosen and called, “not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles.”

Verse 24 is not only a return to the point at which Paul began, it is also a wrap-up of his first main argument showing why God has not been unfaithful to Israel or, to use the language he himself uses, why the Word or purposes of God have not failed. That means that verse 25, to which we come now, is beginning a new section of the argument. There are four quotations in verses 25-29, two from the minor prophet Hosea and two from the major prophet Isaiah. The passages from Hosea show the acceptability of the Gentiles. The passages from Isaiah show that the call to salvation has never included all Israel.

The Beatles once recorded a song called “Nowhere Man.” It grew out of a casual, dismissive remark one of them had made about somebody they’d just met. It was met as a scornful put-down, and if the person they were referring to had heard it, it would have hurt. The prophets knew all about giving people names and particularly about giving Israel names, names which reflected what God was thinking about them. The first two chapters of the prophet Hosea are full of this kind of thing, and Paul draws on two key promises from that passage. He quotes them in reverse order, beginning with Hosea 2:23, where the prophet declares to the Israelites that God will receive them back again after rejecting them. Then he quotes the earlier passage, Hosea 1:10.

What is Paul saying with these somewhat obscure, though clearly dramatic, quotations? Paul is continuing to tell the story of Israel, the story of Abraham and the other patriarchs, which continued through the Exodus, and which now reaches the period of the prophets. Paul’s point, made here in poetic fashion, is in essence quite simple: the prophets themselves promised that God would make Israel pass through a period of judgment in order then to come out into salvation. First Israel had to hear, and bear, the name “not My people,” before they could again be called “My people.”

Paul’s point, yet once more, is that God has indeed been faithful to His promises. He has not gone back on His Word. He said He would have to whittle Israel down to a remnant, and that’s what He has done. To imagine that Israel could be vindicated as it stood – that all Jews would automatically be classified as true “children of Abraham” – would be to ignore what Israel’s own Scriptures had been saying all along. The problem of Jewish unbelief is not, then, the problem of God failing to keep His Word, but the problem of Israel not hearing what that Word had been saying. All of this makes Paul’s chief point, namely, that God’s rejection of Israel as Israel and His election of the Gentiles should have taken nobody by surprise, particularly the Jews, since it was prophesied clearly in the Jewish Scriptures.

The point of the Hosea quotations is that God had announced in advance that He would save Gentiles. The point of the Isaiah quotations is that He had likewise announced that not all Jews, but only a remnant of Israel, would be converted. There is an interesting tie-in between Isaiah 10:22-23, the first of Paul’s quotations from Isaiah (v. 27), and Hosea 1:10, the second of his two quotations from Hosea, which was just given (v. 26). In chapter 1 of Hosea, verse 10 begins with the words “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand of the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted.” Paul does not quote those words in Romans 9:26, though he quotes the second half of the verse, because the words are about Israel explicitly and Paul wants to use the verse as a promise of God’s future blessing on the Gentiles. Those words remind Paul of the verse from Isaiah, which he cites next: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.” Do you see what this Isaiah verse is saying? Leaving the unbelief of the Gentiles aside for a moment, isn’t it true that Isaiah 10:22 describe the generally poor results and great difficulties of Jewish evangelism?

In Romans 9:27 the words “the remnant,” refer to the remnant of God’s electing choice, who will be saved. As for the rest, “The Lord will carry out His sentence on earth with speed and finality” (v. 28). That is, the rest will perish in God’s final judgments. Verse 29, the second of Paul’s two quotations from Isaiah, picks up from the second half of the first quotation, also referring to judgment. But this is a different kind of reference. The first quotation describes what is surely going to happen. This verse describes what is sometimes called “a condition contrary to fact.” It teaches that unless the Lord had left a remnant, the people would have been like those of Sodom and Gomorrah, that is, entirely wiped out. They would have ceased to exist. Yet this is not the case. If fact, God has left a remnant, which, as Paul is going to say in Romans 11, God has, “chosen by grace” (v. 5). Apart from the grace of God there will be destruction, fire from heaven! The only thing that keeps this from happening to all of us is the mercy and kindness of God. It is only because of the explicable grace of God that any of us are spared the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Romans 9:25-29 Reflection Questions:

How do verses 25-29 also emphasize Paul’s point that God is faithful to His promises to Israel?

How do these verses respond to the charge that God is not just?

God has to reshape Israel because of their failure to live out the purpose to which they had been called, just as a potter molds a lump of clay for his own ends. The church has also been called to a purpose in the world. What is that purpose and how well is the church living this out?

What needs to happen for your Christian community to live out its purpose more strongly?

Weekly Seed of Faith 10/26/20

Seed of Faith –  Broken Springs or Bubbling Wells  By Pastor Dave  

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

Dear Faithful and Fearless Seed-Sowers,
It is my prayer that we come to know the deep, deep love of God as we endure this pandemic.  I pray we grow in the outrageous grace of Jesus and that God uses you to go out into your world (your family, workplace, schools, neighborhood, community) sowing seeds of faith. If this world ever needed living water, it needs it today.

We are still sitting with Jesus and the woman at the well. Picture the scene. It’s high noon, it’s hot.

There is a gold mine of pearls of wisdom to glean from this story.  Read John 4:1-26 and let’s see what the Holy Spirit is speaking to us.

Last week, we spent our time looking at the woman at the well and her response to the surprise she had that a Jewish man would ask her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink.  We saw how surprised she was that Jesus knew everything about her yet still responded in love to her. Stop for a moment and ponder that probing thought.  Jesus knows everything about you and still responds with love to you! This very thought humbles me, how about you?

Listen again to Jesus’ words, “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”

This reminds of a passage that God gives to the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah. Listen to Jeremiah’s words found in chapter two, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth? Why then has he become plunder? Lions have roared; they have growled at him. They have laid waste his land; his towns are burned and deserted.” Jeremiah 2:13-15 The people have forsaken God, the spring of living water and have dug their own wells instead. Sounds familiar.

Broken Wells
Here we are at an old well, or cistern, where Jesus finds this Samaritan woman. So many of us are like this woman; we have been digging our own cistern for years and we return there daily. We have dug wells of fame and fortune, wealth and health, power and prestige, sexuality and sensuality, alcohol and drugs, sports and academia, politics and popularity. The truth we find here in this story is that the wells of this world will never fully satisfy.  The wells of this world will never be enough.  The wells of this world hold stagnant, sluggish, and muddy water.  We are like the people in Jeremiah’s time.  We have turned away from the one, true spring of living water and we have built our own wells. The world’s wells will never completely satisfy; they will always shout, “More!”

Here’s a crazy idea:  Does Jesus wants to meet you at your well? You know the well, well.  You go there often, if not every day. Take a look around. Is that Jesus sitting there? Waiting for you to offer Him a drink of your polluted spring? I ask you a second time, Does Jesus want to meet you there today? (Stop and ponder that question.)

Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.”   When Jesus says “everyone” the Greek word “pas” means “all, the whole, the total, anyone or anything.”  Jesus includes us all; He is not just speaking to one, outcast, Samaritan woman. Jesus is speaking to everyone, the total of all people who come to drink from the well. This means YOU and it means ME. All of us at some time in our life are drinking from a well that will never parch our thirst.

The Greek verb for “drinks” — “pino” is a present active verb which means that this action of us drinking is ongoing, unending, and continuous.  It makes great sense then that every single one of us has a well that we visit and drink from continuously. Jesus wants to give us a drink HIS well of living water. This water will quench our thirsty hearts, minds and souls. Maybe we should be thinking about it.

Everyone who drinks this water from this broken well will be thirsty — the word for “thirsty” — “depsesei” is a verb and it is in the future tense which means that we will be continually parched, thirsty, having strong desires.

What is that wakes you up with a strong desire?  What do you thirst for each day?

Jesus is telling us that if we will only ask Him for a drink, He will give us a drink of living water that will satisfy our desires. I don’t know about you but I can testify to the truth of this eternal, living water of Jesus Christ.

Bubbling Springs
“How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:7-9

Have you ever seen an artisan well?  The artisan well is a well or a spring that does not require a pump to bring water to the surface. The living water is continuously pumped to the surface because there is enough pressure contained within the aquifer to force the water to the surface without any sort of assistance. The water is alive.  The water is in never-ending supply.

The so what questions of the day are:
What well are you going to drink from? 
Will you drink from the broken wells of this world? 
Will you drink from the spring of living water that bubbles up to eternal life?

So What?
Jesus offers each one of us the same drink that He offered the Samaritan woman.

You know, Jesus could have shown up at the well at 6 a.m. when all the popular kids got their water, but he did not. Jesus went to the well in the heat of the day because Jesus knew there would be an outcast who was too ashamed to be seen at the well at 6 a.m. She was a sinner—she had lived with five different men—and was not married to the one she was living with now. And everyday she made the long trip to the well. Alone. Hot. Tired.

“All you have to do is ask me and I will give you living water, a spring of water welling up, an artisan well of water…and you will never be thirsty again.”  Please notice Jesus didn’t make her state her credentials. He simply said, “All you have to do is ask.” 

The choice is ours to make. Do we want to return to the wells we have dug in the heat of the day? Or are we thirsty enough to ask Jesus for living water?

I understand that we are living in unprecedented times. No one has canvassed this season and written a book about surviving COVID-19, the world-wide pandemic. There’s hundreds of thoughts and ideas out there for us to ponder; from the far right to the far left and all in between.

Here is what I know: (Grab your Bible and hold it up) This is an artisan well. Come here daily and drink your fill. I started reading my bible in October of 1997. I have not stopped. God’s word is new to me every morning. (Lamentations 3:22)  Every day when I open this book up, I am filled with hope, peace, insight and wisdom. During my 66 years on the planet, I have been to countless other wells. They have all left me thirsty.

This week I want you to be honest with yourself. Are you drinking from the well of living water or are you drinking from a polluted well?
John Ortberg has written a most excellent book (and a bible study dvd) entitled, “Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You.” Check it out. He gives a great illustration of how we are to go check out our stream, our wells. Are they clear and free? Or are they stagnant, filled with the trash of our life?

This is exactly what Jesus is saying to the Samaritan woman. “I don’t care who you are.  I don’t care where you’ve been. If you will simply ask Me, I will give you LIVING WATER.”

Her response is more than amazing! I hope ours is, too.

See you Sunday!

God loves you and so do I,
Pastor Dave

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Romans 9:22-24 The Patience of God


Romans 9:22-24 speak of five of God’s attributes: wrath, power, patience, glory, and mercy. Two of these have just been mentioned: power in verse16 and mercy in verses 15, 16, and 18. Two others, wrath and glory, were introduced earlier in the letter. The new and unexpected attribute in these verses is patience, which Paul declares has been shown to “the objects of His wrath – prepared for destruction.” The verses teach that God’s treatment of the wicked is neither arbitrary nor meaningless, but is intended rather to make His wrath, power, and patience known, just as, on the other hand, His treatment of those who are chosen to be saved displays His mercy. In both cases the glory of God is achieved by God’s exercising or making known these attributes.

God’s chief end is to glorify God. Therefore, since God is all-powerful, this end will certainly be achieved. It will be achieved in every detail of history and in the destiny of every individual. Every person who has ever lived or will ever live must glorify God, either actively or passively, either willingly or unwillingly, either in heaven or in hell. Your will glorify God. Either you will glorify Him as the object of His mercy and glory, which will be seen in you. Or you will glorify Him in your rebellion and unbelief by being made the object of His wrath and power at the final judgment. In fact, if you are rebelling, you are glorifying Him even now, because even now His patience is displayed in you by His enduring your sin for a time, rather than sending you to hell immediately, which you deserve. These verses teach that the patience of God is seen in His toleration of the wicked for a time.

We might think that God shows patience to the wicked only to allow the sins of such persons to accumulate so that He might more fully display His wrath and power in judging them at last. True, that is one purpose. It is what has been said of Pharaoh. God raised him up (even hardened his heart) so that the full measure of the divine power might be displayed in him and God’s name might be proclaimed in all the earth. But that is not the only purpose. The patience of God is also displayed so that those whom God is calling to faith might have space to repent. Both purposes are good. The second purpose is gracious.

There is another text that needs to be drawn into this composite picture of God’s patience as discussed in Paul’s writings, and that is 1 Timothy 1:15-16, in which Paul speaks in a very moving way of God’s unlimited patience to himself. He calls it a trustworthy saying. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.” What Paul is giving in these verses is a personal illustration of what he discusses doctrinally in Romans. Paul was aware that he had been chosen by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world. But he also remembered with sadness how he had been allowed to go his own self-righteous and wicked way for years until God called him.

Yet God was patient with Paul. Instead of striking him down, God suffered him to march along his own self-righteous path, heaping sin upon sin, until at last God called him to faith in the Jesus he was persecuting. God did it so the horror of Paul’s earlier conduct might form a more striking contrast to the grace, mercy, and glory of God that he afterward received. This isn’t just Paul’s story of course. It is the story of believers throughout history. How patient God was with Adam and Eve! Surely God was not willing for our first parents to perish but rather that they might come to repentance and find eternal life. In the New Testament, think of the believing thief who died on a cross at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. The man was a murderer as well as a thief. But God was patient with him, sparing him throughout a very long life of sin so that in the very last hours of his life he might demonstrate that grace can come even to the worst of men and in their final moments. Surely, “our Lord’s patience means salvation” (2 Pet. 3:15), and “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Rom. 2:4).

Has it led you toward repentance? Is it doing so now? Let us look at this matter through by these observations: (1) God is patient for a reason. If you are not in hell today, which you are not though you deserve to be, it is because God has been patient with you, and the purpose of His patience is to lead you to repentance. God’s patience is a great thing. We have explored some of its greatness in this study. But you must not abuse it. It is meant to do you good. The day of God’s patience is the day of His grace. (2) God will not be patient forever. Although God’s patience is great, it is not eternal. We are warned in Scripture that God’s wrath has been withheld by His patience, but that it is building up like waters behind a great dam and that it will one day be poured forth. God’s patience leads to repentance, but you must still repent. You must believe on Jesus. If you do not, you will face God’s judgment in the end, however much you may scoff at it now. (3) Because God is patient, we should be patient. The word patience is found in reference to God only three times. But here is the interesting thing: It is found as a virtue to be cultivated by Christians six times, that is twice as often as in reference to God. It is a fruit of the Spirit, and it is commended as a virtue in the Christian ministry. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, perhaps this is the application for you. We tend to be impatient with other people, especially with those we are trying to win to Christ. But God is patient, and we should be also.

There are four other attributes of God in verses 22-24. Wrath is one, but we are not called upon to show wrath. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). Power is another, but God and not ourselves who must show power. Even glory is not for us to demonstrate. But we can show mercy. We are to be merciful people, remembering how God has been merciful to us. And above all, we can be patient. It is not easy to be patient, but let us try to be. And the God who is Himself patient may use our patience to draw many hurting people to the Savior.

Romans 9:22-24 Reflection Questions:

When was the last time you shared your personal testimony about God’s patience in your life?

What are some examples from the Old Testament and the New Testament of God’s patience?

Is there any way that God could have revealed the riches of His mercy and glory, exercised His sovereign choice in all this, and still leaves each of us responsible for his own decisions (free will) regarding God?  Explain how man’s free will and God’s predestination could work together.