“Has not man a hard service on earth,
and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?
Like a slave who longs for the shadow,
and like a hired hand who looks for his wages,
so I am allotted months of emptiness,
and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I arise?’
But the night is long,
and I am full of tossing till the dawn.
My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt;
my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh.
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle
and come to their end without hope.
“Remember that my life is a breath;
my eye will never again see good.
The eye of him who sees me will behold me no more;
while your eyes are on me, I shall be gone.
As the cloud fades and vanishes,
so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up;
he returns no more to his house,
nor does his place know him anymore.
“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
Am I the sea, or a sea monster,
that you set a guard over me?
When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,
my couch will ease my complaint,’
then you scare me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
so that I would choose strangling
and death rather than my bones.
I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.
What is man, that you make so much of him,
and that you set your heart on him,
visit him every morning
and test him every moment?
How long will you not look away from me,
nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
Why have you made me your mark?
Why have I become a burden to you?
Why do you not pardon my transgression
and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
you will seek me, but I shall not be.”
(Job 7 ESV)
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”
And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and bend their backs forever.”
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11 ESV)
Romans 11: The apostle concludes the theological portion of his letter (Romans 1-11) by falling on his knees and worshipping through this great doxology found at the end of this chapter. True understanding of God will always lead to a heart of worship. There can be no doxology without theology and should never be theology without doxology. Do we find ourselves alongside of Paul in praise and worship at the close of this chapter or have we gotten lost along the way?
Have we assumed that we can trace out God’s plans? Have we assumed that we have a full understanding of how God works? Have we attempted to offer advice on how God should carry out His plan and purposes? Have we assumed that God is obligated to us in any way? Have we assumed that we are entitled to anything from Him? God’s wisdom and ways are far beyond our human understanding. We must praise Him for what we've come to understand and trust Him with everything we don’t.
Many people find themselves discouraged with the complexity of things found in chapters 9-11 of Paul’s letter to the Romans that are seemingly impossible to completely comprehend. Many others seem to feel that there is little to gain from such a study and seemingly ask, “What’s the point in trying to understand these chapters anyway? How does a understanding of these chapters concern me in my daily life as a Christian?”
Here are two points worth making:
Understanding these chapters gives us an assurance in the absolute certainty of God’s faithfulness, plan and purposes. An understanding of these chapters ought to lead to an unexplainable comfort for us as a Christian. We are one of God’s chosen people and a chosen part of God’s sovereign plan of redemption. Don’t we want this kind of comfort and certainty? Is that kind of assurance not tremendously helpful to our lives here as Christians?
Understanding these chapters leads us into a sense of great humility and a disposition of awe, wonder and worship at the greatness and glory of our amazing God. Is this not the life-blood of what it means to be a Christian in the first place? An understanding of these three chapters ought to rightly lead us to cry out with the apostle in his doxology at the end of chapter eleven.
All things come from God, all things come through God and all things are done for the ultimate glory of God. Praise Him for our humble place in His sovereign plan to redeem the entire world through His own amazing grace and incredible mercy which was powerfully displayed on the cross of Christ bringing salvation to those who believe - to Israel first and then to the Gentile. Amen.