by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 9 Paragraph # 1 Study # 11 September 23, 2008 Lincolnton, N.C.
(436)Thesis:Being "in the lineage" was a manifest privilege that was squandered for a "bowl of beans".
Introduction:As we have worked our way through the litany of "special advantages" possessed by the Israelites, we have seen two stark realities: first, that the "advantages" did not do the vast majority of them any good at all (rather, it increased their damnation -- Matthew 11:22); and, second, that this squandering of advantage is a matter of significant, godly, grief.
We have also seen that Paul set up his presentation of these "special advantages" in a deliberate order that placed the "future" first and the "mechanics of that future" afterwards. And we saw last week that those "mechanics" really boil down to two basic realities: there is the fundamental reality of the "principle" of covenant/promise which has primarily to do with the unilateral activity of God; and there is the more fundamental reality of the "principle" of the divine methodology of "revelation" regarding this unilateral action (the existence of a unilaterally acting God of covenant/promise does man little good if he has no sure knowledge of Him).
This evening we are going to look into the meaning and significance of the second "whose" phrase: "whose are the fathers". What we want to know is what it means to be "in the lineage" and why Paul brought that up.
I. A Prejudicial Old Testament Record: Genesis 25:29-34.
A. The record is of a man "in the lineage" at a critical place: firstborn.
B. The record is of a man whose "life attitude" was fundamentally hedonistic.
C. According to Hebrews 12:16, the record is of a man who became a contrary standard for "falling short of the grace of God".
II. Paul's Meaning in Romans 9:5.
A. Moses gave this "meaning" succinctly in Deuteronomy 10:15 (10:14-17).
1. A most significant aspect of this "meaning" is in the phrase, "...even you above all peoples...".
a. This means that He had given, by divine fiat, a position of status beyond imagination.
b. This means that the greatest indication of Israel's rejection of Yahweh's "delight in the fathers" was to be a continual striving for a status that ultimately means absolutely nothing.
c. That Jesus was delivered up by Israel because of this evil striving is the definitive declaration of both Matthew 27:18 and Mark 15:10.
2. A most significant implication of this "meaning" is given in 10:16: the privilege is to be honored with a correspondingly legitimate response [Note the Old Testament example of Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:25].
B. Paul was drawing from the Old Testament reality of God's special election.
1. In Romans 11:28 he argues that the believers need to grasp the point of being "of the fathers".
2. In the statement of Jesus in Matthew 23:31-33 there is a tacit recognition that this reality is not something that can be abused with impunity.
3. In Genesis there is a highly developed "theology" of "the God of the fathers".
a. Genesis 28:13 gives indication of the "point".
b. Genesis 31 highlights the reality in verse five as well as in the conversation of Laban and Jacob in verses twenty-nine and following.
4. In Ephesians 2:11-12 Paul confirms the legitimacy -- for a time -- of this type of thinking.
C. Paul was making one thing very clear: proximity to blessing is a great advantage.
III. Some Implications For Our Consideration.
A. There is this plain fact in our text: proximity did not do Israel any good.
B. Grief over this failure was the apostle's response.
C. Paul was God's representative in this grief.
1. Many of us would ask this question: if people are of such a perverse nature that the highest honors given by God mean little to nothing to them, why waste any grief on them?
2. Those of us who would think this thought need to ask these questions.
a. What is the alternative? Those who close themselves off from the grief because it will be fruitless become two things: first, they become less like their God -- notmore -- because He refuses to close Himself off from the grief (1 Timothy 2:4); and, second, they become more like those who have no hope -- notless -- because of the incipient hardness of heart that closes off one's "bowels of compassion" (1 John 3:17; Colossians 3:12).
b. What is the final reality? There is a day coming when "Death" will be "swallowed up" by "Life" (1 Corinthians 15:54) and everyone who "wasted" his emotional energy by "feeling sorry for" those who were irremediably lost will find that the "waste" actually generated a larger capacity for sharing in the joys of others -- those "others" who were saved and are joyfully ensconced in Life by the victory.
c. What is the core reality? God is "like this": He is the root of "wasted compassion". As hard as it is to fathom, it is the nature of God to do "stuff" that seems to have no direct "rationale" in "efficiency" -- that seems to be an ineffectual waste of effort.
d. Who was it that enthroned "efficiency" as a virtue? It seems to me that "abandoned magnanimity" is more greatly to be admired that parsimonious "efficiency".