Missing the Point—Romans 9:4-5
"the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen" (Romans 9:4-5)
There is no argument that Israel has blessed the world immensely. They have been on the forefront of the worlds stage since the earliest of days. This is because there is something special about them. Throughout their history God has moved on their account is unusual and wonderful ways. Throughout the Old Testament, accounts of his mighty provision and demonstration of power proceeded the Israelites where ever they went. No one could deny that they had the power of God on their side.
In today's passage Paul mentioned a few of the things that were special unto them alone. First of all Israel was considered Gods children. They were God's chosen people on this earth. The people of the earth quaked with fear concerning them because they knew that the one true God moved on their behalf. His divine presence or Shekinah glory went before them in the desert and fighting in battles. His presence was always with them as a people. God also made special covenants with them. It started with Abraham and he was promised that the entire world would be blessed through him. The covenants were initiated, ratified and upheld by God. Next to the Israelites the law was given. He revealed to them the righteousness that he ascribed to and spoke to them the Holy commandments so that they would have a bases to live by and be different from the nations surrounding them. All of it of course pointed to Christ so he also revealed to them the temple worship. He revealed the sacrificial system which were types and shadows of the promised Messiah. Looking forward to the time of Christ which he had promised them as far back as the garden. To Israel belonged the long line of patriarchs. Their ancestry was great indeed and through the natural lineage came Christ fulfilling the promise to Abraham that the entire world would be blessed by him.
Israel indeed has blessed the world. However, they took what was meant to be a close relationship of trust and turned it into ritual and obligation. They were meant to be the vehicle in which the Messiah would come to the world and instead their hardness of heart caused them to missed him when He was here. The Savior of the world was promised to them and they got so wrapped up in religion that they didn't even recognize him when he came to them. Paul said in the previous verses that he had unceasing anguish in heart on account of his fellow brothers. He expressed that he himself wished that he could be cursed and cut off so they would believe in Christ. All of these things that were theirs by God's grace were nullified by their unbelief in Jesus.
This is a great lesson for us today. It is easy to get wrapped up in going to church and being involved in Bible Studies and church organizations and miss the point. It has always been about relationship and that relationship has to start with recognizing Jesus as the Savior. It doesn't matter if you come from a long line of Christians or if you have gone to church your entire life. What matters is that you don't miss Him in life. He is the pinnacle of history and recognizing that He is the Messiah is fulfillment of the covenant that Abraham had with God. Take this lesson from the Israelites who were the beneficiaries of all these blessing through God, don't let ritual and tradition disqualify you from true riches and blessings. It is only through faith in Christ that the promise is fulfilled in your heart.
Today, I am blessed to be a child of God. I am blessed to know that I too, belong to the promise and I am part of God's chosen people in the world today. By faith in Christ, you also are "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone ( Ephesians 2:20 ). May you rejoice in the wonderful blessing that is in Christ Jesus, amen!
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Original article published January 3, 2010.