I sat on the promenade, overlooking the Old City, Temple Mount, and Mount of Olives, reading three verses in Romans aloud. Just as my view revealed past, present, and future, so did the Scriptures. As we end one year and move into the next, let’s consider the past, present, and future from God’s perspective. Today, read Romans 9 (HCSB), aloud if possible.
I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have intense sorrow and continual anguish in my heart. 3 For I could almost wish to be cursed and cut off from the Messiah for the benefit of my brothers, my own flesh and blood. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises. 5 The ancestors are theirs, and from them, by physical descent, came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever. Amen.
6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants. On the contrary, your offspring will be traced through Isaac. 8 That is, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but the children of the promise are considered to be the offspring. 9 For this is the statement of the promise: At this time I will come, and Sarah will have a son. 10 And not only that, but also Rebekah received a promise when she became pregnant[j] by one man, our ancestor Isaac. 11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to election might stand— 12 not from works but from the One who calls—she was told: The older will serve the younger. 13 As it is written: I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.
14 What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! 15 For He tells Moses:
I will show mercy
to whom I will show mercy,
and I will have compassion
on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture tells Pharaoh:
I raised you up for this reason
so that I may display My power in you
and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
18 So then, He shows mercy to those He wants to, and He hardens those He wants to harden.
19 You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” 20 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory— 24 on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As He also says in Hosea:
I will call Not My People, My People,
and she who is Unloved, Beloved.
26 And it will be in the place where they were told,
you are not My people,
there they will be called sons of the living God.
27 But Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
Though the number of Israel’s sons
is like the sand of the sea,
only the remnant will be saved;
28 for the Lord will execute His sentence
completely and decisively on the earth.
29 And just as Isaiah predicted:
If the Lord of Hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have become like Sodom,
and we would have been made like Gomorrah.
30 What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness—namely the righteousness that comes from faith. 31 But Israel, pursuing the law for righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. 32 Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
Look! I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over
and a rock to trip over,
yet the one who believes on Him
will not be put to shame.