6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.
10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls;)
12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Last week we looked at the first question Paul might have been asked as he explained the method and dimensions of God’s eternal purpose. That was, “Was Paul not concerned about the Jews?” This week as we continue our study of Romans, we come to the second question, “Why has Israel been set aside so the Gentiles could be grafted in!”
This question brings up more questions and those questions are about God. Those questions or doubts about God spring from the fact that Paul and others preached about the promised and long awaited Messiah. Over and over the Jews, Israel, had been promised that their Messiah would bring blessings to them individually and nationally. Now Paul was telling them that they had been set aside so those unclean Gentiles could be called and grafted in. Did that mean that God was unfaithful? Did that mean that God’s Word had failed? Paul answers those questions from this point in his letter to the end of chapter 10.
We will begin with a few verses this week. Specifically in verse 6 Paul tells us that God’s Word can be believed. …not as though the word of God has no effect…In other words there is no contradiction between where Israel is now and those promises of God. The distinction or reason is given in the last part of 6. There is a separation or division: …they are not all Israel which are in Israel. Some are now chosen and some are not chosen. Those that are chosen now are a remnant. A remnant is a piece or part of the whole but is not the whole.
A common and probably misunderstood by Israel, promise of God was that at some future time Gentiles would be chosen by God. This would be the time Paul wrote of as a “mystery” which was a mystery because it had not been revealed by God. Paul explained that it was no longer a mystery because it had been revealed that the wall of separation between Israel and Gentiles has been broken down and there were no longer two people but one. This is known as the time in which we now live: the church age.
In verses 7-13 Paul gives two illustrations that the Jews could understand because they were part of Israel’s history. The first illustration featured the father of the nation of Israel, Abraham and his wife, Sarah. We cannot dismiss one key fact about Abraham: he was chosen and called by God from among the thousands who lived at that time in Ur of the Chaldees, which became Babylon. Why was Abraham chosen instead of someone else? That was God’s business because Abraham fit God’s purpose. Paul uses Abraham to validate God’s election as if it needed validation.
Since Abraham is the father of Israel and of the faithful, are all of his children chosen? “No”, Paul infers to justify or explain why not all of Israel has been chosen for redemption in the church age. Abraham had at least two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. God chose Isaac to be the child of promise and to continue the building of the nation of Israel. This is known as “election.” Was that fair to Ishmael? Fairness has nothing to do with it. Ishmael’s life and choices proved the wisdom of God in His election of Isaac.
The second illustration, which was a factual item in Israel’s history, was two of Isaac’s sons: Jacob and Esau. These were twin boys with Esau being the older one as he was born first. He should have gotten the birthright as the elder son. However, Jacob was chosen by God to continue the building of the nation of Israel. Paul appealed to the knowledge of Israel’s history by the Jews that they would agree that God chose Sarah prior to the birth of Isaac that her son would be the chosen one. Also part of Israel’s history revealed that God also chose Jacob before either he or Esau was born.
So we see that election or being chosen has nothing to do with: (1) ancestry; (2) seniority; (3) good works. So, why are those who are chosen or the elect actually chosen? Election is based entirely on the one doing the election: God. His election or the salvation of sinners is not based on anything external to God but is based on His choice within Himself. This does not make God irrational, arbitrary, whimsical or unfaithful. We can be sure He has reasons for His choices and those reasons have not been fully revealed at this time.