(from a transcript of a sermon preached on 7/20/08 at Sovereign Redeemer Assembly)
Please turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 9. Let's read verses 1 through 5: (Read)
Romans 9: (1) I tell [the] truth in Christ, I do not lie, my conscience bearing witness with me in [the] Holy Spirit, (2) that my grief is great, and a never ceasing pain [is] in my heart, (3) for I myself was wishing to be a curse from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to flesh, (4) who are Israelites, whose are the adoption and the glory, and the covenants, and the Lawgiving, and the service, and the promises; (5) whose [are] the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to flesh, He being God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
In the last sermon, we looked at verses 1 through 3 of this ninth chapter, and we saw Paul's attitude toward the lost Jews. He showed that he had a sincere and constant heaviness of heart for his brothers according to flesh. He had a compassion for these lost souls. We, too, should have such a compassion and sorrow for the lost. We are to desire and pray for their salvation, as Romans 10:1 shows.
In verse 3, Paul said that before he was saved, he, too made it his boast to be separated from Christ, so he knew the terrible lost condition of his fellow national Israelites. And he goes on in verses 4 and 5, which are all part of the same sentence, to show the advantages and privileges of those of the Jewish nation, which actually increase his sorrow over those who were given so much and were even pointed to the Messiah but who rejected Him.
The first thing he says is that they are Israelites. This confirms that the brothers and kinsmen according to flesh that he just mentioned were, in fact, the national Israelites, of which he was one. And being a national Israelite brought along with it many outward advantages. Let's turn back to a passage we already went over, which is Romans 3:1-2:
Romans 3: (1) What then [is] the superiority of the Jew? Or what the profit of circumcision? (2) Much every way. For first, indeed, that they were entrusted with the Words of God.
Paul says that one of the main advantages was that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. To "entrust" means "to deliver something in trust to." God delivered His oracles in trust to the Jews. An "oracle of God" is an "utterance of God." The Jews were given the utterances of God and entrusted with them. The first advantage of having these oracles is that they had the very Word of God with them. They had God's revealed will by way of command, and they had the gospel. That could not be said of the heathen nations. They were also the PRESERVERS of the Word of God, so that God's infallible Word would be passed on from generation to generation. Yet what did they do with it? Did they see God's Law as showing them the perfect righteousness of God and showing them that they cannot meet up to this perfect righteousness in their own conduct? Did they run to the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of the coming Messiah as their only hope of salvation? No. Instead, they used God's Law as their attempted means to gain and maintain God's favor. They did not run to a righteousness outside of themselves; instead, they rested in their own righteousness. They used this outward advantage to construct a religion of works righteousness. And this is what they did with all of their outward advantages.
Let's now look at Romans 9:4-6 at the eight advantages listed there. The first is adoption. The national Israelites were adopted. Now this is NOT saying that everyone without exception in the nation of Israel was spiritually adopted into God's family. Obviously, if you read the Old Testament, you'll see that MOST of the nation of Israel was NOT spiritually adopted into God's family. MOST of them were unregenerate. So this is talking about a different kind of adoption. This is talking about a NATIONAL adoption. God chose this nation and took this nation to be His nation. He separated them from the heathen nations and became a God to them, and they were His people. This nation was ruled and guided and protected by God as no other nation was.
The second advantage was that they had the glory. The glory of the Lord was with them, especially as manifested in the "Shechina glory," the glory of God dwelling with His people that rested on the Ark of the Covenant and filled the tabernacle and temple. No other nation had the glory of God dwelling with them.
The third advantage was that they had the covenants. They had the covenants that were given to Abraham and Moses whereby God promised to be their God and promised that Israel would be His people. No other nation was in covenant with God.
The fourth advantage is that they had the Lawgiving. The Law was given to them through Moses that revealed God's will by way of command to them. No other nation was given the Law in such explicit form.
The fifth advantage is that they had the service. The nation of Israel was given instructions in how to worship God and was the only nation that participated divinely-instituted worship. All other nations were excluded from this worship.
The sixth advantage is that they had the promises. The nation of Israel was given both temporal and spiritual promises, all pointing to the promised Messiah. No other nation was given such promises.
The seventh advantage is that they had the fathers. They had the patriarchs and prophets who led them and delivered the Word of God to them. No other nation had such people who were God's mouthpieces.
The eighth advantage is the one to whom all the other advantages pointed. It was the sum of all the advantages, the ultimate reason for the advantages, the culmination of all the other advantages. This advantage is that from the nation of Israel came the promised Messiah who would save His people from their sins. Jesus Christ was a national Jew, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. He came to the Jews and ministered to the Jews. His disciples were Jews. The Jews had right in front of them the promised Messiah, the One of whom the Old Testament Scripture spoke. No other nation was given this advantage. All of their Scripture pointed to Jesus Christ. And what did they do with Him? What did the vast majority of the national Israelites do with Jesus Christ? Did they rejoice in the day of Christ as Mariam and Zacharias did in Luke 1? No. When He claimed to be the Messiah, they said he was a blasphemer. They said he was of the devil. They hated him and sought to put him to death. This Messiah was not the Messiah they were looking for. They were looking for someone who would speak peace to them, who would set up an earthly kingdom so the nation of Israel would once again be the dominant nation in the world. They wanted nothing of a spiritual kingdom in which righteousness reigned. They wanted nothing of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of the Messiah. They wanted to cling to their own righteousness as what recommended them to God. And when the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, came along and told them that all their efforts at religion and morality were evil deeds, they rejected Him. They rejected Him because of His DOCTRINE. It gave them no room to boast. It exposed their religion as dung. And they hated Jesus Christ and His doctrine enough to crucify Him as a criminal. All of these external privileges that were given to the nation of Israel, culminating in Jesus Christ, were twisted into a rejection of the very Messiah that they claimed they were looking for. Instead of working for their good, these privileges worked for their hardening and destruction, culminating in the obliteration of Israel as a nation and as the keeper of the true religion.
At the end of verse 5, Paul says that not only is Jesus Christ a man who was an Israelite according to the flesh, but also that He is God over all, blessed forever. This is blasphemy to the Jews. Now there are some who would say that the Jews never knew that Jesus claimed to be God. And there are others who would say that Jesus Himself never claimed to be God. But let's look at some Scripture passages to see what Jesus said of Himself and what the reaction of the Jews was. Let's first turn to John 8:51-59:
John 8: (51) Truly, truly, I say to you, If anyone keeps My Word, he will not behold death to the age, never! (52) Then the Jews said to Him, Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets, and You say, If anyone keeps My Word, he will not taste of death to the age, never! (53) Are You greater than our father Abraham who died? And the prophets died! Whom do You make Yourself? (54) Jesus answered, If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, whom you say is your God. (55) And you have not known Him; but I know Him, And if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be like you, a liar. But I know Him, and I keep His Word. (56) Your father Abraham leaped for joy that he should see My day, and he saw, and rejoiced. (57) Then the Jews said to Him, You do not yet have fifty years, and have You seen Abraham? (58) Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham came to be, I AM! (59) Because of this, they took up stones that they might throw [them] on Him. But Jesus was hidden, and went forth out of the temple, going through [the] midst of them, and so passed by.
Why did the Jews take up stones to kill Jesus? Did the Jews understand the claim that Jesus was making? Of course they did. The Jews knew what "I AM" meant. Jesus was claiming to be the HAYAH, the eternally existent God of the universe that is found in Exodus 3:14. In Exodus 3:14, God says to Moses, "I AM THAT I AM. ... You shall say this to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you." "I AM" is HAYAH in Hebrew. The Septuagint translates the Hebrew HAYAH in Exodus 3:14 into the Greek eg-O I-MEE, which is the exact phrase Christ uses in John 8:58. Now over to John 10:24-33:
John 10: (24) Then the Jews encircled Him, and said to Him, Until when do You lift up our soul? If You are the Christ, tell us publicly. (25) Jesus answered them, I told you, and you did not believe. The works which I do in the name of My Father, these bear witness about Me. (26) But you do not believe for you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. (27) My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (28) And I give eternal life to them, and they shall not perish to the age, never! And not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand. (29) My Father who has given [them] to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck out of My Father's hand. (30) I and the Father are One! (31) Then again the Jews took up stones, that they might stone Him. (32) Jesus answered them, I showed you many good works from My Father. For which work of them do you stone Me? (33) The Jews answered Him, saying, We do not stone You concerning a good work, but concerning blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself God.
Why did the Jews take up stones to stone Jesus? Did the Jews understand the claim that Jesus was making? Of course they did. If they didn't, they wouldn't have accused Him of blasphemy. Now over to Mark 14:61-64:
Mark 14: (61) But He was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest questioned Him, and said to Him, Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? (62) And Jesus said, I AM! And you will see the Son of Man sitting off [the] right [hand] of power, and coming with the clouds of the heaven. (63) And tearing his garments, the high priest said, Why do we still have need of witnesses? (64) You heard the blasphemy. What does it seem to you? And they all adjudged Him liable, [even] of death.
Here, the high priest of the Jews accuses Jesus of blasphemy, and the sanhedrin condemned him to be guilty of death. Did they understand the claim that Jesus was making? Of course they did. Again, Jesus used the phrase eg-O I-MEE, which is equivalent to the Hebrew HAYAH. The high priest wouldn't have torn his clothes and accused Jesus of blasphemy had he not known what Jesus was claiming. Jesus was claiming to be the sovereign, eternal God of the universe.
And back to Romans 9:5, this is exactly what Paul is saying of Jesus. He is saying that Jesus is the sovereign, eternal God of the universe. He says that Jesus Christ is "God over all," which affirms that Christ is the sovereign Lord, the Creator, Sustainer, and Controller of the universe. He says that Jesus Christ is "blessed forever," which means that He is to be worshiped and adored as the eternal God, which is most certainly anathema not only to the Jews but also to the Muslims, who would call this blatant idolatry and blasphemy. But to those of us who are saved, we know that Jesus Christ is God over all, blessed forever. There is not a single regenerate person who does not believe that Jesus is not fully God.
The apostle ends this doxology with the strong affirmation "Amen." The Greek word is ah-MAIN, which comes from the Hebrew word aw-MAIN, which comes from the Hebrew word aw-MAN, which means to build up, to support, to be firm, to be faithful, to trust, to believe, to be true, to be certain, to be established. It means that what has just been said is true. Paul begins the paragraph with an affirmation of truth:"I tell the truth in Christ" and ends it with an affirmation of truth: "Amen."
Let's end by reading two doxologies from the book of Revelation. First, Revelation 5:8-10:
Revelation 5: (8) And when He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having harps, and golden bowls full of incenses, which are the prayers of the saints. (9) And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy are You to receive the scroll, and to open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood purchased us to God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, (10) and made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign over the earth.
And finally, Revelation 7:11-12:
Revelation 7: (11) And all the angels and of the elders and of the four living creatures stood around the throne. And they fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, (12) saying, Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength to our God forever and ever. Amen.