Take Advantage of Your Advantages
Vladimir Putin said Russia had no plans to attack Ukraine. What a liar! His promises are untrustworthy. More than most things in life, liars make me mad. I want to trust people to keep their promises. Their failure unsettles me.
Romans 9–11 is Paul’s defense that God faithfully keeps His promises. Paul describes his deep anguish because of the Israelites’ spiritual condition. He’s even prepared to be cut off from Christ if that would bring them to faith in Him (verse 3). Jesus was cut off from His eternal relationship with the Father so we could become God’s children. The Spirit of Jesus is alive in Paul! How concerned are you for the eternal destiny of those who don’t yet know Christ? Can I challenge you to grow along with me in that regard?
The Israelites had many advantages. God graciously adopted them as sons. The pillar of cloud symbolized God’s glory. It revealed He lived among them. He made numerous covenants with them. He gave them the Law. He taught them how to worship Him. These advantages prepared them to bring the Messiah into the world.
Despite these advantages, Israel didn’t recognize the Messiah when He came. Most rejected Him. Like Israel, we’ve received God’s blessings and special grace. They’re to draw us to faith in Jesus and to conform us to His image. Are you taking advantage of your advantages? Are you basking in grace like the Israelites or growing in grace like Paul?
Israel’s failure to fulfill God’s calling is their own responsibility. Through history, some have received God’s revelation. Others have hardened their hearts to it. Receiving it is evidence of being chosen by God.
Israel originated in Isaac, the unique son of God’s promise to Abraham. But there was a true Israel within Israel. Similarly, there’s a true church within those who associate with the church. Before they were born, God made a distinction between Isaac’s children (Jacob and Esau) before they were born. He chose Jacob to outward and national privilege. That is, to a covenant relationship, not to salvation directly. Not all Abraham and Jacob’s descendants are children of promise.
God’s saving purpose is like the channel of a mighty river. The entire river seems to be going the same direction. But there’s a river within the river. It flows through space and time gathering up God’s elect. “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10–11, NIV). May I challenge you to take advantage of your advantages and fully embrace God’s love?
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