Romans 9-12

The Plan Part 4

Before we leave Chapter 9 I want to address the sovereignty of God and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in verse 18. Certainly a sovereign could zap Pharaoh’s heart and make it as hard as a stone. But that is not what God did. What the righteous and just God did was put thorns and thistles in the worldly paths of life that we are tempted to take and that Pharaoh took. Genesis 3:17-19. God in His sovereignty has put consequences in every path in life that we take and every choice that we make. Some of those consequences may result in blessings, others in pain. This largely depends on the path we choose to take, but be sure of this, every path in life has a destination. The time the journey takes to get to the end of the path may well have warning signs along the way, warning us that we are on the wrong path and need to make a U-turn, but if we continue on we will reach a predetermined destination.   

Again, if we understand this we will be able to see the sovereignty of God but also the free will of man to make his choice. For more on Pharaoh and how God hardened his heart I would refer you to this link which goes into greater detail.

 It is important for us to understand this process because it has ramifications for us that we might ignore to our regret, if we do not realize the same thing could easily happen to us. This was Paul’s concern as we read in Chapter 10.

It is one thing to know you are on the wrong path by choice and quite another when you think you are on the right path yet have gone off course. This was Paul’s concern for Israel. Some of the people of Israel thought they were saved by birthright. Paul addresses this in this chapter. Jesus dealt with this same issue in John 8; others had zeal for the Law. Both of these paths are the wrong path because they had their faith in the wrong thing! In the first group their faith was in their birthright. In the second group their faith was in the Law. Neither group had their faith truly in God although it is likely that both believed they did.

I worked as a welder for years and so I decided to build a dump bed for our farm truck. I had built truck beds and trailers so I was confident I could do this. Things were going well and as I was building the upper part of the bed I was walking on the frame when suddenly I took a step and ended up on the floor. I had the talent and ability. I had the experience, but what I didn’t do was watch where I was going, so down I went. That is what happened to Israel.

We begin the paths in life that we take with faith. I had faith in my ability and experience but I had also inadvertently put my faith in pride and who I thought I was. Proverbs 16:18

Of course falling was a wakeup call for me and did not end in my destruction but there are paths we can take where the wakeup calls are more subtle or our pride blinds us to. Pride is one of them and pride can be the catalyst that hardens the heart.

So Paul continues to address the issue of faith in Chapter 10 and on into Chapter 11. He points out that their wanting the Church to follow the Old Covenant is because their hearts are set in their ways and thus hard. He is quick to point out though that their hearts are not so hard that God has rejected them. Paul is a warning sign on the path they have taken. He is warning them that there is danger ahead and they need to change paths. Hard hearts have to be broken if things are going to be changed. In 70 AD God will again, allow the Temple to be destroyed which is going to make following the Old Covenant impossible. If God is going to save His people He must take away what they have put their faith in, even if He is mocked and disrespected by the enemy. God even gave His Son so that we might be saved!  

In Chapter 11, verse 13, Paul tells us that he is now speaking to the Gentiles. The Gentile believers, and to us for that matter, have been listening to, and he hopes learning from, what he has been addressing. Now the warning goes out to the Gentiles and to the Church corporately. We are to be careful that we do not let pride get us off onto the wrong path. We dare not presume that we are on the right path if we are doing the same things Israel did and have the same attitude. So it is important for the Church today to make sure we have not left our first love as the church in Ephesus did in Revelation 2:1-7. They were doing the right things but they put their faith in the doing and not in the One they were doing them for.

So now it is time for reflection. We are in the New Covenant and also in the last days. Do you know where your faith is?

Pastor Dave