Monday, 12 August 2013
But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,… Romans 9:6
One has to pay attention to what they are reading concerning Israel or suddenly a false impression of who “Israel” is comes into play. Israel is not the church and the church is not Israel. There is nothing in Paul’s writings to indicate otherwise and everything to dispel such a notion.
However, far too often, people in the church look at verses such as Romans 9:6 and, tying them together with other verses, come to the conclusion that if there are those who are not Israel who are “of Israel,” then the opposite must somehow be true; those who are of Israel now were not previously “of Israel.” This is a faulty premise and isn’t supportable at all.
Having said this, Paul will show how those who were not God’s people (Israel) become God’s people (by faith) and how those who were God’s people (Israel) are not truly God’s people (because they lack faith). Again, the categories are set between Israel and non-Israel, and who are God’s people and who are not God’s people. Keep these categories straight and the error of thinking that the church becomes Israel won’t be made.
With this understanding, Paul begins 9:6 with “But.” This is showing a contrast of his thoughts on verses 1-5. He has been describing the honors and distinctions of being a son of Israel and now he shows the contrast, “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect.” The word, which establishes and explains the duties of the people Israel, isn’t to blame for any fault which arises in the people. It is the basis for who they are and explains how they were to conduct themselves because of their honored status.
As we proceed through his thoughts in the coming verses and chapters, he will quote this very word of God which details their responsibilities and which identifies those who are truly of Israel. This is why he mentions it now. Once this baseline for his thoughts (the Scriptures) is noted, he then makes his pronouncement (which will be supported by this baseline) – “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel…”
The seemingly contradictory statement will be fully explained by using the very Scriptures that the Israelites stand on as their evidence for being God’s special people in the first place.
Life application: When we come to conclusions from concepts in the Bible, they must square with the various categories which the Bible sets down first. If we misunderstand these categories, then false assumptions will result. Sometimes it’s not easy to define categories, particularly when we already have ideas about what we want to believe. Making charts as you read and study is often a good idea to help you align your thoughts with what the Bible intends.
Oh Lord! How I treasure your word. In it I find lessons for moral living – examples of right and wrong morality. I also find examples of what pleases You. Quite often, You tell me directly that something is displeasing in Your sight or that with a certain action You are well-pleased. You’ve given all the information I need to be agreeable in Your eyes. Now Lord, help me to learn and follow that narrow and pleasant path. Amen.