February 11 - Romans 11:28-36

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Romans 11:28-36 – The Mercy of God

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. 

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?  For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Again, it is sometimes difficult to understand exactly what Paul is saying when he argues using rhetoric. The gospel did not make the Jews enemies of God, because many of them – including Paul – had responded to its message. But Paul uses this contradiction of 'enemies' versus 'loved' to explain that they didn't receive the good news of Jesus Christ (the gospel) and thus have angered God. This was still part of the plan and happened so that for your sake … for the Gentiles and all non-Jewish Christians even today … we could be exposed to the love of God and respond to it.  Their rejection of the gospel had a purpose – it gave the world salvation.

But, the comparison happens with the idea of election. God loves his chosen people because of the patriarchs. The covenant remains in place.

Just as we were once disobedient, but were offered mercy; the nation of Israel is right now disobedient and will receive that same mercy. Disobedience is part of the human equation and mercy is part of God's.

In verse 33, Paul moves to a doxology … a hymn of praise to the wisdom and knowledge of God. We can't understand his mind. Paul didn't break into a doxology because we have figured out the entirety of God's plan for the Jews and the Gentiles, but if you read these words, you find that he lifts up praise because God has the answers and has a plan.

God's riches - mercy and grace; his wisdom – pointing to the best end; and knowledge – knowing what the end is, are unfathomable and of those things there is no limit.  We will never understand what God is doing; we do not have the capacity to begin to comprehend his plans.

For from him (God) through him (Jesus Christ) and to him (the Holy Spirit) are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.