Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 11
Thesis: Being "in the lineage" was a manifest privilege that was squandered for a "bowl of beans".
Introduction: As we have worked our way through the litany of "special advantages" possessed by the Israelites, we have seen two stark realities: first, that the "advantages" did not do the vast majority of them any good at all (rather, it increased their damnation -- Matthew 11:22); and, second, that this squandering of advantage is a matter of significant, godly, grief.
We have also seen that Paul set up his presentation of these "special advantages" in a deliberate order that placed the "future" first and the "mechanics of that future" afterwards. And we saw last week that those "mechanics" really boil down to two basic realities: there is the fundamental reality of the "principle" of covenant/promise which has primarily to do with the unilateral activity of God; and there is the more fundamental reality of the "principle" of the divine methodology of "revelation" regarding this unilateral action (the existence of a unilaterally acting God of covenant/promise does man little good if he has no sure knowledge of Him).
This evening we are going to look into the meaning and significance of the second "whose" phrase: "whose are the fathers". What we want to know is what it means to be "in the lineage" and why Paul brought that up.
September 23, 2008
- I. A Prejudicial Old Testament Record: Genesis 25:29-34.
- A. The record is of a man "in the lineage" at a critical place: firstborn.
- B. The record is of a man whose "life attitude" was fundamentally hedonistic.
- C. According to Hebrews 12:16, the record is of a man who became a contrary standard for "falling short of the grace of God".
- II. Paul's Meaning in Romans 9:5.
- A. Moses gave this "meaning" succinctly in Deuteronomy 10:15 (10:14-17).
- 1. A most significant aspect of this "meaning" is in the phrase, "...even you above all peoples...".
- a. This means that He had given, by divine fiat, a position of status beyond imagination.
- b. This means that the greatest indication of Israel's rejection of Yahweh's "delight in the fathers" was to be a continual striving for a status that ultimately means absolutely nothing.
- c. That Jesus was delivered up by Israel because of this evil striving is the definitive declaration of both Matthew 27:18 and Mark 15:10.
- 2. A most significant implication of this "meaning" is given in 10:16: the privilege is to be honored with a correspondingly legitimate response [Note the Old Testament example of Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:25].
- B. Paul was drawing from the Old Testament reality of God's special election.
- 1. In Romans 11:28 he argues that the believers need to grasp the point of being "of the fathers".
- 2. In the statement of Jesus in Matthew 23:31-33 there is a tacit recognition that this reality is not something that can be abused with impunity.
- 3. In Genesis there is a highly developed "theology" of "the God of the fathers".
- a. Genesis 28:13 gives indication of the "point".
- b. Genesis 31 highlights the reality in verse five as well as in the conversation of Laban and Jacob in verses twenty-nine and following.
- 4. In Ephesians 2:11-12 Paul confirms the legitimacy -- for a time -- of this type of thinking.
- C. Paul was making one thing very clear: proximity to blessing is a great advantage.
- III. Some Implications For Our Consideration.
- A. There is this plain fact in our text: proximity did not do Israel any good.
- B. Grief over this failure was the apostle's response.
- C. Paul was God's representative in this grief.
- 1. Many of us would ask this question: if people are of such a perverse nature that the highest honors given by God mean little to nothing to them, why waste any grief on them?
- 2. Those of us who would think this thought need to ask these questions.
- a. What is the alternative? Those who close themselves off from the grief because it will be fruitless become two things: first, they become less like their God -- not more -- because He refuses to close Himself off from the grief (1 Timothy 2:4); and, second, they become more like those who have no hope -- not less -- because of the incipient hardness of heart that closes off one's "bowels of compassion" (1 John 3:17; Colossians 3:12).
- b. What is the final reality? There is a day coming when "Death" will be "swallowed up" by "Life" (1 Corinthians 15:54) and everyone who "wasted" his emotional energy by "feeling sorry for" those who were irremediably lost will find that the "waste" actually generated a larger capacity for sharing in the joys of others -- those "others" who were saved and are joyfully ensconced in Life by the victory.
- c. What is the core reality? God is "like this": He is the root of "wasted compassion". As hard as it is to fathom, it is the nature of God to do "stuff" that seems to have no direct "rationale" in "efficiency" -- that seems to be an ineffectual waste of effort.
- d. Who was it that enthroned "efficiency" as a virtue? It seems to me that "abandoned magnanimity" is more greatly to be admired that parsimonious "efficiency".