ROMANS 9:6-9 AND GENESIS 32:27,28
Now we trust as we begin another series of four lessons that each of you will take your Bibles, and as one lady wrote the other day, "I bought a new Bible when I started watching you, and now it's already all marked up." Well that's what we want, that's the name of the game. You just search the Scriptures, and don't pay quite as much attention to what I say, but be able to determine, "What does The Book say?"
Now we want to go right back to where we left off in our last lesson, and that was in Romans Chapter 9, and verse 6. Now remember we have been emphasizing that this Book of Romans is just almost the highlight of all of Scripture. And out of this great book I like to call Chapter 8 the gemstone of the Book of Romans, and now as we come into Chapter 9, 10, and 11 we're going to be dealing with the Nation of Israel. Chapter 9 of course is Israel's past, and the Apostle Paul is going to be referring back into the Old Testament, back and forth in order to make his point. Then when we go into Chapter 10 we'll deal with Israel as God is looking at Israel today in the Age of Grace, and in Chapter 11 we'll be looking at what is still ahead for that little nation.
Remember I'm always emphasizing that the largest part of Christendom, and I'm including the Roman Catholics, the Protestants, and many other groups refuse to accept the fact that God is not through with the Nation of Israel. Most of them have set Israel aside. Even back in the Reformation most of them were basically anti-Semitic because they accused Israel of being the Christ killer, and consequently God had turned to the Church with all of the promises given to Israel because He was through with that little Covenant nation, but I always say, "Don't you believe it!" This Book is adamant that even though God has set Israel aside for this last 2000 years, yet He is one day going to bring them back to the land as we see He is doing, and one day God is going to pick up where He left off with His Covenant people. And so we have to be aware that the Jews are God's chosen people, even though they're out there in unbelief, they're spiritually blinded for the most part yet God has not given up on them.
In our last lesson I paraphrased a quote, and I told you that I'd forgotten to bring the actual quote along, well today I have it with me. I called Princeton University to find out when this gentlemen had served as their president, and I knew it was a long time ago by virtue of what he said. Now, I will read his quote word for word today. This gentleman's name was Francis L. Patton and he served as their president from 1888 - 1902. Now a president of Princeton today would never make a statement like this I'm quite sure, but remember at that time Princeton was still a bulwark of conservative Christianity as were a lot of the Ivy League Schools, now listen what this gentlemen said. "The only hope of Christianity is in the rehabilitating of the Pauline Theology. It is back, back, back, to an Incarnate Christ, and the atoning blood, or it is on, on, and on to atheism, and despair."
Nothing truer could be spoken, but you see if this gentlemen at the turn of the century sensed that people were already ignoring the Apostle Paul's epistles, what would he think today? We hear lots of people say that they think that Paul's epistles shouldn't even be in our Bible. I remember reading where someone had quoted a seminary professor as having stated that he thought Paul's experience on the road to Damascus was nothing more than an epileptic seizure. So these are the kinds of statements you know that people make concerning the Apostle Paul and his epistles. But his epistles are the very bedrock of our Christian faith, and we have to move into Paul's epistles if we're going to get a clear view of salvation by Grace through faith + nothing. Now let's pick up where we left off in our last lesson in Romans Chapter 9 and verse 6. In verse 4 and 5 we covered those seven things that were intrinsic to the Nation of Israel so far as His dealing with them from the Covenant promises. And then you remember in verse 5 we covered the aspect as the eighth part of all this, that it was all brought about so that Christ could come, not just to be The Messiah for Israel, but to be The Saviour of whole human race. Now then verse 6.
"Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Does that sound like double talk? Yes it does unless we understand what Paul is alluding to, and the only way we can pick it up of course is to go back to the Old Testament. Let's go back to Genesis Chapter 32, and you remember Jacob the deceiver, the supplanter, whom we like to think deceived not only his father Isaac and his brother Esau, but he was also pretty good at it while he was up in Haran working for his uncle Laban. Jacob was always one step ahead of everybody if there was to be a sharp deal. And so the very name Jacob you remember means the supplanter, the deceiver, and that's what he was. Now after he had been up in Haran and gained his wives, and all of his children with the exception of Benjamin of course, he comes down into the land of Canaan with God's leading, and as soon as he gets back to Canaan who does he have to meet? Well his brother Esau, and of course Jacob is scared to death of what Esau is going to do to him, because after all, Jacob had tricked him some 40 years earlier. But now as we pick up the story here in Genesis 32 we find Jacob has surrounded himself with all of his flocks and herds and so forth in order to have a little bit of protection from the wrath of Esau. But God of course has something else totally on His mind, and that is, He is going to come down in human form as God did throughout the Old Testament, and He's going to confront Jacob man to man. And here in verse 24 we're in the dead of night, and I've always said that most of us can't understand what it was like to be in total darkness. We have so many lights beaming everywhere that we don't really get a pure view of total darkness anymore. But here we have old Jacob asleep on the ground, and no doubt in abject darkness.
"And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day." Now you know I'm a literalist - this isn't a figure of speech. God literally came down in a theophany in the form of a man, and He begins this true wrestling match with the man Jacob.
"And when he saw that he (God) prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him." In other words God crippled Jacob. And of course we know from other Scriptures that Jacob now walks with a limp for the rest of his life. But that's not the important part. Verse 26.
"And he (The Lord) said, `Let me go, for the day breaketh.' And he (Jacob) said, `I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.'"
I think it's implied clearly enough, Jacob understands Who he's wrestling with? He knows that he's dealing with the God of his father Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham. And he understands that unless this God blesses him, he's destitute. Now remember, way back when those two boys were born, and Esau was the oldest of those twins we taught that Esau was destitute of faith. Esau saw absolutely nothing in the promises of God, but Jacob on the other hand got a little glimpse, he had just a little flicker that he could see that there was something to be gained by getting the birthright as well as the blessing. In this little bit of faith God knows here's the man that He can work with and Jacob understands Who this is that he's wrestling with. So he says, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Now let's move into the next verse.
"And he (The Lord) said unto him, `What is thy name?' And he said, `Jacob.' (Now watch this) And he said, `Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.'"
God told Jacob, "You just hung tough, you did not give up, you did not fail me." So God sees that faith in this man Jacob, and by it He transformed him. Here's Jacob's true salvation, here is where Jacob experiences what we call today the "New Birth." And so consequently since he is now a new man in God, in Christ, yes in Christ even back there. He's now a new man, and God also gives him a new name. He's no longer to be called Jacob, the deceiver, which was the natural, but now he's to be called Israel, the prince with God. Don't lose sight of those two names of Jacob and his offspring.
One of my rules of thumb has been that always you have first the natural and then the spiritual. That's the way it's been ever since the human experience First we have Cain the natural, then Abel the spiritual. First Ishmael the natural, then Isaac the spiritual. First Esau the natural, and then Jacob the spiritual. First King Saul the natural, and King David the spiritual, and then at the end time there will be first the anti-Christ, and then the Christ, and you can follow that all the way up through Scripture. All the genealogy will follow that same format, you will always get the format of the natural or non spiritual, and then the spiritual. Now it's the same way in the life of Jacob. First he's the natural man, he's Jacob, now he becomes the spiritual man Israel. What were we originally? We were natural, we had nothing to do with the spiritual life, but after we're born into the family of God, we've experienced Salvation and what are we? We're Spiritual! We are now citizens of Heaven, we are now totally different persons.
So now then we're going to have the beginning of the history of the Nation of Israel divided into these same two categories. We're going to have that portion of the Nation of Israel that remains in the natural, they never do have a spiritual enlightenment, even though they are under the Covenant. And so I guess I should back up just a little bit. From the beginning of human history there has always been primarily two groups of people. Number one you have the lost which are by far the greatest number. The other side of the coin you have the believers, the saved of the ages, and it's no different today. It doesn't matter whether we're black or white, rich or poor, bond or free, we're either over in the lost, the natural element, or else we're over here in the spiritual. Jacob is the beginning of this dividing line even within Israel the Covenant people of God. Some are going to remain natural, destitute of faith, but some are going to be spiritual, and are going to become believers. Turn to Isaiah Chapter 9, where the Scripture explains it better than I could.
"The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel."
Now do you see what that says? In other words, when God would speak through the prophets it went to the whole Nation of Israel, they all heard it, but how many truly responded? Only the believing element. The Israel. So the word would go out to the whole nation (Jacob) but only those who were enlightened by faith would respond to it, and it was always a small remnant, and it still is today. The vast masses of humanity can hear the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) and I mean hear and understand, but how many percentage-wise believe it for their Salvation? And that's the way it's always been, but also within the realms of the Nation of Israel itself. Now then when you come back to Romans Chapter 9 this is exactly what the Apostle Paul is referring to. That not all the Children of Israel would be spiritual only a few of them would be. So not all Israel is Israel. Now verse 7.
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called."
Now again let's go back to the Book of Genesis Chapter 17. Remember that God for about 50 years had promised Abraham and Sarah a son. And out of that son would come the Nation of Israel, and the fulfillment of those Covenant promises. But Abraham and Sarah became impatient and went back into the pagan custom of using a surrogate mother. Sarah really had the idea first, and suggested that they have a son by their slave girl Hagar. Abraham of course quickly agreed to that, and from that fleshly idea comes the man Ishmael - again the natural side. But remember he's a child of Abraham, and you see this is the conflict in the Middle East yet today. The Arab world says they are the true Children of Abraham because the Koran, if I understand it correctly, instead of putting the Covenant promises with Isaac puts them with Ishmael. And so consequently they feel as though they're the rightful owners of the Holy Land, but you see our Book, The Word of God, contrary to what the Koran may say, puts all of these Covenant promises on the man Isaac.
"And God said unto Abraham, `As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.'"
Remember, we taught all that when we taught Genesis 5 years ago, that the `H' difference in Abram and Abraham is the letter of the Hebrew alphabet that refers to Grace, and so the Grace of God is implied now by changing the name Abram to Abraham, and also the name Sarai to Sarah. Now verse 16:
"And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her; and she shall be a mother of nations: kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, `Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?' (Now you see Abraham comes back to that energy of the flesh) And Abraham said unto God, `O that Ishmael might live before thee!' (Why can't Ishmael fulfill your promises, and in verse 19 God refutes him) And God said, `Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.'"
Now I mentioned in one of our previous lessons, whenever there is an "I Will" from God in Scripture, what is it? A promise. In other words Isaac becomes a promised Son, now I'm emphasizing that, and I'm taking it slowly because I want you to remember now that what God promises He is not going to let fail. And so in spite of the age of Abraham, now nearing 100, and Sarah nearing 90, the promise is valid because God said that He was going to do it, and Abraham was to call his name Isaac. In deference to our Arab people, (and we certainly don't look down our nose at them here in this Age of Grace, because they are just as eligible as we are for God's Salvation), we find that God deals with Ishmael.
"And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation."
And God did. My land, look at the Middle East tonight, and you see 50 Arabs for every Jew. So God has blessed the Arab people, and not only did he give them 50 times more people than Israel, but he also gave them all the world's oil; they have the wealth of the world in their back yard. God has blessed them and they've nothing to complain about, but look what God says in verse 21:
"But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year."
He was a son of promise, and on top of that he was a son of a miracle working power of God, because both Abraham and Sarah were well beyond normal child bearing. Now let's come back to Romans Chapter 9, and here Paul says that all that are of the seed of Abraham are not the seed of promise. Ishmael had much off spring, and same way when you come to the next promised child, which is Jacob, we find that his brother Esau also had much offspring as well, and even though genetically Ishmael and Esau are children of Abraham, yet spiritually speaking they are outside the Covenant promise, because that could only go to the offspring of Isaac, and Jacob and down that family tree. So all these others are left out.
The danger of all this (we'll see it a little later in this chapter), is that Israel got a little bit puffed up, and arrogant, and said, "Well now since we are the children of the Covenant, the children of the prophets what have we got to worry about? We've got it made." And Paul is going to come and just blow them out of the saddle. "Hey you're not going to enter into these promises of God simply because you're in the right genealogy, you're still going to have to enter in by faith." We will see that as we move on through this Chapter 9. Romans 9:7
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." And of course the Seed there is in reference to Christ. The Seed of the woman that would come through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and not through anyone else.
"That is, They which are the children of the flesh,"
Do you see what that says? Remember that's what God said of Ishmael. Ishmael was born in response to the wishes of the flesh. God never once told Abraham and Sarah to go and have a child with Hagar. That was strictly a fleshly idea, and so Ishmael all the way through Scripture, even when Paul uses him as an allegory in Galatians Chapter 4, we find Ishmael is always pictured as energy of the flesh. And remember we can accomplish nothing in the energy of the flesh, but it's only those that were born of promise that come into God's Covenant program. Now reading on verse 8:
"That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." And again I think the word, "Seed" here is referring to the, "Seed of the woman" in Genesis 3:15, all the way up through the coming of Christ, and then as Paul says in Galatians Chapter 3:
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."
Now then what's that telling us? That every believer whether it was back in ancient Israel or whether it's now at the end of the Church Age, every believer was promised to Christ before the foundations of the world. John's Gospel Chapter 17, probably makes it as clear as any portion in Scripture. And of course I know that in John 17, "Christ's High Priestly prayer" the men He is really referring to are the eleven, and that's the way I have to look at it. But nevertheless they are just a little picture of all of those that would one day become the Lord's by virtue of their Salvation. Here Jesus is speaking:
"I have manifested thy name (He's praying to the Father remember.) unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me:..."
Now remember those eleven men were not believers until Christ came onto the scene, so Who already had His finger on them? Well God did, and you come on down to verse 12:
"While I was with them in the world, (His earthly ministry) I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, (Why? Because God gave them to Him, and what God does no man can undo) but the son of perdition; (Judas) that the scripture might be fulfilled."
So what is this telling us? That everyone of us from before the foundation of the world were promised to The Lord Jesus Christ to be His. And so as He went to the Cross, He knew already those that would be His own.
NOT ALL ISRAEL IS ISRAEL, Part 2