In Romans 3, Paul revealed that “all… are justified by Grace… in Jesus.”
And then he addressed the question, “Why be religious if we can’t boast?”
In Romans 5, Paul revealed that all “sinners… will be made righteous.”
And then he addressed the question, “So, why not sin, that Grace may abound?”
In Romans 8, Paul revealed that nothing “can separate us from the Love of God”
And now he addresses the question, “What about out our own will—our ‘free-will;’ what about Israel?”
In Romans 9:1, Paul writes, “I have wished that I myself be accursed from Christ for the sake of my brothers… the Israelites.” Then in 9:6, he writes, “But it is not as though the Word (Logos) of God has failed…”
And yet it does seem that He has: God spoke his Word, “let us make Adam in our image,” but we—Adam—are not good, we’re not finished, and it seems as if the Word of God did not accomplish that for which he was sent—just look at him; he’s hanging on a cross in a garden.
Romans 9:6: “But it is not as though the Word of God has failed, for not all [‘those’ or ‘that’] of Israel [‘are’ or ‘is’] Israel.” The moment I hear that, I find myself accessing knowledge of Good and evil, in order to draw a line between those in and those outside—a line between Good and evil.
When I was five, I heard my friend’s mom say “butt” and I immediately thought, “She’s evil, probably going to ‘[email protected],’ and ‘I can’t be Ray’s friend.”
I was a pastor’s kid, and in my house, “butt” was one of the unspeakable words.
The kids up the street said, “butt,” and the unspeakable potty word that starts with “sh.” And I thought “yep, they’re evil, probably going to ‘[email protected],’ and I drew a line between me and them—the line between good and evil. It’s important for children to gain the knowledge of Good and evil.
But every summer we’d go to my Grandpa’s farm, and he’d say, “’butt,’ ‘sh!+,’ and ‘God (condemn it) to [email protected]’” at least one time in each and every sentence. I wanted to draw that line between Good and evil between me and my Grandpa, but I had a problem: Grandpa loved me. In fact, he’d grab me, wrestle me onto his lap and just hug the “[email protected]” out of me.
Where do you draw the line between Good and evil?
Where did Jesus draw the line between Good and evil? In one breath he reveals that Peter is an oracle of God, and with the next, he says, “Get behind me Satan.”
In The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn writes, “Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts.”
Yet, Paul writes, “Not all of Israel is Israel.” He didn’t write “Not all Israelites are Israelites.”
It helps me to remember that Paul is thinking of a particular man named “Israel.”
In which case, saying “Not all of Israel is Israel,” is just like saying, “Not all of Peter is Peter.”
There is a True Peter and a False Peter; a New Peter and an Old Peter, just as there is a New Adam and an Old Adam, just as Paul has been teaching us.
There is Peter born of water and Peter born of the Spirit; there is the Peter that God has made and the Peter that Peter thinks he is making with his will and his exertion—his ego.
What if every bad decision in me is my will and exertion and every good decision in me is the will and exertion of God in me… even if it’s only the size of a seed?
Not all of Israel is Israel. And then Paul reveals that not all of Abraham is Abraham; not all the seed of Abraham is the Promised Seed—the Sacred Sperm—Isaac (“Laughter”). And then Paul reveals that not all of Isaac is Isaac—the promised seed that receives the blessing and birthright of the firstborn. “As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved and Esau (the firstborn) I hated (not ‘hate,’ but ‘hated’)” …which brings us back to Israel, for Israel is Jacob, at least until he wrestles the God/man, the Firstborn of all Creation, at the edge of the promised land, who wrestles the [email protected] out of Jacob, blesses him (with the birthright of the firstborn) and renames him “Israel.” Israel then meets Esau in the Promised Land and says, “seeing you is like seeing the face of God (whom he had just wrestled all night long.)”
And not only was Esau “hated.” Through Hosea the Prophet, God reveals that he began to “hate” the Israelites the moment they crossed the Jordan. Indeed Yahweh “hates… all evildoers… the proud” according to David.
According to Isaiah, he will burn Israel down to a stump, who is the Promised Seed.
He then comes to a peasant girl in the form of a Word: “Mary you are highly favored,” to which she responds, “Let it be done unto me according to thy Word.”
Mary is known by the Word and gives birth to the Christ—the Firstborn of all Creation.
The descendants of Israel, nail their brother, and king, to a tree in a garden.
He delivers up his Spirit. That Spirit begins to fall on all the nations of the world.
It’s the fulfillment of the Promise spoken to Abram, “I will bless you and in you (your seed), all the nations, all the peoples, all the families of the earth will be blessed.” That would include Egypt, Edom (the descendants of Esau), Israel, Judah, and even Judas, for Jesus descends into [email protected] and sets the captives free.
Israel is elected to be rejected in time, that Israel would know her election for all eternity.
Romans 9:16: “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.”
To prove his point, Paul quotes God’s words to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy.” And then writes “he has mercy on whomever he wills and he hardens whomever he wills (Romans 9:18).”
In other words, God is Absolutely Free and his Free Will is His Word.
So… on whom does God freely will to have mercy?
Romans 11:32:“He consigned all to disobedience (that’s a hard heart) that he might have Mercy (that’s His Heart, His Free Will, His Judgment, Our Lord Jesus) on all.”
Jesus, the free will of God, lifts his head on the tree in the garden and cries “Father, forgive them…”
And brace yourself: That’s not our choice; It’s His.
If this Seed has taken root in the soil of your heart, if it’s found its place in the womb or your soul, if you are free, then you will begin to look around for those that appear to be trapped by “[email protected],” or even in “[email protected]” and you’ll pray something like this: “Father, set me on fire with your love and send me there to be with them; send me to Grandpa wherever he is and if necessary, you can even send me in his place.”
At the start of chapter 9, far from rejoicing in the condemnation of his brothers, Paul claims to have been praying that he himself would be “anathema”—a devoted offering—from Christ for the Israelites. And it seems that God answered his prayers, for it wasn’t just Paul that was praying, but the Sacred Seed; it was Love incarnate in Paul.
The Israelites soon imprisoned Paul in Jerusalem and sent him to Rome for execution.
Paul did die for the Israel that flogged him, tortured him, and condemned him.
But now he is sitting at a banquet with all of them laughing in Freedom.
Romans 11:26:“In this way, all Israel will be saved” and v. 32 God will have “mercy on all.” If you don’t like it, too bad. God has free will. God is Love.