Day 39: Romans 11:25-36

So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,

“Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”
“And this is my covenant with them,
    when I take away their sins.”

As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him,
    to receive a gift in return?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:25-36 (NRSV)

In today’s reading Paul brings up the topic of Jew and Gentile for the third time in the book of Romans.  Each time he expounds on the topic more and more.  His message is to both people groups, and it is pretty clear.  If you were born into God’s family as a Jew you should not boast, because Israel has been disobedient to God’s will.  If you were not born a Jew but converted to God as a Gentile, then you should be thankful and not look down on the people who made your salvation possible.

The hardening that Paul refers to is when someone rebels against God’s will and God allows that person or nation to continue in that rebellion instead of judging them immediately.  By doing this God allows a space of time in which “other things” can happen.  With God these “other things” always include God blessing other people and nations.

Paul begins this section by telling his readers that he doesn’t want them to be ignorant of a mystery.  The mystery is this: How is God saving all of His people?  More specifically, how is He saving all the rebellious nations of the world through a people that are part of the problem as well as part of the solution? Complicating matters more, how is God going to do all of this while at the same time remaining true to His creation and faithful to His covenants?  God’s solution to this complex problem is mercy and grace through the death and resurrection of his son.  It is such a surprising answer to such a deep mystery that all Paul can do at the end of this chapter is offer his praise to God. He gives us one of his best Doxologies: “Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”

Justin Lewis, Facilities and Young Adult Ministry Director

Brad Taylor