Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 6 Study # 2
November 3, 2009
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the gospel, [they are] enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, [they are] beloved for the fathers' sakes.
29 For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance.
30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
1901 ASV Translation:
26 and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 And this is my covenant unto them, When I shall take away their sins.
28 As touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake.
29 For the gifts and the calling of God are not repented of.
30 For as ye in time past were disobedient to God, but now have obtained mercy by their disobedience,
31 even so have these also now been disobedient, that by the mercy shown to you they also may now obtain mercy.
32 For God hath shut up all unto disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.
- I. Israel's Future.
- A. According to Paul's scenario for "humility", there has been an interruption of sorts in God's dealings with Israel so that the Gentiles can be included in the "root of the fatness" (11:17).
- 1. He does not explain "why" a "hardness in Israel" had to be a part of that plan; he only explains that many of the branches of the tree were cut off and wild branches grafted in. It is not a "natural" reality to grafting that branches have to be cut off to make room for branches to be grafted into the tree. It is only a "fallen" reality that Israel had drifted far from God and He permitted the drift with an eye on turning His saving attention to the wild olive branches. He had set this precedent in the first 2,000 years of human history by His permission of the drift of the Gentiles with an eye on developing a nation from Abraham, but He did not "explain" why both groups could not have His attention simultaneously. If God can graft wild branches into a tree without giving them a basis for highminded boasting, and actually get the job done, He could as easily sustain the natural branches in fruitfulness and not have any that needed to be pruned out. That God is going to return to Israel and bring His promises of fruitfulness to pass also proves that the issue is not His "lack of capacity" to keep people from drifting. At the root of this issue is the fact that God has a use for unfruitful branches and the process of first letting them drift and than pruning them out of the tree that transcends His interest in their salvation. This fact has already been stated: "God is willing to show His wrath, and ... make His power known" (9:22). In one sense, not even God can show wrath when there is no occasion. God can turn hardened hearts into mush and "save" willfully rebellious people (He does this regularly). But He cannot display a combination of wrath and power where there is no occasion for it. So, He addresses what He cannot do by curbing what He can do. This reality is at the central core of fallen creatures' "excuses for rebellion". Rebels love to point to this as the justification for their rebellion. This, say they, is the reason I despise God: He is an ogre who is willing to send enduring creatures to eternal condemnation just so He can show off His powerful wrath.
- a. The first problem of this "justification" is this: it does not change anything. Enduring rebels are still sent to eternal condemnation.
- b. The second problem of this "justification" is this: the "satisfaction" of embracing rebellion for cause is pretty fleeting. Once the smugness of "self-justification" has worn off, what does the rebel have left? A habitation where the fire is not quenched and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth is not mollified much by dead smugness.
- c. The third problem of this "justification" is this: it is too short sighted. The fact that even God has "can'ts" (things He cannot do) must be handled with understanding. God cannot make powerful wrath known without legitimate cause. But neither can God communicate eternal life to anyone who must be kept ignorant of His essential character. Thus, not even God can "save" without making Himself known, nor can He make Himself known without expressing His eternal wrath. Enter the rebels who blindly and arrogantly strut across the plain of God's creation and gleefully enter into what they know cannot be "godly" and then call the God Who holds them accountable an "ogre". That God can save such has been demonstrated throughout the history of His long suffering mercy, but no one can say that He must. "Must" is rooted in "legality" and there are no evidences anywhere that "Law" must be merciful. Instead, everywhere is the evidence that "mercy" is a miscarriage of justice. No wonder Paul simply quipped, "Who are you, O man, that repliest against God?" (9:20). At some point human ignorance has to yield to divine omniscience and love or it will face divine wrath and power.
- d. The fourth problem of this "justification" is this: it is too un-loving; containing the very faults that the self-justifiers find so "ogreish" in God. Jesus was willing, in love, to be the object of the Father's "powerful wrath". He did not consider the Father an ogre. Paul, in a lesser, but similar, way was willing to become the object of the Father's powerful wrath because he loved greatly (Romans 9:3). He did not consider the Father an ogre. Where is this kind of love in the strutting arrogance of the rebel? They are not even willing to endure the wrath because they deserve it, let alone endure it because they want to spare someone else from it. To call Another an ogre while being the genuine article oneself is "over the top" hypocrisy. Only the totally self-absorbed cannot recognize their hypocrisy and it is the totally self-absorbed that God has reserved for His demonstration of power and wrath.
- e. The fifth problem of this "justification" is this: it accepts the legitimacy of wrath if the object brings it on itself as an exercise of its own "will". There are a few of the "ogre-yellers" who demand universal salvation as God's only protection against their charge, but the large majority will say that if God gives a creature a "real choice" (i.e., an "unfettered will") and the creature "chooses" to be a rebel, then God is not an ogre. In other words, if God will make the decisions of men sacrosanct, He can be a Judge without being an ogre. The problems here are several, but the greatest of them is this: a "sacrosanct human will" will invariably plunge its executor into selfishness and bring him to destruction. Thus, no one will be saved and creation will have been a total failure.
- f. And a sixth problem of this "justification" is this: it ignores what Jesus said in John 3:17. In that text we are told that Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save. The fact is this: God did not need to create humanity and let it drift into sin so that He would have a valid basis for the demonstration of His wrath and power. He already had that basis in the angelic rebellion. He created humanity to make His mercy, grace, and love known. Those characteristics were not as "obvious" in the angelic reality since there was to be no redemption for angels. Well, then, why does God not save all "humans" and only condemn "fallen angels"? To answer, we have to ask a compound question: What would that demonstrate and where would it demonstrate it? And to answer that we have to understand Hebrews 2:7-9. That text tells us that "humans" are "lower" than angels in some way. This means that God, in order to make Himself known on multiple levels, created two distinct classes of creatures of sensibility; one that sin would immediately put beyond redemption, and another that sin would not immediately put beyond redemption. In other words, the level of "sin" that an "angel" would have to commit was greater than that of a "human". It is the degree of "Sin" that makes redemption an issue, not the fact of it. This, in turn, means that "angels" were created with a greater understanding inherent within them (perhaps because of their immediate proximity to God) than "humans" inherently have. This is the principle of Luke 12:47-48 (knowledge makes a difference in judgment). Thus, it is the ignorance of humanity that makes redemption possible to them, and it is this that makes the redemption of all of them unfeasible: redemption is a "knowledge" issue and, even though God has a sufficient base for the demonstration of His power and wrath in the angelic rebellion, He does not have that base in this world where "humans" must find out what is true. Humans cannot understand "grace" where there is no demonstration of "law".