Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
July 28, 2009
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
1901 ASV Translation
7 What then? that which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened:
8 according as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this very day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, And a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, And bow thou down their back always.
- I. Paul's "Conclusion".
- A. The concept of a sovereign, all-controlling God Who has put every good outcome under His "grace" so that no one obtains any long-term benefit unless He determines to extend it to them is a concept that very few human beings like and almost none really understand. So, if Paul is going to put forward such a concept, it is going to have to deal with both man's dislike/lack of understanding and be consistent with the Gospel of a God Who "takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked" (Ezekiel 33:11) and Who "will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).
- 1. The more sterile and mechanical a person's concept of God is, the easier it is to explain this thesis, but the harder it is to relate to Him.
- 2. The more relational and emotionally involved a person's concept of God is, the harder it is to explain this thesis, but the easier it is to relate to Him.
- 3. But there are problems either way.
- a. Sterile "mechanicalism" makes God into an emotionless Dominator with the inevitable consequence of a definition of "Life" that is devoid of joy.
- b. But emotionalistic excess makes God into a helpless victim of the choices of others with the inevitable consequence of a hopelessness in "Life" that disallows any true faith and, consequently, joy.
- 4. Therefore, obviously, there has to be a middle ground somewhere that allows Joy to exist in the presence of Truth because this is the promise of the Gospel.
- a. Clearly, Paul's greatest thesis ["... but the greatest of these is love" -- 1 Corinthians 13:13] has to fit into this joyful truth because it is the outer boundary of everything he wrote in this Romans context. In 9:3 he declared that, because of a "great sorrow and unceasing pain" in his heart (9:2), he was willing to be the "redeemer" of his kinsmen by paying the price of their sin himself. In 10:1 he claimed that his "heart's desire and ... supplication to God" was for them to be saved.
- 1) Given this definition of "love" (total self-sacrifice unto the worst possible outcome for the one doing the loving) and the actual reality in the lives of Moses (Exodus 32:32), Paul (Romans 9), and, obviously, Jesus, it simply cannot be credible for those who "object" to God "forcing" others to align with Him in love or be destroyed. No one who "loves" objects to God's election and sovereignty; no one who does not "love" has any credibility in "objecting". The "unloving" both deserve to be, and will be, destroyed and the "loving" will not oppose any sacrifice they are called upon to make.
- 2) This dominant thesis of "Love" guides everything: all thoughts; all actions; all results. God's Master Plan is "Loving"; it is only the enemies of God who do not "like" it.
- b. Just as clearly, Paul's dual claims that the Gospel brings great joy and that he bore "a great sorrow and unceasing pain in his heart" have to both be true. But this is the stumbling block for almost everyone: how can God, or anyone else, have both "unceasing pain in the heart" and "fullness of a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8)?
- 1) The answer rests in the complexity of the reality of personality. Everywhere in the Scriptures we are taught that God is both/and without the diminishing of either in any sense. He is both "just" and the "justifier". He is "full of righteousness" and "full of mercy". He is both filled with unlimited hostility toward the wicked and a lover of His enemies. Thus, it is no real "T"heological problem for God to have both an unceasing pain in His heart and an unspeakable joy. Nor can it be a real "T"heological problem for God to "wish all men to be saved" and "elect only some". Satan delights in attempting to force our "T"heology into an "either/or" rather than a "both/and" scenario because he knows that as soon as we get into "either/or", we lose both "faith" and "joy". The fact is that it takes "both/and" to produce Life and Life is diminished by the diminishing of either.
- 2) Man's major problem is his single dimension thinking where he refuses to recognize that an unbalanced indulgence in anything is deadening. Add to that his intense fear of his own losses (this is complete, mindless self-centeredness) and Life goes out the window. Paul was most alive when he had both "great sorrow" and "unspeakable joy" and we are most dead when we refuse either.
- B. The facts are these ...
- 1. Israel has not obtained what he sought.
- a. What "Israel" sought was "a righteous standing before God". However, this "what" is not intended by Paul to be a statement of the ultimate search. Seeking a righteous standing before God is not the "ultimate" search. Having a righteous standing before God leads to other, more critical, outcomes. These other, more critical, outcomes are the "ultimates". It may be an exaggeration to make this claim, but I will make it anyway: most of the misunderstanding of Scripture is driven by the ignorance of the fact that there is but one "ultimate" objective and all others are "intermediate" objectives that, actually, turn into "methodological objectives" when seen as servants of the one ultimate objective.
- 1) Israel longed for, and diligently sought for, "a righteous standing before God".
- 2) But Israel's longing was seriously twisted for one reason: he saw "a righteous standing before God" as a means to a nefarious end. This "end" was "Life" as a consequence of recognition for accomplishment. For "Israel", recognition for accomplishment was the chief methodological tool. Ignorantly, Israel sought for something that cannot be achieved apart from the skillful application of power to circumstances. Israel was deceived by the fact that some recognition can be achieved by accomplishment, but, at some point, the demands exceed the capacity and, when that happens, recognition cannot be achieved by accomplishment. As soon as the required "wisdom" is beyond a person, he/she will not be able to apply it to his/her circumstances, and as soon as the required "power" is beyond a person, "wisdom" cannot help. Chasing "Life" by means of "recognition" is twisted and will inevitably fail.
- b. How "Israel" sought it was the reason he did not obtain it.
- 1) The problem was not in the "what".
- 2) The problem was, is, and always has been, the "how". The doctrine of "salvation by faith" is a doctrine of "method", not objective. Salvation is the objective, but the issues of salvation are most critical at the methodological level.
- 2. The elect have obtained it.
- 3. All but the elect were blinded by God.