Wednesday, 14 August 2013
That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. Romans 9:8
This verse is speaking directly of the line of promise from Abraham. This line is through Isaac as opposed to all of the children of Abraham who physically descended from him. Because it is speaking in this fashion, the implication is that the same concept applies to later generations as well.
Concerning Abraham, who is being spoken of in verse 7, “those who are the children of flesh” are all born directly from him but who are not of the promise – Ishmael, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (and any others not recorded, but who physically descend from him). It then says, “these are not the children of God.”
In this list, Isaac wasn’t named even though he was born from Abraham. I’ve done this because Paul is making a point about those who are of the promise as opposed to those who are not of the promise. The difference is found in his words “but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”
Taking all of Abraham’s physical descendants and calling them “the children of God” would be a mistake. Other than Isaac, they are merely human beings born in the natural way and to whom no promise was made. However, Isaac came by promise as will be seen in verse 8:29.
As noted above, Paul is showing that the same concept certainly applies to later generations as well. Those who believe are of the same line of promise as Isaac. Those who don’t believe are excluded from the line, even though they were physically born as descendants of Abraham.
To understand this fully, all we need to do is look at the world today. Many claim physical descent from Abraham. Arabs, for example trace their descent from Ishmael. However, they are not sons of God because of this descent. They are only sons of God if they are Arabs who believe in Christ. If they are Muslims then they are not sons of God.
The Jews who don’t believe in Jesus cannot be sons of promise. This is because the promise given to and through Isaac was the promise of the Messiah. It was not a promise intended to stop with Isaac and it wasn’t a promise that was intended to stop with Jacob. The branches continue to come out of the tree until Messiah is revealed. Those who have faith in this Branch are grafted into the tree and become children of God by faith. Those who don’t are cast out as rejected branches.
Life application: The only bearing that physical descent has on God’s redemptive program was in order for humanity to lead to the Messiah. This line continued on for thousands of years until it came to Mary, born of the line of David. However, the Bible records that even Mary had other sons and they are not all Messiahs. Only Jesus fulfills the plan and so even Mary’s other sons had to call on Jesus as Lord. As you can see, your physical descent into a Christian home is irrelevant. Only personal faith in Jesus counts toward your adoption as a child of God.
Lord God, when I’m alone in my thoughts about the day, sometimes I’m angry at the actions of others, sometimes I feel foolish about something I said or did, and at other times I’m worn out from the troubles that come against me like an overwhelming flood. But then I remember that You are there. You cared enough to send Your Son for me and so I know You care enough to listen as I tell You of my day. Thank You for being there. Amen.