Down through the centuries people have hurled many accusation against God. I'm sure you have heard things such as, "If God is love how could He allow that to happen?" Which is an accusation against God's love. The bible says that God is love, but many question that. Some say, "It's not fair that innocent people suffer and babies die." Or, "it's not right that men like Hitler, Jeffery Dalmar, or Ted Bundy were allowed to live. There's no justice when good people struggle and wicked people live in great prosperity." Have you ever defended God against people's accusations? I hope so, many people's view of God is far from biblical. We need to know and proclaim the truth of who God is. When we defend the Righteousness and justice of God, we are giving a "Theodicy." A theodicy is a vindication or defense of God. To vindicate means to: 1. Clear from criticism, suspicion, blame. 2. Defend against opposition. It is to say that what God is doing is absolutely just and righteous. It is to proclaim the God of the Bible.
The book of Habakkuk is in part a theodicy, it is a vindication of God's justice in using a wicked heathen nation to chastize His chosen people. Malachi is in part a theodicy, it is a vindication of God's justice in allowing His people to still be under foreign domination and to be in poverty while the wicked heathen are living so prosperously.
I believe that the Scripture's greatest theodicy is found in Romans 9-11. This is the greatest vindication of God's righteousness and justice found anywhere in the pages of Scripture. The book of Romans is fundamentally a book about God. Romans can be divided into three sections. Chapters 1-8 show us God's sovereign plan for salvation. Then in chapters 9-11 Paul shows how Jew and Gentile fit into God's plan of salvation. The third section is in chapters 12-16, it is a series of exhortations to live in harmony with each other. It deals with practical Christian living.
In light of what Paul had taught in the first eight chapters of Romans, a vindication is necessary. Let me explain. The Jewish people had rejected the gospel, they had rejected Christ. Here's the problem-- the whole Old Testament was simply packed with promises that God made to the Jewish nation. They were Messianic promises, promises which went with the Christ, the Messiah. For example the promise of the New Covenant was made to the Jewish people.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NKJV) "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Now, if the Jewish nation will not accept Jesus as Messiah, then the unbelieving Jew would say that there are two possible conclusions; either the gospel that Paul is preaching is not true, because the Jews reject it, or else if it is true, then the promises of God to Israel have failed, because the Messiah and blessing to Israel were connected inseparable. The Jews would say either Jesus Christ is not the true Messiah or the Word of God has proven false.
In Romans 9-11 Paul shows that the promises made to Israel are true and the gospel is true also.
Romans 1:16 (NKJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Romans 2:10 (NKJV) but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
"To the Jew first" -- how does this square with the falling away and soon coming destruction of the nation Israel? How can the message of salvation be true when the people it was for, have rejected it and will be destroyed? Paul answers these questions in Romans 9-11.
Romans 4:3 (NKJV) For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."
Romans 4:11 (NKJV) And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,
If Abraham is the father of all that believe, how is it than, that it was preeminently Abraham's decedents who declined the believe the gospel? Paul answers that in Romans 9.
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This passage deals with security. Now, think about this, this is where it gets real practical for you and me. If God rejected the nation of Israel, if they did not receive the promises made to them, what assurance do we have that He will keep his word to us? What security do we have? If God set aside Israel, couldn't he set aside us? Without spiritual security we live in fear of death, fear of your sins being held against you and coming under the wrath of God. How could we possibly have security if God broke his promise to Israel? Did God break his promises to Israel? No! His promises were misunderstood, they were to true Jews, not to national Israel.
Romans 2:28-29 (NKJV) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
Romans 9:6 (NKJV) But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel,
God's justice and righteousness is called into question, so in chapters 9-11, Paul vindicates the justice and righteousness of God. These chapters are a theodicy and they show us how Jews and Gentiles fit into God's plan of salvation.
This is a misunderstood section of Scripture. Some call Romans 9-11 a parentheses. They say that Paul is diverting from his major theme of justification by faith, and he just drops in this section on Israel, and then he returns to his major subject in chapter 12. They say that 12:1 should follow 8:39. Chapter 12 could come after chapter 8 but we'd have a lot of unanswered questions if it did. Chapters 9-11 are not parenthetical, they are crucial to Paul's argument.
One writer has said, "Paul is now finished dealing with the doctrinal points of his letter." He is very wrong. Romans 9-11 deals with one of the most basic, most fundamental doctrines of the Bible. The emphasis in these chapters is on the absolute sovereignty of God. I would say that Romans 9 is the normative passage in Scripture dealing with the Sovereignty of God. Romans 9 is difficult for many folks to handle because it so strongly affirms the sovereignty of God.
We want to look at the first five verses this morning, which are an introduction to the chapter.
Romans 9:1-3 (NKJV) I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,
Israel's rejection of Christ is a great sorrow of heart to Paul, he deeply loves his fellow kinsman. "I say the truth" -- a claim to personal honesty. Paul was looked upon by the Jews as an enemy, a traitor. He wants them to know that he cares for them. "In Christ" -- in conscienceness of my union with Christ, I declare He is my witness, my life. He's calling on Christ to witness the honesty of his claim. He also does this in:
Romans 1:9 (NKJV) For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers,
This is not a political move to win a hearing. Paul really cares for them. "I lie not," He also uses this in:
2 Corinthians 11:30-31 (NKJV) If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.
Here he is saying that he really does glory in his infirmities and he calls God to witness to it. Can you do that? Can you call God to witness to the truthfulness of what you say? Are you that honest?
"My conscience also bearing me witness" -- conscience is that activity by which we judge ourselves and bring our own conduct under scrutiny. Paul's conscience didn't accuse him because he did what was right. Can we always trust our conscience? Only if it has been programed correctly. It is somewhat like a computer, if you put garbage in you will get garbage out. This is a good reason to memorize Scripture. If you memorize the Word, it will give you the proper perspective on life's circumstances.
Psalms 119:11 (NKJV) Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!
Romans 14:22-23 (NKJV) Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
If you think that something is wrong and you do it, your conscience will condemn you. You should not violate your conscience, if you doubt, don't. For example, when I was a young Christian the fellowship that I was attending taught that it was wrong for men to have a beard. I accepted that teaching and so for me, it would have been wrong to have a beard, my conscience would have condemned me. Once my understanding was reprogrammed with the truth, beards were no longer an issue.
So how does Paul know that his conscience isn't misprogramed? He says, "in the Holy Spirit" -- the Holy Spirit is controlling his conscience through the illumination of the Word. Paul calls two witnesses, Christ and the Holy Spirit.
He must have something important to say. What is it?
Romans 9:2 (NKJV) that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart.
The Greek word for "great sorrow" is lupe, it means sorrow, grief, pain, used of people mourning. If you have ever lost a loved one, then you know what this word means, you have experienced this type of pain. He also says that his sorrow is continual. The word for sorrow is odune, it means consuming grief. It is used only here and in:
1 Timothy 6:10 (NKJV) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
This is really how Paul feels about the Jews, this is Christ like love. Paul had plenty of reason to hate the Jews, which makes this statement so remarkable. The Jews hated Paul because they hated Christ, and he was Christ's representative.
Galatians 6:17 (NKJV) From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Paul bore in his body their hatred for Christ. They saw him a traitor. He started out to stop the Christian movement and he ended up leading it after his conversion in Acts 9.
Acts 9:20-25 (NKJV) Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. 21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?" 22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ. 23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him. 24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him. 25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.
Paul was able to prove from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ and because of this, the Jews tried to kill him.
Acts 13:14-16 (NKJV) But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on." 16 Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, "Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen:
Acts 13:23 (NKJV) "From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior; Jesus;
Acts 13:38-39 (NKJV) "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; 39 "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
Acts 13:44-50 (NKJV) On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 "For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'" 48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
Because of Paul's preaching of Jesus as the Christ, the Savior of all mankind, the Jews hated him and tried to kill him.
Acts 14:19 (NKJV) Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
Acts 20:1-3 (NKJV) After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia. 2 Now when he had gone over that region and encouraged them with many words, he came to Greece 3 and stayed three months. And when the Jews plotted against himas he was about to sail to Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.
It was at this point that Paul wrote Romans. They were plotting to kill him, they had stoned him, they had stirred up the people against him wherever he went, and he writes of his love for them. They saw Paul as an enemy of Judaism.
Acts 21:28-32 (NKJV) crying out, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place." 29 (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 30 And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut. 31 Now as they were seeking to kill him, news came to the commander of the garrison that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. 32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. And when they saw the commander and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.
Acts 23:10 (NKJV) Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
Paul, from the beginning to the end of his ministry, was hated by the Jews. He preached out of love for them and they wanted him dead. Yet he kept on preaching.
2 Corinthians 11:24 (NKJV) From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
They caused trouble wherever he preached, they continually tried to kill him. He had been stoned and beaten five times by the Jews. How do you respond when someone just disagrees with your theology, or says alienates you because of what you believe? Those of us who hold to the doctrine of preterism are persecuted and disfellowshiped by many of the futurist for proclaiming what is the truth of Scripture. Many don't want to hear what we have to say. We in a very small way, can relate to Paul and his rejection because of his doctrine. Now let me ask you this, "Can we relate to his undying, genuine love for those who persecuted him? Are persecution is but a fraction of what he experienced and yet we don't respond with a fraction of his love. Why is that?
Paul was a man under the control of the Holy Spirit and Christ's love was manifest through him. He lived what he preached. He loved his enemies for Christ's sake.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV) Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Paul makes it clear in the first two verses of Romans 9 that Israel's failure to accept his doctrine of salvation by God in Christ was a cause of unceasing sorrow to him.
Romans 9:3 (NKJV) For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,
This is unbelievable! Paul is saying, "I love you people so much that I'd go to hell to get you saved, if it was possible. Paul says, "I could wish," not I do wish. It is an idiomatic construction used here for stating an impossible wish. Paul couldn't actually become separated from Christ.
Romans 8:35-39 (NKJV) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The word Paul uses here, "accursed" is the Greek word, anathema, it means, devoted to destruction, cut off, or separated from Christ. Great difficulty arises from pressing the words too far. This is not the language of deliberation but of heartbreaking passion.
Moses expressed this same sentiment in:
Exodus 32:31-32 (NKJV) Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! 32 "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin; but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."
What Moses and Paul never could have done, Christ did. According to Galatians 3:13, Christ became a curse for us. Do you understand this type of love, a passionate concern for those who hate you and try to harm you? Why not? What did Paul have that we don't? I believe that we can and should live like this. We are called to love our enemies.
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV) "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
We can love like this if we are dependant upon Christ.
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Paul calls them "brethren," this is the only time Paul uses this term of the Jews. He generally uses it of Christians. He qualifies it for us by saying, "My countryman according to the flesh." He is speaking of the physical decedents of Abraham.
Paul wanted them to know that he was not their enemy. He cared for them deeply. Their rejection of Christ cause him great pain. As Jews they were very privileged people.
Romans 9:4-5 (NKJV) who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Paul's attachment to Israel is not due merely to natural ties. It is accentuated by the place Israel occupied in the history of revelation. Look at their great privileges.
"Who are Israelites" -- a name of dignity. Jacob was called Israel, which means "Prince of God."
"To whom pertain the Adoption" -- this expression is applied to the Jews only here in the NT, normally used of Christians. Israel did not naturally belong to the heavenly family. This is God's electing grace.
Deuteronomy 7:6-7 (NKJV) "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. 7 "The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;
Deuteronomy 14:2 (NKJV) "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
"And the Glory" -- the visible manifestation of the invisible God. God was manifest by the pillar of fire of cloud which gave them guidance and protection. It indicated to them, God's presence.
"And the Covenants" -- Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New Covenant were all given to Israel and only to Israel.
"the giving of the Law" -- only Israel had God's law.
"and the service of God" -- ceremonial system which pictured Christ.
"And the Promises" -- the Messianic promises were all given to Israel.
"of whom are the Fathers" -- Godly heritage.
"and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came" -- Paul says that Christ came to the Jewish people. He was their messiah. The antecedent of "whom," is not the fathers but the Israelites. Christ was born a Jew, and in Him all of God's promises to Israel reach their consummation.
"Who is over all God blessed forever" -- this speaks of the deity of Christ. Jesus Christ was the God-Man. He was 100% God and 100% man. He was the theonthropic person.
We could sum it up as follows; It greaves me deeply that in spite of all the remarkable advantages which God has showered on Israel, they have rejected the gospel. Has the purpose of God been frustrated? No! God is in total control as we will see in the weeks to come.
Paul was not simply fulfilling some divine duty in preaching the gospel. He truly loved and cared about people and his love for them was not dependant upon their treatment of Him.
How can we love like this? Only through the power of the indwelling Christ. We are to yield ourselves to Him and allow Him to work through us. Paul had the mind of Christ and so should we.
Philippians 2:3-5 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Do you have the attitude of Christ, self-sacrifice for the needs of others? Is the glorious gospel of the blessed God so wonderful to you that you want to give it out even to those who hate you and hurt you? Is your love for God so deep that you share His gospel with even your enemies?
John 14:15 (NKJV) "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
Do you love Him? He commands us to love our enemies, and to share the gospel with a lost and dying world.