An exposition of Romans 9: 1-5
[* Supplied by the SOVEREIGN GRACE ADVENT TESTIMONY.]
David Baron was a Jew well trained in Hebrew religion, culture and literature. After his conversion to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Messiah he became a greatly respected Bible teacher sharing his unique insight of the Scriptures with his fellow Christians as well as exercising an effective missionary influence among his own people.
Although the address, amplified in this booklet, was given early in the twentieth century, its message is still relevant and applicable today.
May this exposition of the “gifts and calling of God which are without repentance”, stir the hearts of Christians to praise the Lord for His unchanging Covenants of God, and quicken interest for the people still “beloved for the fathers’ sakes”.
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.”
* * *
THE APOSTLE’S YEARNING
“For I could wish that I myself were anathema from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Rom. 9: 3).
From the height of blessedness to which the Apostle gradually leads us in the first or doctrinal section of the Epistle, culminating as it does in the triumphant “No condemnation” and “No separation” to “them that are in Christ Jesus,” we are here at the commencement of the dispensational, or prophetic section of the Epistle, almost abruptly brought down into a vale of sorrow, and we hear the Apostle speak of “great heaviness and uninterrupted sorrow in his heart.”
And if the question be
asked, Why this sudden descent from the mountain-top of blessedness? could not
the Apostle have spared us the knowledge and the sorrow of this dispensational
section of the Epistle, and have taken up the thread of his argument with the
practical section which begins with the 12th chapter? the answer is
No! For their own good the Apostle could not leave Gentile
believers in ignorance of the mystery of God with
The teaching imparted in this section of the Epistle - which was written for the express purpose of instructing Gentile believers about Israel - is not only salutary but absolutely needful, and though in the course of our study of these chapters, if our hearts be filled with the compassion of Christ, we too shall be filled with sorrow in contemplating Israel’s present condition, yet we too are sure in the end to emerge with the Apostle with the triumphant, adoring exclamation, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” And our gain in the process will consist of enlarged views of God’s character and a better understanding of God’s ways - and to the Christian there is no greater gain.
The first five verses of the 9th chapter form the introduction to this section of the Epistle, which consists of Chapters 9, 10 and 11, and in these verses the Apostle Paul, before proceeding to vindicate the ways of God in His governmental dealings with Israel and the nations, stops to express his own sorrow and deep sympathy for that nation, which, though in the purpose of God exalted so high, is at present, through unbelief, fallen so low.
“I say the
truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy
Ghost.” By this solemn asseveration the Apostle
wants, not only to impress us with the sincerity and truthfulness of his sorrow
and sympathy for
He says, “I have great heaviness (or “I have great grief”) and uninterrupted
pain in my heart.” The Apostle had
indeed drunk deeply of the Spirit of his Divine Master, our Lord Jesus, who for
our sakes became “a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief”, who was ever moved to compassion when He beheld the multitude of
We may pause for a
moment at this second verse, and ask ourselves, “How
did this Divine sympathy, this Spirit-inspired grief, operate in his heart?” It impelled him first of all to earnest
prayer and intercession on
“Brethren,” he exclaims, at the beginning of the 10th chapter,
“my heart’s desire and prayer to God for
But he not only prayed
for them - his divinely given sympathy for
But even all his labours
and all his prayers did not fully express his yearning love and desire for
“The wish,” says Dean Alford, “is evidently not to be pressed as entailing on the Apostle the charge of inconsistency in loving his nation more than his Saviour. It is the expression of an affectionate and self-denying heart, willing to surrender all things, even, if it might be, eternal life itself, if thereby he could obtain for his beloved people these blessings of the Gospel which he now enjoyed, but from which they were excluded ... Others express their love by professing themselves ready to give their life for their friends; he declares the intensity of his affection by reckoning even his spiritual life not too great a price if it might purchase their salvation.”
In this respect there
are two men in the history of
And remember, my dear
friends, that the man who gives us this glimpse into the intensity of his
heart’s love and yearning for
And yet, all through, and to the end, not only had he no inclination or desire to “accuse his nation” before the Gentiles (Acts 28: 19), but he never ceased to love them and to yearn for them. Truly such love sprang from no mere natural or human source, but was part of that wonderful, everlasting, unchangeable love of Jehovah toward the children of Israel, which even all their many sins and apostasies could never quench, and was drawn by the Apostle from the great heart of his Divine Master, who wept over Jerusalem, and who, even on the cross, prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
And it is only in this same spirit of a love which never faileth, and of Christ-like compassion, that we too shall be able to persevere in our prayers and in our efforts for the salvation of gainsaying, disobedient Israel, else we shall soon turn away from them discouraged if not embittered, as has been the case, alas! with some who began well, but whose knowledge of this peculiar people has been shallow, and whose interest did not rest on the deep-enough basis of an intelligent understanding of God’s will and purposes, and was not impelled by the all-constraining love of Christ, which alone can prevail.
“A parallel case,” as Dr. Adolph Saphir observed in one of his
last addresses on this subject, “is this: Jesus asks Peter, ‘Lovest thou Me?’ then He says, ‘Feed My
It is not love to the sheep that will sustain Peter in feeding
them. It is the fact that they are
Christ’s sheep. It is not because the
sheep are lovable that his interest in them will continue. It is because Christ is lovable. Likewise, unless you believe that
To return to the
Apostle’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his nation, I would remind you
that neither a Paul nor a Moses, nor even an archangel, could suffice for the
redemption of the people, or of even one soul in
Yes, it was necessary, not on the ground of human “expediency,” as Israel’s apostate high priest expressed it; but because of a Divine necessity, springing from the eternal principles of God’s moral government of the world, that the Christ Himself “should die for the people, that the whole nation perish not” (John 11: 49-52).
And Jesus did die
for that nation, and in that great and wonderful fact rests the certainty of
* * *
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
“Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but
The chief reasons of the
Apostle’s interest in and love for
The first is expressed
in the words, “who are Israelites.”
This is the name of honour given by God to Jacob. It is, I may say, the ideal and prophetic name of
Let me remind you of
that mysterious transaction recorded in Gen. 32:
22-32. In “that night”, in anticipation
of his meeting with his brother Esau, when his heart was full of anxiety and
fear, Jacob, after taking his family and all he had over the brook Jabbok, “was left alone, and there wrestled a man with him
until the breaking of the day. And when
He (this mysterious man) saw that He prevailed not against him, He touched the
hollow of his thigh: and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint as He
wrestled with him. And He said, Let Me
go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I
will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me, And He said unto him, What is thy
name? And he said, Jacob. And He said, Thy name shall be called no more
This historical incident
forms at the same time one of the most beautiful parables of God’s present and
future dealings with
And it is still the “Jacob” period of
What are all God’s dealings with them as a people? What are these chastisements - the various strokes which they receive in this their night of sorrow? Are they not all God’s wrestling’s with them, with a view to bringing this national Jacob to an end of himself. But we read that Jacob withstood, even as the nation withstands now, until, finally, before the breaking of the morning - in the last dark hour of the dark night of which we read in the prophetic Scriptures - in that final sorrow and “great tribulation” which is to come upon them, Jacob’s thigh shall finally be out of joint; and then all that they shall be able to do will be to cleave to Him, the Mighty One, and say, “We cannot - we will not - let Thee go, except Thou bless us.” And then, having been overcome, they shall be overcomers.
In Hosea 12: 3, 4, we have light thrown on this mysterious transaction. There we read that Jacob, “by his strength had power with God; yea, he had power over the angel and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spake with us;” from which we see, not only the true character of the mysterious “Man” who wrestled with him that night, that He was none other than the Divine Angel of the Covenant, in and through whom all the theophanies of the Old Testament took place - the Eternal Son of God, who in the fulness of time became flesh and dwelt among us, that men may behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; but we are also let into the secret as to how Jacob after he was first of all prevailed over, had power with God and over the Angel, “and prevailed.” “He wept and made supplication unto Him.” He wept over his past - over the corruption of his nature and the crookedness of his life, which he confessed when he said, “My name is Jacob”; and he “made supplication” for pardon and grace and for the power of a new life when he clung to the Angel, saying, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.”
This is how Jacob became
This is how we, too, may become spiritual Israelites. My friends, have we all passed through such an experience? Have we confessed and wept over our past, and by faith laid hold on God’s strength and made supplication unto Him, saying, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me”? Then we know what conversion means; then only do we know the meaning of that word, “for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
And that is how the
whole Jewish people shall at last enter into the meaning of the name “
And this sorrow and weeping will be accompanied by supplications and by a clinging in faith to the promises of God – “But now, 0 Lord, Thou art our Father: we are the clay and Thou our Potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand. Be not wroth very sore, 0 Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever; behold, see, we beseech Thee, we are all Thy people.” “Turn us again, 0 Jehovah, God of Hosts, cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved” (Isa. 64: 8, 9; Psa. 80: 19).
Then it is that “worm Jacob” shall become “
It is interesting to observe that the Apostle himself was proud of the name “Israel” – “Are they Israelites?” he says, “so am I” – “for I also am an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin”: and truly he knew from experience the full significance of the name, for, after the persecuting Saul, who had so long resisted Christ, had been conquered and turned into Paul, he became a true prince among men, having in a measure, even unsurpassed by prophets and apostles, “power with God and with men, and prevailing.”
* * *
The second of the
irrevocable gifts or privileges included in Israel’s high calling of God, as
enumerated by the Apostle in this scripture, is expressed in the words, “To whom pertaineth the adoption,” or more
literally, “the sonship.” At the very beginning of their
national history, when God sent Moses to bring them out of
Thus Jehovah avouched
them in a special sense as His peculiar people - His firstborn from among the
nations; and all His subsequent self-revelations to them, and all His dealings
with them, were designed to teach them what is implied in this blessed
relationship; what it means in the spirit and in truth to pronounce the word “Abba.” Hitherto, though
One of the most pathetic
complaints of God against
Then follow those wonderful words which give us a glimpse into the yearning and love of His heart for His people, and show us His longing that they should at last understand and enter experimentally into the relations in which He stood to them according to His covenants and promises: “Wilt thou not from this time (Wilt thou not now at last) cry unto Me, Abi (‘my Father’) - Thou art the Guide of my youth”? The word “alluph,” translated here “guide,” is the same as in Prov. 2: 17: where it is used of the “strange” adulterous woman who forsaketh “the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God” - a truer rendering, however, of which would be: “Who forsaketh the mate, or friend (or husband), of her youth”; and so, by this act, forgetteth or breaketh the covenant of her God.
Now these were the two
great and blessed relationships into which God had entered with his people -
that of a father to his son, and that of a husband to his wife. In both of these
It is beautiful to note
in that same third chapter of Jeremiah, where, in the second part, a glimpse is
given us of the future - when
Not yet has Israel as a nation apprehended that for which they were apprehended of God: not yet has the people as a whole responded to their high calling and looked up to the God of heaven and earth, crying, “My Father.” But to them pertaineth the huiothesia - the sonship, and in the end Jehovah has pledged Himself to bring them, actually and experimentally, into this blessed relationship.
“And I said” - it is His irrevocable purpose – “ye shall call Me, Abi” - for He who has called them to be “His son, His firstborn,” will pour the spirit of adoption - the spirit of filial fear and of love into their hearts, so that they shall be obedient children and shall “no more turn away from following after Him.”
So also that other near and precious relationship of the Bride to the Bridegroom, or of the Wife to the Husband, to which Israel was called, shall yet become an actual experimental reality in their history; for after Israel repents of her past unfaithfulness and returns to her “first (or lawful) husband” (Hosea 2), we read: “Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken, neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate; but thou shalt be called ‘My Delight is in her,’ and thy land ‘Married;’ for Jehovah delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy Builder* marry thee; and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee” (Isa. 62: 4, 5).
* An ancient alternative reading for “thy son.” The word for “son” and “builder” is the same in Hebrew.
Meanwhile, during this period of Israel’s unfaithfulness and disobedience, there is a remnant according to the election of grace from that nation, and a people taken out for His Name from among the Gentiles, who enter into the enjoyment of those very “gifts,” or high privileges, to which Israel was called. To us too, if we be Christ’s, belongeth the huiothesia - the sonship – “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of sonship, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8: 14-16).
I was asked not long ago by a prominent evangelist, the meaning of the repetition of the word “Father” in this passage, and also in Gal. 4: 6. There is meaning and beauty in it. “Abba” is, of course, the Hebrew for “Father”; and Ho Pater, which immediately follows, is the Greek for the same word: and the repetition in the two languages is in keeping with the character of the Church in this dispensation, in which there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, who, through Christ, have access together by One Spirit unto the Father; for the same Holy Spirit which creates in the believing Israelite the spirit of sonship and teaches him to cry in his language, “Abba” fulfils the same blessed mission in the heart of the Greek believer - the Greek standing in the New Testament as the representative of the Gentiles - and teaches him to cry in his language, Ho Pater.
* * *
THE SHEKINAH GLORY AND THE
“The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night departed not from before the people.” (Ex. 13: 22).
“Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.” (Ez. 16: 60).
The third of the “gifts” enumerated in our Scripture as constituting part of Israel’s high calling of God, is expressed in the words, “and the glory.” This, of course, refers to the glory of the personal Presence of Jehovah in their midst, which distinguished and separated Israel from all other peoples (Ex. 33: 16) - that wonderful Shekinah, the visible symbol of which was the cloud of glory and pillar of fire, which went before them in all their wilderness experiences, and which never utterly left them, in spite of all their frowardness and sins; the glory which in the Tabernacle and in the first Temple dwelt between the cherubim, as the visible demonstration of His covenant relations with that people.
Well may their great lawgiver exclaim, in view of this special relationship of Jehovah to His people, “Happy” (or, “oh, how happy,” or “blessed”) “art thou, 0 Israel: who is like unto thee, 0 people saved by Jehovah, the Shield of thy help, and who is the Sword of thy excellence” – “for ask now of the days that are past which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other where hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire as thou hast heard, and live? or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation by temptations, by signs and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that Jehovah your God did for you?” (Deut. 33: 29;4: 32-34).
At present, and ever
since the commencement of “the times
of the Gentiles” with the Babylonian captivity, the glory has departed from
Israel, and since then the
word “Ichabod” is written over their whole history.
“Where is the glory?” - their land is laid waste, their
The same prophet, Ezekiel, who in the earlier chapters of his prophecy describes the slow, reluctant departure of the glory of Jehovah from the midst of His people, sees also its return from the same direction from which he saw it depart - a vision, this, of the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, when His blessed “feet” shall “in that day” stand again “upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.”
But when the glory of the personal Presence of Jehovah-Jesus shall thus be revealed so that all flesh may see it together, even as the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken - Israel and Jerusalem will again be the centre of it, and the word will yet go forth: “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitress of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee” (Isa. 12: 6). Not till then, not till “out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God doth shine,” will the ancient promise be fulfilled, that the glory of Jehovah shall cover this earth even as the waters cover the sea: “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples, but Jehovah shall rise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, and (then) nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isa. 60: 1-3). Truly great and wonderful is the “gift,” or privilege, expressed in the words, “theirs is the glory.”
“And the Covenants.” - This is the fourth item in the summary of the “gifts and calling” which God irrevocably bestowed upon the chosen nation; and at the remembrance of it the Psalmist may well sing:
“Glory ye in His Holy Name;
Let the heart of them rejoice that seek Jehovah, ...
He remembers His covenant for ever,
The word which He commanded to a thousand generations –
Which (covenant) He made with Abraham.
And His oath unto Isaac;
And confirmed the same unto
Saying, Unto thee I will give the
The lot of your inheritance.”
(Ps. 105: 3-12.).
Yes, this covenant with Abraham. still stands, and will “to a thousand generations,” for it was absolute and unconditional, and was renewed again and again to Isaac and to Jacob, and confirmed by oath by the God who cannot lie, and who pledged His own existence for its certain fulfilment. And one chief item guaranteed in this covenant is Israel’s ultimate permanent possession of “the land of Canaan as the lot of their inheritance,” so that we may confidently look forward to the certain fulfilment of it, in spite of those who, in opposition to God’s promise and oath, boldly deny that the Jews ever will be restored, or that there is a national future for Israel at all.
But it is not only that one unconditional everlasting covenant which He made with Abraham, and which He renewed to Isaac and Jacob, that the Apostle has in his mind. “Theirs are the covenants,” he says - for all the covenants which God, in His great condescension, made with man since Abraham, were made with them, and primarily belong to them.
Christians sometimes speak of the Jews as the “people of the Old Covenant,” in contradistinction to themselves as the people of “the New Covenant”; but we have only to turn up the original records of the new covenant to see that, nationally, God did not make this covenant with the English, or French, or Germans, or Russians; but “the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah”: (Jer. 31: 31-34).
It is true that, as individuals, men of all nations are, through their
union with our Lord Jesus Christ, grafted on to the olive tree of Israel’s
covenanted mercies, and, together with the remnant of the nation, even now partake
of the root and fatness of the Jewish olive tree - thus anticipating the time
when “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11: 26). But this inclusion of Gentile believers who
were formerly “aliens from the commonwealth of
* * *
THE LAW-GIVING AND THE
SERVICE OF GOD
“Thou camest down also upon
and commandments.” (Neh. 9: 13).
The next step in the
gradation of the great “gifts” which God bestowed upon
“The Law-giving” - oh, what a wonderful event that was in the history of the world and of Israel, when Jehovah came forth from Sinai and burst forth (as the rising sun) from Seir unto them, when He shined forth from Mount Paran, and came with myriads of His holy ones, bringing in His right hand a fiery law unto them (Deut. 33: 2). What a light that was which then, for the first time, shone upon the moral darkness of this earth! True, it was not, nor was it meant to be, “the Light of Life.” Much more did it become by reason of sin, and our innate corruption which it reveals - a consuming fire and the minister of death. Yet it was “glorious” (2 Cor. 3: 7), for it was a revelation of God’s holiness and a perfect transcript of His holy will. It was also a necessary precursor of the Light of Life, and was meant to be our school-master unto Christ; that is, to teach us our need of a Saviour, and to set us longing for the redemption to be accomplished by Him.
One is often grieved at the ignorant use and popular perversion of a beautiful scripture. I refer to the Apostle’s saying, “For the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Cor. 3: 6), which is often quoted by some as an excuse for a disregard of the literal sense, or even for a destructive handling of the letter of Scripture. But the Apostle plainly uses the term “letter” for the law - the letter “written and graven in stones;” and, my friends, this “letter” - this wonderful revelation of God’s absolute holiness and of the requirements of His holy government - is meant to kill us, and must kill us, before the Spirit can come and give us life. “The Lord killeth and maketh alive; He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich. He bringeth low, and lifteth up.”
That is ever His process, and there is no other way: and if, by the revelation of His holiness and your own inability and innate corruption, you have not, like Paul, been brought to an end of yourself, and to cry, “0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” if the Law of God has not, like a two-edged sword, pierced and broken your heart, you do not know the full sweetness and preciousness, and the life-giving power of the Gospel.
“And the Giving of the Law” - and the greatness and beauty of this wonderful “gift,” which constitutes part of Israel’s high calling, will not be fully manifest till, in the millennial period, the Law is put in their inward parts, and written on their hearts when the final end, which God had in the “Law-giving” - namely, that His people may be holy, because He is holy - shall be accomplished, and the earth shall see, for the first time in its history, a whole nation upon whose life, and conduct, and possessions, shall be written, “Holiness to Jehovah.”
Together with “the Giving of the Law”, the Apostle names “the service of God” as the next step
in the gradation of
This richly symbolical and beautiful “Service of God” may be said to constitute “the Gospel in the Law,” for it already pointed the way how a man who stood condemned and separated from God by the moral law, could yet draw near to Him - namely, on the ground of shed blood, and by the ministry and intercessions of the high priest; and in reference to the future it is probable that, by the temporary restoration of a modified form of this Divinely-appointed “Service of God,” which is forecast in the prophetic Scriptures, Israel shall yet teach the spared of the nations the deep significance of their ancient types, and open to them the fulness and manifoldness of the atoning work of their Messiah.
“The Service of God”: I would only add that it is not recorded in the Mosaic writings, and described with such minuteness of detail for our imitation now, as some ignorantly think, who seek to set up an unauthorised human mimicry of Israel’s Divinely-appointed ritual in the Tabernacle and Temple, and thereby pervert the simplicity of the Gospel and of Christian worship; but it is recorded for our study, that we may perceive the spiritual significance of these types and shadows, and learn more and more the fulness which dwells for us in Christ who is the sum and substance of it all.
* * *
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” (Rom. 15: 8).
Promises.” This constitutes another of God’s great and
irrevocable “gifts” to
Now, on this point,
especially professing Christendom, and many true Christians even in Protestant
countries, have through ignorance been at variance with the Apostle and with
the clearly revealed mind of God. The general
belief of Christians for many centuries has been that the promises made to
The attitude of such Christians in relation to the Jews has been humorously illustrated by that prominent Jewish witness for Christ, the late Joseph Rabinowitch, in the following story: During the last Russo-Turkish war, after a great battle, a certain number of men in a particular regiment were returned in the list as dead, and an officer with a company of soldiers was commissioned to attend to the sad duty of seeing them decently buried.
While engaged in this task, they came across a poor man who was badly wounded, and left on the field for dead, but who had life enough in him to refuse to be buried. But the amusing part of the business was that the officer in command seemed very much perplexed. He asked the poor man’s name, looked at his list, and then said, “Well, I do not know what to do with you; in my list you are put down as dead.” This, Mr. Rabinowitch said, is the attitude of many Christians in relation to the Jew.
In their political and
religious creeds, the Jews as a nation are put down as dead, and even many true Christians, when reading
in the Scriptures the exceeding great and precious promises which God made to
Israel, say, “Oh yes, Israel - that is a nation that
once lived, but died some nineteen centuries ago, when they rejected Christ,
and now ‘Israel’
means no longer Israel, but the Church which has entered into their inheritance.” But
When the Apostle Paul wrote these words, Israel had already rejected Christ, and it was on that account that he pours out the great sorrow and uninterrupted pain of his heart, yet - and this is one great purpose he had in writing these three chapters - he proceeds to show how that, though all men be liars, God abides faithful, and that His gifts and calling of Israel (in spite of all that has happened) are “without repentance” or a change of mind on His part.
Therefore, it is with design that he says, not that they were Israelites, and that to them belonged the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the service of God, and the promises: but who are Israelites, and that theirs still are all these gifts which constitute their high calling, for God hath not cast off the people which He had foreknown; and though the majority of many generations of Israel may exclude themselves through unbelief from the enjoyment of these great privileges, they are reserved in the purpose of God against the time when “all Israel shall be saved,” and when, through Christ, they shall experience nationally what we now experience individually, that all the promises of God, “how many soever they be,” and whether relating to spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, or to national and “temporal” blessings in earthly places in Canaan - “in Him is the yea” of verification, “and through Him also is the Amen” of response and of experience “to the glory of God through us” (2 Cor. 2: 20).
Meanwhile, far from the death of our Lord Jesus being the occasion for the cancelling or annulling of the promises made to Israel, the Apostle assures us that “Christ was made a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God that He might confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Rom. 15: 8); and since they have been ratified with His own precious blood, they have been made doubly sure, and can never fail.
I am speaking to Christians, and do not want to be misunderstood. I believe that there is not a promise in reference to spiritual blessing which the least and weakest believer in Christ may not apply and enjoy as if uttered to himself, and (as I said elsewhere) remember that in all His words and acts to Israel the heart of Israel’s God is opened up to you, whoever you may be, who have learned to put your trust under the shadow of His wings. For this God is your God for ever and ever - the Father of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who wants you to learn from His infinite grace and faithfulness to His unworthy Israel that His faithfulness to you, too, can never fail.
But what you must learn to know, dear Christian reader, is that your inclusion into promises made to Israel in no way alters the meaning and force of the words as primarily uttered to that nation, and that you can be no gainer, but rather much of a loser, by the so-called spiritualising, or phantomising, method of interpreting Scripture, by which “Zion”, “Israel”, “Jerusalem,” etc., are explained to mean the “Church,” or “heaven” - a method which is largely responsible for the fact that the Bible, especially the prophetic Scriptures, has become a sealed book to the majority of professing Christians, who in consequence become an easy prey to every wind of false doctrine, or to the specious rationalism in relation to God’s Word which now, alas! permeates the Churches.
are the promises,” and not one thing that God spake will ever fail – “For thus saith Jehovah, like as I brought all this
great evil upon this people (and so literally fulfilling all the
threatenings and curses which He had uttered against them), so will I bring upon them all the good that I promised them.” “We will turn
again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities, and Thou
wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. THOU WILT PERFORM THE TRUTH UNTO JACOB, AND THE
MERCY TO ABRAHAM, WHICH THOU HAST SWORN UNTO OUR FATHERS FROM THE DAYS OF OLD.” And then, when Jehovah “hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the
* * *
WHOSE ARE THE FATHERS, AND OF
WHOM IS CHRIST
“As touching the election they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.” (Rom. 11:28).
“Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matt. 1: 1.).
We are now approaching
the climax in the gradation of the great “gifts” and high privileges which are parts of
Think of the company of
I am reminded of an
amusing incident which happened a few years ago. A clergyman who was much interested in the
Jews was spending his summer holiday in a small out-of-the-way place in
Schleswig-Holstein. Being anxious to
create an interest in God’s people, he gathered a number of the peasants
together one day and gave them an address, in the course of which he reminded
them of their obligations as Christians to the Jewish people. He spoke of
At this point he was
interrupted by one of the peasants, who stood up at the end of the room and
said, “I beg your pardon, sir, this is a mistake:
Jesus Christ had twelve apostles, but only one was a Jew, and that was Judas.” I fear that poor ignorant peasant gave
expression to the practical thought of multitudes in Christendom. They remember Judas, and readily associate
him with the Jewish people; but they forget that Peter and Andrew, and James
and John, and Philip and Bartholomew, and Paul and Nathanael, and all the other
apostles were also men of
Alas! there are still Judases among the Jews as there are among the Gentiles, and they are sometimes to be found even among the professed followers and “apostles” of Christ; but, blessed be God, there are also still those who answer to John - disciples whom Jesus loves, and Nathanaels to whom He Himself bears witness: “Behold Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guile;” and Pauls and Apollos - men “mighty in the Scriptures,” and faithful ministers of the truth, who have instructed many, not only of their own nation, but among the Gentiles.
We now reach the climax
of this wonderful gradation. All the
previous steps have linked
I do not expect love or
interest for the Jewish people from those who know not and love not
Christ. I am not surprised at the
anti-Semitism which is to be found among so-called Christian nations who have become apostate from the truth,
and who have turned the grace of God into lasciviousness; but I do wonder
that there should be true Christians without any love or sympathy for
“Of whom, as concerning the flesh, is Christ,” but the Babe which was born in Bethlehem is none other than He “whose goings forth are from of old, even from the days of eternity” (Mic. 5: 2), and the “Son of Man” and “Son of David” is none other than the eternal Son of God - the Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Jehovah-Tsidkenu, who, according to His Divine nature, is “God over all, blessed for ever.” To Him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory everlasting. Amen.