Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
Thesis: The elder shall serve the younger.
Introduction: Last week we took all of our time to attempt to make Paul's point that the children of God do not arise out of anything "flesh" related. In that study we attempted to define Paul's concept of "flesh" by looking into the record regarding Abraham -- because that is where Paul got his concept. We said, in that former study, that the "flesh" is not fundamentally "physical". Rather, it is a composite of three elements: 1) an idolatrous desire [Genesis 15]; 2) human manipulation to get the desired object [Genesis 16]; and 3) a clinging to the idol even when it is obvious that God wants something else [Genesis 17]. These are the issues that seem most clear from the Genesis record from which Paul argues that for God's words of promise to "survive" this milieu of human aggression, He must do two things: first, He must separate His provision(s) from "fleshly" abilities; and, second, He must make it as clear as possible to men that He has done so if He seriously wishes for those men to put their trust in Him. If, at any level, God's words of commitment for trust (that men might trust in them) are actually subject to anything "fallen", there is no rational basis for "faith".
Now, this evening we are going to proceed to the next step in Paul's "proof" of his thesis: the record of "promise" in the next generation. Isaac was "the son of promise", born after all hope of human manipulation was gone. But, even though Isaac's wife was specifically chosen by God (this is the point of Genesis 24), she, like Sarah, was barren (Genesis 25:21). After Isaac prayed for her, she conceived twins and she was told not only that there were two children within her womb, but that "the elder shall serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23) [As far as the record goes, she never had any other children]. Now, anyone who reads the record of the life of "the younger" sees very clearly how deeply ingrained in "the flesh" is the intention of the middle issue of "the flesh": human manipulation to obtain an idolatrous end. But, in spite of this, Paul decided to press his case on the basis of Genesis 25:23. So, this evening we want to try to understand Paul's reason for bringing this part of Genesis into the picture.
October 28, 2008
- I. The "Reason" Begins Where the Issue of "Faith" Rests.
- A. We have already said, " If, at any level, God's words of commitment for trust (that men might trust in them) are actually subject to anything "fallen", there is no rational basis for 'faith'."
- 1. In Romans 8:28 Paul made it as clear as he could that God is profoundly capable of not merely employing the manipulations of men to accomplish His purposes but of turning their intentionality inside out.
- 2. This is fundamental biblical theology: Genesis 45:5-8 and Acts 2:23 and John 12:27-33.
- 3. And this fundamental theology includes the record of Luke 1 where God decidedly excluded "the flesh" in the birth of His Son.
- B. This means that "faith" must recognize the distinction that absolutely exists between God's use of human manipulation and God's subjection of His words to it.
- II. The "Reason" Continues With Paul's "And not only ... BUT also ..."
- A. Though a single instance of divine declaration, properly understood, establishes whatever Truth it represents, typically men need more than one "proof".
- B. Paul presses his case by focusing upon what was said to Rebecca and when and why.
- 1. The when issue is given in 9:10-11.
- a. Post-conception (9:10).
- b. Pre-birth.
- c. Pre-activity on the part of the children.
- 1) The "good or worthless" descriptions of possible "activities" is simply a reference to the Jewish "works" mentality, not a contradiction of prior Romans theology (in which no one does "good").
- 2) The statement of God was made before activity, thus totally contradicting the "works" theology.
- 2. The what issue is given in 9:12 as a quote from Genesis 25:23.
- a. The "greater" shall serve the "lesser".
- b. The issue is fundamentally birth-order as the determinative element in the birthright, but the terminology is larger than that.
- 1) Genesis 25:27-28 establishes a "greater" mentality on Isaac's part with which God's promise was not in harmony.
- 2) Jacob was fundamentally a conniver because he was not "great".
- 3. The why issue is given in 9:11.
- a. There is a "purpose of God".
- b. There is the issue of whether that purpose will "abide" (survive the aggression of the adversaries) [This is the issue of the entire text.]
- c. There is the descriptive phrase "according to the standard of election".
- d. There are the methodologies of "survival": "works" or "Him Who calls".
- 1) Here we are pointedly told that God has absolutely not "subjected" His purpose to fleshly works.
- 2) Here we have a contrast between "works" and "Him"; a shift from what is produced to Who takes the action as well as the nature of the source of what is done (works as opposed to calling).
- a) Works can be addressed with no regard for the love/faith issues beneath them.
- b) Calling directly forces the issues of love/faith into the picture because God calls and men respond by faith out of love.
- III. The "Reason" Concludes With the Proof.
- A. Paul quotes from Malachi 1:2-3.
- B. This is the "historical" argument: what God fore-said has been evidently worked out in actual history.