Election – God does what is Impossible with Man
Doctrines that are Biblical always have a sanctifying and growth-producing impact in the lives of believers (John 17:17). Such is the case with the seemingly difficult doctrine of election. The Apostle Paul uses this doctrine in Romans 9, not to merely discuss a difficult doctrine, but to demonstrate how God is powerful and faithful even in the midst of the rejection of Israel. Paul’s overall point is this: God’s promise to save, namely in election, will always endure. He demonstrates two proofs of this in Romans 9:6-13.
- God’s Elective Promise is Greater than the Rejection of Men (Rom 9:6)
From the Jewish Christian’s perspective, God’s Old Testament promises to Israel appeared to have failed. The word translated “failed” suggests a picture of a ship going off course and hitting rocks (Acts 27:17).Had God’s Word been driven off course by Israel’s rejection of Jesus the Messiah? Can man frustrate the plan of God and drive it off course by refusing to believe the Word of God? Why hadn’t the Word of God failed? Paul said, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). This short sentence is of paramount importance. As far as God is concerned, there are two kinds of Jews: physical and spiritual.To relieve the anxiety of those who questioned God’s integrity in keeping His promises to Israel, Paul was pointing out that the salvation promises God made to Israel are going to be ultimately fulfilled not for physical Jews, but for spiritual Jews.In spite of the fact that the majority of Jewish people rejected the gospel, God could be faithful in keeping His promises to Israel because these promises were never intended for every single Jewish person. They were intended for a select group of Jewish individuals within the nation who were true believers. The Bible refers to these true Israelites as the “remnant” (Romans 9:27; 11:1–5).By teaching the principle of a true Israel within a national Israel—a chosen few within the whole—Paul was implying the doctrine of election. Teaching this principle, Paul touched upon a sensitive nerve. When Jesus told the religious leaders of Israel that Abraham wasn’t their father, they struck out in anger by calling Him a Samaritan and a demoniac (John 8:48). Therefore, in anticipation of his readers’ strong reaction to the doctrine of election, Paul took them to their own Scriptures to prove the validity of the concept of an elect Israel. Which takes us to the second proof of the enduring promise of God in Election.
- God’s Elective Promise is Greater than the Plans of Men
- His Promises overcome all obstacles – the Example of Isaac (7-9)
- God’s Choice
In verse 7 Paul uses the word “Seed”, implying future or posterity, used in a spiritual way (Gen 21:12).While Ishmael and Isaac were both sons of Abraham, God chose Isaac to be the line through which the blessings would come. Even though Ishmael was the older son (thirteen years older) and the natural one to inherit the promises given by God to Abraham, God sovereignly chose Isaac to inherit those promises.
- God’s Consistency (Faithfulness)
In verse 8 Paul’s argument is that it is not flesh, but promise (an authoritative declaration or divine covenant). Paul was trying to make the point that from the very beginning of Israel’s history, God chose some to bless and others not to bless. God never intended for all of the descendants of Abraham to receive the blessings of salvation promised to the children of Abraham.
This is why Paul quotes in v 9 – Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”By choosing Isaac over Ishmael, God established a pattern of election that continues to this day. God chooses according to His covenant and promise.
- His Purposes overcome the worst of sinners – the Example of Jacob (10-13)
- Sinners are Saved because of God’s Love
We see the facts in verses 10,11 – Esau was born first, but God chose Jacob. Why did God choose Jacob over Esau? Was it because Jacob’s character was more righteous than Esau’s? Paul denied this line of reasoning by declaring that God’s election was made prior to their births, before they had done anything good or evil. Is it possible, though, that God looked ahead and saw what their respective characters would be and based His choice on His foreknowledge? The Biblical record doesn’t support this theory, for Scripture portrays Jacob as cunning and deceptive.Not according to “works” but Him who “calls” (in love, in invitation)
- Sinners all fulfil God’s Plan
Paul closed his illustrative arguments (v.12) with two Old Testament quotes. In Genesis 25:23 He said, “Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” The key phrase in this verse is “two nations.” The nation that came from Esau was called Edom. Edom became a nation of idolaters and the enemy of Israel. In judgment, God made the Edomites servants to the Israelites, who came from Jacob.
Paul’s second Old Testament quote (v.13) was lifted from a statement made by God more than one thousand years after Jacob and Esau had lived and died (Malachi 1:2–3). God was not referring to loving Jacob personally while hating Esau personally. God was saying that at the beginning of Israel’s history He chose Jacob over Esau before they were born, and at the close of Israel’s Old Testament history He could sum up His attitude toward His chosen people as love and His attitude toward the idolatrous nation of Edom as hate.
In application we can conclude with some wonderful encouragements from election. Election is not based on Heritage, but God’s promise that can overcome all the obstacles of sin and rebellion. Finally, election is not based on Worthiness, but on God’s calling (2 Thess 2:13,14). So the end result is “to Him be the glory forever!” (Rom 11:36)