Romans 9:10-13Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Here's a hard passage, and I don't have all the answers. I could probably write six posts about this and still not give you all the answers. In fact, I'm not sure that we have all the answers - but God does. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9), and we do not understand God or his plan or his deeds. We would be arrogant to think we do. But Here are some thoughts on the passage.
The General Drift
To this point, Paul has been explaining that being a descendant of Abraham does not mean automatic salvation. That's why he continues about Rebekah. If you want to hear the story around these guys then check out Genesis 24 onwards. Paul's point is that Israel came through Jacob, not Esau. God chose to save Jacob and to bless his children, but Esau was just as much a descendant of Abraham. Therefore it is not Heritage which saves us.
What does that mean for us? It is not our family line or our parents who save us. It needs to be personal, genuine faith in Jesus and repentance of sin.
Before they had done anything good or bad
God chose who he would save before they were even born. He does not save us by works or by anything in us which he wants or desires - he created everything in us. He saves us because it is his will and because he has chosen to. God chooses to love us, and he saves us accordingly. He chooses who he will save. That's clearly spelled out throughout Romans 9. God's purpose will stand. His way will be done. We cannot defy him, we cannot defeat him.
- This is good news: God is Just, holy, perfect, merciful, gracious, mighty. He is the epitome of who we would want to be in control, because he is not corrupt. He is good.
- Yet it's also 'bad' news: God is just. Therefore everyone who does not turn to him is not saved and is going to hell to suffer his wrath for eternity. It;s good news since it shows God is just, but it's bad news for all those who reject Jesus.
- But then there's still good news: God is merciful. He sent Jesus, his son, to die in our place so if we turn to him we can be forgiven. Jesus took the wrath we deserved. Repent and Believe in him! He will save! But if you reject him, then your sins are still on your head and God's wrath remains on you.
Here's the crux: It is not by works. It is entirely God who saves. It is entirely in Jesus that we are forgiven. Nothing we can do or say or think can make us good enough in God's sight, because we've all sinned. It is about God. He calls us, he causes us to turn to him in repentance and faith, and he provided Jesus to be the way for us. He reigns. Worship him! Turn to him is you haven't! He offers complete forgiveness, and he offers it for free. But Genuine repentance will involve works as the result. If we follow him we will act like it (You can't follow someone without following them.)
I think I'll tackle verse 13 in the next post...