Sunday, January 25, 2015

God's promise of grace

“It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants.”  Romans 9:6-8 (NRSV)

The theme of Paul’s ministry is the simple statement, “Christ for all.”  In this scripture passage,  Paul so painstakingly makes it clear to the Gentiles that the promised Messiah is not only for the Jews.
The Jews identified themselves as flesh descendants of Abraham, and they were proud that God had promised that the Messiah would come to the descendants of Abraham.  If, as the Jews believe, that the Messiah is only for the flesh descendants of Abraham, then Paul argues that the Messiah must be for the descendants of Ishmael and Esau as well, because they also are descendants of Abraham.
However, God sent the Messiah through the descendants of the child that He promised to Abraham, Isaac.  God also promised to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars—an almost incomprehensible number.  God reckoned Abraham righteous because of his faith—not because of his lineage.   Most importantly, God promised Abraham that He would always be with him.
All of these promises, found in the Old Testament, point to a lineage of faith, not a lineage of flesh.  Paul wants us to understand that all of these promises point to the fact that God loves all people, not just the Jews.  God loves us, in spite of the evil in each of us, and He longs to draw us close to Him.  God longed for us so much that He sent Christ (through Isaac, the son promised to Abraham) to die on the cross so that we would have the opportunity to be with Him forever.   All of these promises point to the grace of God.