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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
Thank you for taking the time to study your Bible with us.
Let’s all turn to Romans, chapter 9 for a brief review.
So, the root problem, from the nation of Israel’s perspective, is whether God’s Word is true, whether He is faithful to His people, and to His promises (verse 6).
In verse 7, Paul gives evidence: nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants; the vast majority of Abraham’s offspring are not counted as his children; they are disinherited and there’s a reason for this. Paul quotes Genesis 21:12 to support this statement: but: THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.”
Ishmael was Abraham’s son, but he was not counted as a descendant for the purpose of the Promise – the Promise was given to the children of Isaac; he was the child of promise.
What this book is saying is, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the Promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.
This is how the Promise was stated by the LORD God: “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON” (Genesis 18:14). Only Isaac was the child of Promise. But as the book shows us God’s selectivity did not stop there. For not even all the children of Isaac were counted among the chosen people.
Let’s read verses 10-13.
10: And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;
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 but because of Him who calls,
12: it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER (Genesis 25:23).
13: Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED” (Malachi 1:2f)
As I pointed out in Lesson #68 the word “HATED” in verse 13 is man’s attempt to apply “human” emotions or other human characteristics to God. It’s a practice called Anthropomorphism and was first used in the mid 1700’s. Therefore, the word “HATED,” as it’s used here in verse 13 doesn’t mean what we think it means. It’s a Hebrew figure of speech to give emphasis to the love the LORD had for Jacob. This does not mean the LORD did not love Esau for Scripture reveals the LORD God blessed him greatly but He did not choose him as the recipient of the covenant He gave to Israel and there’s a reason for this. The “reason” is Esau was destitute of faith, he was morally bankrupt, and God couldn’t use him. Instead, the Promise was carried though the line of Jacob. This is how God mandated it.
Many people read these verses and come away believing that God shows partiality.
They picture God the Father in heaven playing a game of, “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe with the human race; choosing those He loves and leaving the rest. But the Scriptures clearly state that God does not show partiality, “For there is no impartiality with God” (Romans 2:11).
So, Jacob and Esau represent two distinct and separate categories just like the two sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael, which Paul spoke of previously. Esau was the oldest, the firstborn, and the rightful heir to Abraham’s estate and his blessing. But it was Jacob, the youngest child, who would be the representative of Judaism which was the forerunner of Christianity. Just as Paul also spoke of Sarah and Hagar saying, This is allegorically (figuratively) speaking, for these women are two covenants (Galatians 4:24). Esau represents the Old Covenant and Jacob represents the New Covenant.
The Old Covenant is subservient to the New Covenant and before these covenants even came into being, God determined the outcome. The Sovereign God determines the requirements of salvation. In a sense, one could say God “hates” the Old Covenant in that He, desires that all men be saved” (2 Timothy 2:4a). But no one will be saved under the Old Covenant because no one can live up to its demands! “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the LORD GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live… (Ezekiel 33:11a).
The Old Covenant, then, is about God’s wrath, His hatred of sin, and its effects on His creation, just as the context of the quote from Malachi indicates in the case of Esau: “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the LORD of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the LORD is indignant forever.” (Malachi 1:2-4). Edom was the land of Esau, and he married daughters of Ishmael, contrary to the LORD God’s command and to spite his parents.
In contrast to this, God loves the New Covenant, Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with (both) the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 37)
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood… (Luke 22:20)
…who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter (of the Law) but of the Spirit; for the letter (does what) kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6)
9: But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second. (Hebrews 8:7)
God preordained that His Son would come to earth, in human form, to freely die for the sins of all mankind, before the foundation of the world; thus making salvation possible for all those who would believe (trust) in His death, burial, and resurrection (Acts 2:22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 1 Peter1:20a; Revelation 13:8b).
Let’s read verses 14-16.
14: What shall we say then: There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!
15: For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION” (Exodus 33:19).
16: So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
God is not obligated to dole out His mercy to anyone. In like manner, Christian charity would not be charity if it were required. In addition, if justice has been satisfied, grace does not conflict with justice nor does the withholding of grace conflict with justice.
Having paid the sin-penalty debt owed to God, by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God’s judicial nature was satisfied completely with regards to sin. Now, God can freely dispense grace on His own terms by whatever means He sees fit. Or, on the other hand, God could decide to withhold His grace. It’s His choice, not ours for God is sovereign.
A good example of this is found in the book of Ephesians: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
How is an individual saved today? Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ finished work of the cross, plus nothing. Keep in mind the reason Paul is going through all this is to point out, in chapters 9-11, to the unbelieving Israelites who took offense at the idea that salvation is granted solely to those who believe the Gospel of Grace. There were many who fought against this idea and rigidly willed it not so!
Even today there are those within Christian denominations who think that children born of Christian parents are “automatically” members of the New Covenant or saved. This bypasses the requirement of “choice” and “faith” in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for one’s salvation so we have a problem here…a very big problem.
God chooses to have mercy on those who come to believe in His Son, the One He Sent to save all mankind from the penalty of their sins.
17: For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”
18: So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
People have grabbed these verses and used them wrongfully in teaching predestination.
In truth, Paul is saying a person can’t choose whom God chooses to have mercy on. Scripture clearly says who God will have mercy on. Make no mistake about that. We’ve covered this fact in great detail today and in many other Bible lessons. The key is faith, once again. God has “predestined” that in this dispensation all those who answer His call to believe in His Son, will be “conformed” to His image; a process known as sanctification.
But there’s a flip-side to this. Just as there is a category of people to whom God has chosen to show mercy (grace) on those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, so also there are those whom God has chosen to “harden their hearts.” Pharaoh was such a person. But if you study the situation instead of just reading through it you’ll find that those whom God chooses to harden are “those who are proud.” Exodus 8:15 says, But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his (own) heart and did not listen to them, (Moses and Aaron) as the LORD had said.
Proverbs 28:14 says, “How blessed (happy) is the man who fears (the LORD) always, But he who (does what) hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
From this we learn the choice is ours. God has ordained it such that pride “hardens” the heart and this in turn desensitizes a person to the things of God. In contrast, humility is a virtue God looks for in a individual. This is a person God can work with…for it is the most essential of character qualities. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word…” (Isaiah 66:2b).
(To be continued)
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