Rabbi Schneider - Is God Truly Fair?
I want to just say in advance, some of the material that I'll be getting into as we move forward in the book of Romans is hard to understand. But let's not let what we don't understand keep us from receiving what we do understand. Hear the word of God. Paul says, "I'm telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit". So basically what he's saying here is that his conscience and the Holy Spirit are in agreement and in alignment with what he's about to say next.
And he continues. He says, "...that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple services and the promises; whose are the fathers and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen". What is Paul saying here? Paul is saying that he's got a great sorrow and care and sadness and grief in his heart because his kinsmen, the Israelites, have rejected Jesus by and large.
Now, some Jewish people believed but the majority of Israelites, the majority of Jewish people rejected Jesus when He first came. The Bible says in the book of John concerning Yeshua, material that I'll be He came on to His own, speaking of Israel, and His own received Him not. This is what Paul was lamenting here. Paul was lamenting the fact that He's looking around at the people that he was raised with, his fellow Pharisees, the religious culture of his day that he was so intricately tied to and by and large the vast majority were rejecting Jesus. And he said that both he and the Holy Spirit were grieved and saddened, and struck in the soul by this fact. But then Paul begins to delve more deeply into what is going on. So here's what he says. "But it is not as though the word of God has failed".
What does he mean by that? Let's think again. Paul says that most of Israel has rejected the Messiah Yeshua. But then Paul says in the sixth verse, "But it is not as though the word of God has failed". In other words, if the Jewish people are God's chosen people, and Paul just got done reiterating that the law came to the Jewish people, and we received the law through the Jewish people, Paul said even the Messiah Himself came through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and was born according to the flesh as a Jew. But Paul said even though Israel is God's chosen people, the fact that they rejected Messiah does not mean that God's plan has failed.
Let me put it another way. Here's how we're going to line it up. This is that question that Paul is going to answer. If Israel is God's chosen people, which Paul just got done addressing, he said they are. If Israel is God's chosen people and Jesus Yeshua is the one true Messiah, yet Israel has rejected Him, Paul ask, "Has something gone wrong? This doesn't make sense". The chosen people have rejected the Messiah. This is the problem that Paul's addressing. And he begins by addressing it with a simple statement in verse 6. "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel nor are they all children because they're Abraham's descendants, but: 'through Isaac your descendants will be named.' That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants".
So what Paul was saying here is that, first of all, not all of Abraham's children were the line that the Messiah would come through. And now Paul is going to even clarify that, and he saying, and it's not even all of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom the promise is going to come through. And Paul goes beyond that. He says, Not everyone that's born an Israelite or born as a Jew is a chosen individual as it relates to God's elective purpose that results in individual salvation. I'm saying it in another way, in even simpler terms. Paul is saying that not every physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not everybody that was born an Israelite or born a Jew is chosen. So Paul is saying, even though the majority have not received Jesus of the Israelite people, Paul said that doesn't equate to God's plan failing because not all of them, not every Israelite, and not every Jew was chosen and elected by the Father for salvation before the foundation of the world.
Now, that statement that I just made I know it's hard to digest. And this is why Paul is going to take all of Romans 9, 10, 11 to answer and to fully address what I just said. If you'll listen to what he says, if you'll simply open your heart to only receive what is written, you will be able to come to a whole new level of Revelation. And in coming to this new level of revelation in regards to the doctrine of election or God choosing individuals to be his sons and daughters, even as He chose Israel out of all the peoples of the face of the earth to be a separate people, if you can receive this, it will greatly strengthen you in being secure in your relationship with God. So all I'm asking you to do is not to believe me, but to simply receive the Word.
So let's continue on. So Paul said, "But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: 'through Isaac..." So it was Abraham, and not all his children that the promise was going through but the promise upon Abraham went through the line of Isaac. "Through Isaac your descendants shall be named". And then he continues. "That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants". Continuing verse 9 the Lord says, "For this is the word of promise: 'At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.' And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac...'"
So what Paul is showing here is that Isaac through Rebekah was going to bear twins. But the twins, though both come in through Isaac's seed, and through his wife Rebekah did not both have the same favor on them. God's favor was on one of the twins, but not the other. So listen. "And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father, Isaac, for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose, according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, who was said to her, 'The elder will serve the younger.' Just as it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated'"
Let's go back and try to think this through. And if you have your Bible, you can get your Bible open and walk through it with me. Go back and read it later. Paul is making the point that God's favor is not on everyone. Even as the Lord said to Israel, you have I chosen to be a people for myself, out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, not because you are great a number, but because I was keeping the oath that I swore to Abraham and because I loved you. So too what we're seeing is the same God that chose Israel out of all the peoples around the world, the same God is choosing individuals for a special sonship relationship with Him.
You see, God called Israel His Son. God didn't choose the Amalekites, He didn't choose the Jebusites, He didn't choose the Amorites, He didn't choose all the other rites, but he chose Israel. Do that make Him unfair? No, because God can choose who He wants. And God said He didn't choose Israel because they were great. In fact, God said they were a stubborn and a stiff-necked people. God shows them not based on who they were but simply because of who God is. What Paul is showing us here is in the same way at the present time God has a chosen people. And those whom He has chosen are not chosen because there was something better in them. Even if there was not something better in Israel compared to the other peoples of the world. The only thing that was better about Israel was what God made them to be.
And so listen again. Paul is now bringing this argument logically forward by talking about Isaac and Rebekah. Rebekah has twins, Jacob and Esau. And now Paul says that God made the statement in the Torah before the twins were even born. Paul's whole point is, is that God is going to make a declaration over their lives before they're even born. And then Paul continues he said, "Neither had yet done anything either good or bad. And yet, before they were born, neither have done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, not because there was something in one of the twins that wasn't in the other". It was said to her, "The elder I loved, Esau I hated".
So listen once again. Track with me now. Track with me, please. "And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac..." One father, twins in the womb. Verse 11, "For though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works..." In other words, not because of anything they were going to do, not because of something that had to do with one of them being better than the other. Paul said rather so that it would depend on God's purpose and His choice, in verse 11. It was said to her, "The older will serve the younger just as it is written, 'Jacob I loved and Esau I hated.'"
Now, if some of you were able to hear what I said, there probably is arising in some of you something in your heart that's rising up and saying, "That's not right. That's not fair. That's not God. That couldn't be right that God would choose one and not the other". Listen to the next verse. Paul knows that you're going to feel that way. That's why the very next verse he wrote, beloved, in the Word of God is this. "What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be"!
Paul is saying God chose Jacob and He didn't choose Esau. Some argue, well, He knew what they were going to do. God made the choice to choose Jacob and not Esau because God knows the future and He knew what they were going to do. That's why he chose Jacob and not Esau. But beloved one, let's open up our hearts to the Word of God. Paul is trying to communicate the exact opposite of that. He was saying that God made the choice before they were born, neither having done anything good or bad, not because God has foreknowledge of what they're going to do but rather Paul said it was because it would be based on God's choice. His purpose rather than on man's goodness.
So Paul said it was said He's going to choose one and not the other that are dependent, verse 11, according to His choice and not because of works. And then you know that if you're reacting to that, you're hearing it correctly because Paul knew that when he said this, people would object. And that's why he said, "What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be"! See, beloved, if Paul would have been saying God chose Jacob because He knew Jacob would want the blessing, because remember Jacob wanted his father to bless him and he deceived his father and stole the blessing from Esau.
And so some would say, Well, God knew that Jacob was so hungry for God, that's why He chose him where Esau didn't care. But beloved, Paul is absolutely making the point it had nothing to do with Jacob's goodness or Esau's lack of goodness. Because Paul says here, "It was not according to them doing anything either good or bad". It's not by works of righteous which we do but according to His mercy. If Paul would have been saying that God made the choice because He knew that Jacob was going to want the blessing, then no one would object. No one would say that wasn't fair. But because Paul saying it had nothing to do with Jacob or Esau's goodness, it had nothing to do with the individual or what lie within the individual of Jacob or Esau, but it only has to do with God's sovereign choice, independent of anything within them, that's when people object that God's not fair that he would choose one and not the other.
And this is why Paul says here, "What should we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be"! He continues on. "For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion". In other words, Paul is saying, God can be kind who He wants to be kind to. If God wants to show grace to Jacob and not to Esau, that's God's prerogative. He's God. In other words, people said that's not fair that God would choose Jacob and not Esau. Paul's answer to that is, "What? You think He's unjust? God is God". Verse 15, "God can show mercy on whom He wants. I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion".
So then Paul continues to reiterate everything that I said. "So that it does not depend on the man who wills or on the man who runs". It's not dependent on man, it's dependent on God. "...but on God who has mercy". For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. God is sovereign. That's exactly what I'm telling you, beloved ones. Like it or not, it's exactly what the Word of God is teaching us here. This is what Paul said. Again verse 16, "So that it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy". God can show mercy to whom He wants to show mercy. That's His prerogative.
Listen, if I had 100 people in front of me and none of them had earned anything from me, none of them had worked for me, I didn't owe any of them a nickel, 100 people lined up in front of me. And I just went up to one of those 100 people and gave the one $100 bill just because I wanted to saying, "You know what? I just want to bless you," and I gave the one out of 100 $100 bill, would I be guilty for not giving the other 99 $100 bill? No, because none of them deserved it. It would have just been my grace that gave the one $100 bill. It's the same thing with salvation. All of humanity is guilty before God and deserving hell, but God in His mercy elected to choose and save a remnant. And beloved, that is you and I. And the only thing left for us to do is not to argue with Him but to get on our knees and thank Him.