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She said she didn't like Paul...until this




A Look at Paul’s underbelly.  Romans 9.1-5


On Tuesday morning, while our little neighborhood Bible study group was meeting, I got distracted by the cutest thing out the window.. Somehow a squirrel had gotten himself up on our deck rail, standing on his hind legs, eating out of the bird feeder. Now squirrels eating birdseed is not unusual, but what I saw was---his underbelly had lateral stripes from top to bottom. I couldn't look away!


In our last Morning Briefing, we saw how plainly, how passionately Paul articulated the value of God’s love in his life . . . and that, no thing and no one would ever separate him (or us) from the unconditional, all-consuming love of God.  Reading further, I have to ask myself if Paul was crazy, as he now says he would be willing to forego his relationship with God  . . . IF it would mean that the Jewish people would come to saving faith in Christ. Let go of his relationship with Jesus Christ?  Let go of the unfailing love in which he trusted?  Yes. That is how much the salvation of the Jews meant to him!  


Embarking on chapters 9 through 11 is a whole different journey than where we've been.  As we turn the page to Romans chapter 9, you can see how Paul’s mood changed from one of joyous elation to furrowed brows and deep concern, exposing his tender underbelly.  History seems to indicate that Paul was dictating this letter . . . and you can almost see him, full of emotion and joy over God’s life-giving love, then shifting to worry about his Jewish brothers and sisters’ spiritual fate.  


Listen with me:

“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”


Wow!  Such love . . . such empathy.  And then Paul shifts to explain the ‘chosen-ness’ of the Jewish people by highlighting eight different elements God bestowed on them:

1.  “Theirs is the adoption to sonship” – they were children of God

‘You are the sons of the Lord your God.’  Deuteronomy 14.1


2.  “theirs the divine glory” – The splendor of light (glory) when God was visiting his people—which was recorded numerous times in the Old Testament.   Exous 16.10, et. al


3.  “the covenants” – Again and again, God pursued Israel to enter into agreements with her; ours is not a God who is far off.


4.  “the receiving of the law” – God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses; therefore, Israel could never plead ignorance about what the Lord expected of her.


5.  “the temple worship” – Through the Temple, God had given the Jews a direct route to himself.  Any distance was on the part of the people, not their God.


6.  “the promises” – God had made promises to Israel; he told them what was in store for them, so they knew their destiny.  They knew that God had great things planned for them.


7.  Theirs are the patriarchs” – The Jewish people had the tradition and history of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph . . . a rich heritage indeed!

       

8.  “and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!   Amen.” Romans 9.1-5

What shall we say then?  God sent Jesus through their bloodline.  Yea, the promises were fully culminated in the promised birth of the Messiah, prophesied by Isaiah some 700 years before his birth.  


Do you remember being a child and making your parent(s) angry?  It wasn’t a good feeling, and might have even put a little fear in you.  But do you ever remember hurting the heart of your mom or your dad?  Or, let someone else hurt your mom’s feelings?  And, man, you were ready to draw blood!  That is what we sense in Paul here—his heart hurt because the heart of God was broken over Israel’s spurning of his love.  And he hurt too as he thought of so many who would die without God. 


O, that our hearts would break with what breaks the heart of God!  ‘Never seen this side of Paul, now have you? The Commission: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APATH3ea-D0


Christine

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