Wednesday, 4 September 2013
And as Isaiah said before:
“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah.” Romans 9:29
Again Paul cites Scripture to support the argument he is making. In verse 27, he showed that because of Israel’s disobedience, only a remnant would be saved. This was promised in the law at the time of Moses in the blessings and curses. It is noted elsewhere in Scripture, both as future prophecies and as prophecies fulfilled (such as in the recorded names and numbers of the returning exiles in Ezra and Nehemiah).
Two exiles were prophesied for Israel – the Babylonian one came about prior to Paul’s time; the Roman one would occur in the year AD70 at the hands of the Romans. Paul knew it was coming on the nation based on their rejection of Christ. And so to show that God’s workings were anticipated and deserved, he quotes Isaiah 1:9.
“And as Isaiah said before…” He has twice quoted Isaiah and he turns again, right to the beginning of this prophet’s book to highlight that this wasn’t just expected, but that it was a note of highlight. Isaiah doesn’t begin with words of Israel’s obedience and supremacy among the nations. Instead, he begins with their disobedience and prophesied destruction.
“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed…” The Lord is “Jehovah;” Sabaoth is often translated as “Hosts.” Thus, unless “Jehovah of Hosts” is the idea we are to understand. As noted in 9:28, “Jehovah” is the covenant keeping God who bestows the blessings and executes the curses upon the covenant people. “Hosts” is a military type term used of an organized army. We can therefore understand this verse as, “Unless Jehovah of Heaven’s Armies had left us a seed…”
What is implied by using this term is that the warriors of heaven itself have come to fight against the disobedient and unruly people. Their instructions were destruction. They were to execute their duties with full determination of purpose, with the exception of “a seed.” Leaving but a seed is synonymous with sparing a remnant. A seed by itself when watered will again grow into a multitude. Here then is a picture of the “righteous remnant” saved by the Lord of Hosts for the unveiling of His glorious future plans for Israel.
But if this seed had not been spared, Isaiah says that, “We would have become like Sodom, and We would have been made like Gomorrah.” The Bible’s noted example of wickedness leading to destruction is Sodom and Gomorrah. Like the Flood of Noah itself, there were but a few survivors. In the case of the flood, only eight survived, out of a world of people. In Sodom, only Lot, his wife, and his two daughters were spared. But even Lot’s wife was lost when she turned back to view the destruction.
Paul is using examples of temporal destruction at God’s hand to show that He truly is angry at sin and that the disobedient will be cast off. But he is also demonstrating that God, even in destruction, will keep His covenant promises. This is an important and often overlooked aspect of Romans 9. Unless we look back to this truth, found in the promised blessings and curses, we could come to the conclusion that God has, in fact, cast off His people Israel. But such was not the case in the first exile and such is not the case with the second one either. Israel has been returned to the land by the covenant-keeping God. This was done to fulfill the ancient promises to this group of people.
Life application: Is God not in control? Who could honestly look at the nation of Israel today and not see that they must be there for a reason. Prior to their re-gathering, spiritualizing Old Testament prophecies could almost be regarded as acceptable, though it would still be considered far-fetched. But now, with their re-establishment in the rear-view mirror, we are without excuse when we reject what God is beginning to do through them. Have faith that God is in control and that Israel of today is not an aberration.
Lord Jesus, though Israel as a nation hasn’t yet called on You, it will happen. Both Old Testament and New show us that this is so. Who am I to fight against what You have clearly laid out in Your word. I stand with Israel – the coming recipients of Your favor when You return again. Amen.