It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.
John 8:39, 44
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Many scholars have wondered why Paul wrote chapters nine through eleven of Romans. It seems as though he should have gone from chapter eight right into chapter twelve. But it is important to note that these chapters are not just a detour but are crucial in understanding the consistency of God in His dealings with all people. Some people believe that after the resurrection of Christ, God abandoned His people Israel. They believe that the church replaces Israel. This is known as “replacement theology.” Paul asks the question in Romans 11:1, “Did God reject his people?” The answer to this question is: “By no means!” In chapters nine through eleven, Paul writes concerning Israel’s past, present, and future. All of this demonstrates how all of God’s actions are found in His own sovereign will. He functions through mercy in His dealings with Israel and ALL others.
In our Scripture reading today, Paul makes a clear distinction between the natural offspring of Jacob and the spiritual offspring. He writes, “Not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.” He explains himself in verse eight: “it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” The Jews believed that to be a natural offspring of Abraham guaranteed they were natural recipients of all of God’s promises. We see this privilege asserted in John 8:39 when Jesus was addressing the religious leaders of His day. Jesus makes the same distinction between Abraham’s natural offspring and his spiritual offspring. Abraham believed (trusted) God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Those who trust in the finished work of Christ are considered Abraham’s spiritual offspring.
I often hear people say, “We are all God’s children.” This is not a correct statement. We are all God’s creation. Only those who are “born from above” are considered God’s children. Jesus told the religious leaders, “You belong to your father the devil.” They were identifying themselves with Abraham and Jesus points out that their actions did not align with Abraham’s faith. Their response was to accuse Jesus of being demon-possessed. God did choose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to birth a nation through which the Messiah would come into this world. God blessed Israel in so many ways. Paul will later make the point that Israel’s rejection of the Gospel would bring about so much blessing for the Gentiles. He also references that Israel’s future acceptance of the Gospel would result in the whole world being blessed (Romans 11:12).
Questions to Ponder:
Are you a true son or daughter of Abraham? What is the difference between national Israel and spiritual Israel? How do you reconcile the sovereignty of God and the free will of man?
- Praise God as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Praise Him as Yahweh, holy, perfect, righteous, and true.
- Thank the Lord for His unfailing love, redemption, forgiveness, faithfulness, and strength.
- Ask the Lord to give you and His church a deeper passion for the lost, a heart for the nations, and a praying heart for Israel. Pray along with Paul’s prayer from Romans 10:1: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.”
- Call out to the Lord of the Harvest and ask for workers to be sent out. We too are “sent ones.” Pray for yourself, your family, our church family, and greater 1 church. That we would have lovely feet that bring the good news of Jesus.
Holy and Righteous Father, I worship You as the one and only true God. Eternal God, whom every name in heaven and on earth derives its name. Forgive me, Father, and forgive Your people for sinning against You. I confess a wandering heart, allowing jealously, coveting, judging, and bitterness to take root in my heart rather than bringing those things right to You. Forgive me, Lord, wash me clean. And as I walk the other way, walk into You and Your light, I ask that You would enable me by the power of Your Holy Spirit to have clean hands and a pure heart. Lead me daily into Your truth, oh God. Thank You for providing everything that I need. Thank You for my daily bread. You and You alone satisfy. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.