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The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Romans by the Book (Lesson 74)

Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4

Romans by the Book                                                                        Lesson 74

Welcome to Home Bible Study.
And thank you for electing to study your Bible with us.

If you’ve just dropped by for a visit please know we’ve been diligently studying the book of Romans for several months.  Lessons #1 thru #73 are available on this website and you may study these at your own pace.  We completed our review of chapter 8 two weeks ago and I’m currently “setting the stage” for our study of RC9.

After carefully considering this parenthetical segment of Paul’s letter and its subject matter particularly, I thought it would benefit the group to review Jewish antiquities before we started this new chapter.  I chose this path because so many people know so little about the Jews, their history, and the Old Testament in particular.  So, I started at the beginning, when the LORD God called Abram to be the father of a great nation, and he responded, in faith, believing what the LORD God had said, and I ended it where the Jews and the Gentiles conspired to kill God’s Son, their Messiah, and then crucified Him on a tree (Psalms 2:1-3; Galatians 3:13).  Jewish history didn't end there, of course.
I chose to pause at this event for a reason which will soon be revealed.

With last week’s lesson still fresh in our minds, we’re ready to tackle Paul’s opening paragraph.  If you’ll please open your Bible to Romans, chapter 9, we’ll start by reading some Scripture together.

Romans 9

1: I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit,

2: that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.

3: For I could wish (pray) that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,

4: 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 service and the promises,

5: whose are the fathers, (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever.  Amen

After I read the first three verses this thought came to my mind:

Have you ever cared for something greater than yourself?

If you are currently serving in the military or if you have worn the uniform in the past we know something about sacrifice and service not only to this nation but also to our fellow brothers and sisters in arms.  Therefore, the phrase, “some gave all” holds special meaning to a veteran.

This latter demonstration of compassion is difficult to express in words.  To simply say that an individual “cared”  for another so deeply that they put themselves “in harm’s way,” or “laid down their life” for another is less than adequate considering their sacrifice.

Carrying this thought into our Bible lesson and with Paul’s first three verses in mind, our Apostle Paul’s love for his brethren (the Jews) is without question.  If we had nothing else from him in Scripture to go by, these compassionate opening remarks would suffice to say the least. 

Paul’s counterpart Moses had equal compassion for idolatrous Israel in the Old Testament.  While he was atop Mt Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the LORD God, God’s chosen nation was down below worshipping a man made calf of gold, claiming it was this idol who rescued them from Egypt.  The LORD God wanted to destroy them (Exodus 32:7-10).  Moses pleaded with Him to spare the people and forgive their sin.  But if not, Moses asked the LORD God to, “…please blot me out from your book which you have written!”  (Exodus 32:31-35).

Just as it is difficult to estimate the measure of love in a soldier or sailor who has laid down their life for another, it is equally as difficult to measure the love and compassion of Moses and Paul for their brethren.  I assure you our best attempt would fall well short of the goal.  Dr. John A. Bengel (1687-1752) put it this way:  “…our limited reason cannot grasp it, as the child cannot comprehend the courage of warriors!”

Filling in the Background

Paul knew many of the Jews were zealous (devoutly religious).  They gave themselves wholeheartedly to what they believed, just as Paul once did (Galatians 1:13-14). 
Unfortunately, they lacked the right understanding of what God had accomplished and was presently doing through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote, “For I testify about them that they a have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with (heart) knowledge.” (Romans 10:2)

The LORD God had committed Himself to bless the nation of Israel yet now they’ve been nationally set aside, while Paul’s gospel goes out to both Jew and Gentile - for now there is no difference (Galatians 3:28).  

Paul's dilemma:  if God is committed to His chosen people, even though they have been disobedient and unfaithful, how does Paul reconcile the no distinction between Jew and Gentile program now in place?

Now let's read verses 4-5.

Romans 9

4: who are Israelites, to whom belongs the (Divine national) adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,

5: whose are the fathers, (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever.  Amen

I’ve underlined several matters in these two verses in which the nation of Israel differed from all the other nations.  These items belonged to Israel and still belong to Israel today despite the unfaithfulness of the people. 

In my opening statement I said I would reveal why I stopped our tour through Jewish antiquities at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and here we are.  Starting with verse 4 and ending at verse 5, one of the first things I take note of is there are 8 matters all totaled with the eighth consideration being Jesus Christ Himself.

I don’t believe these 8 matters listed here are an accidental occurrence or that Paul sat alone for hours trying to come up with eight items exactly before he dictated this letter to Tertius.  I do believe the Holy Spirit was working through Paul as he spoke to his co-worker in Christ. 

I also don't think it was a coincidence that Paul named Jesus Christ as the eighth matter belonging to the nation of Israel.  The number 8 by itself in Scripture is associated with Resurrection and Regeneration and the beginning of a New Order of Things. 

It has been said that God is the great Geometrician and does everything after a plan and by number, weight, and measure.  Therefore, every careful reader of Scripture should be aware that there are certain numbers which appear frequently in both the Old and the New Testaments such as:  4, 7, 10, 12, 40, 70, and so on.  These numbers and others like them have a "symbolic" significance. 

Here are just a few examples of how this is represented in Scripture:

Noah was the eighth person (2 Peter 2:5) and his family consisted of 8 people.

Abraham was commanded to circumcise every male child on the eighth day (Genesis 17:11-14) - this rite symbolized that Abraham and his descendents were a New Race.

Abraham sired 8 sons (Ishmael, Issac, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah).

David was the eighth son of Jesse; he introduced a New Order in Israel (1 Samuel 16:10-11).

Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the first day of the New Week - the eighth day.

Jesus showed Himself alive 8 times after His resurrection:  Mary Magdalene, Mark 16:9-11; two disciples on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24; all the disciples except Thomas, John 20:19-24; one week later He appeared to them all, including Thomas, John 20:26-29; according to Paul, Jesus was seen by 500 Believers at one time 1 Corinthians 15:4-7; Jesus met His disciples at the appointed place in Galilee, Matthew 28:16-17; and on Galilee's shores, John 21:1-24; His final meeting was on the Mt of Olives, where he gave His followers instructions before ascending to heaven, Acts 1.

Eight is the number of Jesus, whose name in the Greek adds up to 888.

The New Testament was written by 8 men (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, Jude, and Paul).

Now I want to take the time to examine each one of these 8 matters so that we can fully appreciate the blessings God gave the nation of Israel. 

1) (Divine national) adoption as sons – I prefer to let this book do the talking.  “Israel is My son, My firstborn… (Exodus 4:22)

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your (Jehovah) God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.  (Deuteronomy 7:6)

“You only have I chosen (known) among all the families of the earth;  (Amos 3:2)
God’s election of Israel as His chosen people is eternal, per Scripture:  “For just as the new heavens and the new earth Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, “So your offspring and your name will endure.”   (Isaiah 66:22)

2)  the glory – the LORD went before His people, leading them through the wilderness, in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night (Exodus 13:20-21).

The LORD led them safely through the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13-31).

Some may not be aware of finer details such as the LORD commanding Moses to, “make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”  (Exodus 25:8; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14). 

God has not dwelt among or interacted with any other nation in this manner.

3)  the covenants – earlier Paul wrote, "...what advantage has the Jew?  Or what is the benefit of circumcision?  Paul answers:  "Great in every respect.  First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God" (Romans 3:1-2). 

The Israelites had every advantage (and still do) and the gentiles had none.  The Bible speaks of 7 different covenants, four of these are with the nation of Israel (Abrahamic, Palestinian, Mosaic, and Davidic), of these four three are unconditional which means regardless of what the nation of Israel does (obedience or disobedience) God will still fulfill these covenants with His people.  Only the Mosaic covenant was conditional; it brought blessing or a curse depending on Israel's obedience or disobedience.  The remaining three covenants are between God and mankind in general.  These are the Adamic Covenant (Grace), The Edenic Covenant (Innocence), and the Noahic Covenant (which ushered in the dispensation of Human Government).

But God's purpose and plan for the nation of Israel began with the call of Abram and the Abrahamic Covenant.  This unilateral covenant between God and Abraham is the foundation for all subsequent covenants God made with the nation of Israel.  God's plan in making the covenants was for Israel to become a "nation of priests" and "a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6; Zechariah 8:22-23; 1 Peter 2:9). 

God revealed in the Abrahamic Covenant that the Gentiles would be blessed through Israel and this is the only path by which a gentile may be saved - for salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22).  Not only does this mean that the Savior of all mankind would come from the Jewish nation but Jesus Himself said this about the Jews.  They are, "...the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13)

4)  the Law - as Paul said, it was a great thing to be entrusted with God's law.  I'll take this one step further.  Every writer of Scripture is a Jew.  The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses and are referred to as the Pentateuch which means, "five books." They are also known as the books of the law because they contain the laws and instructions given by the LORD God through Moses to the people of Israel.  The Jews are literally the custodians of God's Word (Deuteronomy 6:7; 11:19). 

5)  the temple service - the word service in the Greek translated is Latreia and means, the service and worship of God according to requirements.  We're talking about God's requirements which were "prescribed" to the nation of Israel only and in great detail in relation to tabernacle worship and afterwards to temple worship.  Since the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD by the Titus and his legions the Jews have not had the temple service.  But once the peace treaty is signed between the nation of Israel and the antichrist temple worship will resume (Daniel 9:27).

6)  the promises - there isn't enough space here to record for you all the promises Jehovah made to His favored nation Israel.  Two things worth mentioning:  these promises were made to the Jews.  They were not given to any gentile nation, even though many have appropriated them unto themselves.

FYI:  there is a difference between God's promises and His covenants with Israel. 
Here are but a few examples of God's promises to His chosen people:

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Peter 1:4).

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil (Proverbs 1:33)

7)  the fathers - when referencing "the fathers," while discussing the nation of Israel, you have to go back to the beginning, once again, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for these are known as the Patriarchs of both the physical and spiritual Judaism.  These men founded the religion known as Judaism and their descendents are the Jewish people.  It would be incorrect to label Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob a Jew, since the term was not used generally for hundreds of years after their time.  All Believers  in Christ Jesus have a spiritual connection to Abraham (Galatians 3:14, 3:29).

8)  the Christ (Messiah) - last on Paul's list but hardly least is Jesus Christ, Himself.  
At Romans 1:3 Paul states, "concerning His Son, who was born a descendent of David according to the flesh...," then at John 1:14 we learn, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us...," and in the book of Hebrews 2:16 we read, "...He gives help to the descendents of Abraham."  
If you'll turn to the book of Matthew, chapter 1, you'll discover that this apostle follows the seed of Jesus Christ back to David, and to Abraham (Matthew 1:1).  I wanted you to see this and then hopefully you'll recognize it for what it is.  It's an exclusive honor for the nation of Israel - outranking all others.  Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, is a Jew (Isaiah 9:6).

Jesus is the 8th matter on Paul's list and once again this is not by accident or coincidence.    
The number 8 represents a New Beginning and a New Order or Beginning; it also represents Resurrection and Regeneration in Scripture.  So then, I believe the Holy Spirit, working through Paul, is attempting to establish some truth with these Jews in Rome and elsewhere.

a) their Messiah had come, as promised (Genesis 3:15, 12:1-4). 

 b) since God had kept this all important covenant related promise, even though the vast majority of the Jews didn't believe in Him or His gospel, there's no reason to think for one minute that God is unfaithful.   

The reason I believe this is because of what comes next.  We have these words from our Apostle Paul, But it is not as though the word of God has failed.

(To be continued)

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