As we roll into this section of Romans, it’s important to note that Chapters 9, 10, and 11 really go together. I’ve always seen them as a cohesive unit, and the reasons for that are many. Not something that we need to dive into here; instead, let’s dive into what’s being discussed.
In the previous chapters, Paul has just finished laying out the bad news, the good news, what the good news means in our lives ideally, how we struggle living into that reality in the present, but how we can start to experience it more and more. Now, he’s transitioning to the topic of Israel. Basically the question behind the text is:
If all of this goodness opened up for those outside of Israel (the gentiles, pagans, uncircumcised, foreigners, etc.), what’s the verdict on the Jews (the insiders, the circumcised, God’s chosen people, etc.)?
Paul has a lot to say on this topic, and starting in chapter 9, he basically says the reason we, the outsiders, are in is because the Jews missed it. It’s that simple. He has a few great rhetorical questions, like:
- Are you going to complain that God is unfair?
- How can God blame us for anything if he’s in charge of everything?
- Who do you think you are to second-guess God?
- Can the clay talk back to the fingers that mold it and say why did you shape me like this?
Which leads me to a few of his great analogies about Abraham and promises vs. genetics, about pottery and clay, about stones and stumbling. So many great illustrations in this chapter, as he defends his argument.
When he sums it all up in chapter 9, he says, “All those people who didn’t seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. And Israel, who seemed interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing.”
Is it not the same today?! I’ll see you tomorrow.