Whatever one’s conclusion regarding these interpretive options, one thing is clear: God does choose to bless some people and not others, and God can choose to bless some nations and not others. The one thing that Jacob and Esau and Israel and Edom had in common was the absolute failure to merit God’s grace in any way. That God would give grace to anyone speaks of how wonderful he is to some ill-deserving—not just undeserving—people.
Therefore, Paul’s answer to the first question is that within physical Israel there is a remnant saved by grace, which is spiritual Israel. While on the surface it appears that God had attempted to redeem Israel and failed, Paul reveals that God and His gospel have not failed. This is because, while Israel was predestined by God to be blessed as a nation, only some members of that nation—along with some members of other nations—were to receive the blessing of salvation through God’s predestined sovereign choice. His examples of Jacob and Esau, who came from the same mother and father, serve as illustrations that, although both were physical Israel, they were not necessarily spiritual Israel. Even though both were born in the line of Abraham physically, only one was born again in the line of Abraham spiritually. Paul describes this spiritual Israel found within the physical Israel: “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” (Rom. 11:5)
Before we move on to consider Paul’s next question, looking back at how you became a Christian, how do you see that God was pursuing you and chose you before you responded from your new heart empowered by the Holy Spirit given to you by God for faith? Lastly, since God is sovereign over the means and ends of salvation, who can you be praying for, speaking to, buying a Bible for, and inviting to church so they meet Jesus?
This is an excerpt from Pastor Mark’s Romans 8-9 commentary Duck Duck Doom. You can get a free e-book copy on our store here.
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