Israel's Twofold Failure and God's Twofold Mercy

Romans 9:1-13
OM 9:1-13 " Who bath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been? "-Isa. 49:2121Then shalt thou say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been? (Isaiah 49:21).
THE APOSTLE'S SORROW, AND BLESSINGS PERTAINING TO ISRAEL.
" I SAY the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart (for I did, or used to, wish that myself were accursed, or separated, from Christ) for, or on account of, my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." (ver. 1-5.)
(Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.)
THE TWOFOLD CAUSE OF THE APOSTLE'S SORROW.
A. " For they are not all ISRAEL, which are o' ISRAEL:"
B. " Neither, because they are the SEED OF ABRAHAM, are they all CHILDREN." (Ver. 6, 7.)
THE TWO CASES IN WHICH THE WORD OF GOD TAKES EFFECT.
B. " But, IN ISAAC SHALL THY SEED BE CALLED. That is, They which are the children of the FLESH, these are not the children of GOD: but the children of the PROMISE are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON." (Ver. 7—9.)
A. " And not only this; btit when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac-' (for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to ELECTION might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) it was said unto her, The ELDER shall serve the YOUNGER. As it is written, JACOB HAVE I LOVED, BUT ESAU HAVE I HATED." (Ver. 10-13.)
BEFORE entering upon any attempt to explain the above passage, with a view to arrive at the apostle's meaning therein, we will for a moment divest it of all that which we believe to be parenthetical, or merely accessory to the sense; and read it as follows:
" I say the truth in Christ, 1 lie not, my conscience " also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I "have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my " heart,
*   * *
" for, or because of, my brethren my kinsmen, according
" to the flesh:
" For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children."
Here, observe, we have two distinct points:
1. THE APOSTLE'S SORROW BECAUSE OF HIS BRETHREN.
2. THE TWOFOLD CAUSE OF HIS SORROW.
With regard to the former, we here find how heavy his heart was, how continual his sorrow, at the thought of the lost condition of Israel, his kinsmen according to the flesh; and that for two reasons, as we shall presently see. In the meantime, however, we turn to notice one point in connection therewith, namely, the import of that sentence which, on referring to the whole passage quoted from Rom. 9 at the head of this paper, it will be seen that we have ventured to treat as a parenthesis, and also to give a new rendering thereof, viz., " FOR I DID, OR USED TO, WISH THAT MYSELF WERE ACCURSED FROM CHRIST." To this, it is likely, objection will be offered by many: in order therefore to clear the way before we enter upon our proposed explanation, we beg to remind the reader that ηυχομην being the imperfect tense, the true rendering is, not "I could wish," according to the received text, but " I did, or used to, wish." -This, be it observed, is unquestionably right, as all are agreed who are competent to form a judgment thereon. And now, having settled this point, let us consider the passage, and see whether our thought as to its parenthetical character is as open to objection as may by some be supposed. Our explanation is as follows: The apostle, as we have seen, is here mourning over the sad state of his people' his brethren and kinsmen and in doing so his thoughts naturally revert to himself and his former condition. Ignorant of his need as a sinner, he had willingly lived without Christ, and therefore without God, in the world. This touches his heart; this deepens his compassion for them; and so he breaks off, and in a parenthesis gives vent to his feelings, and says, " FOR I DID, OR I USED TO, WISH THAT MYSELF WERE ACCURSED, OR SEPARATED, FROM CHRIST." lie did not of course know that to be separated from Christ was to be, accursed; but he has made the discovery, and hence this strong exclamation, this expressive parenthesis. This is quite natural, often indeed the way with ourselves in similar circumstances: when we think of poor perishing sinners, the next thing that we do is, to remember that such we formerly were: and Such then is the interpretation we offer; and we ask, Is not this simple and natural? More consistent, surely, than that which is commonly held; which represents the apostle as wishing that he might be accursed from Christ for his people: a thing which we venture to say never entered his thoughts, however deep his affection for them; and which, supposing it could possibly happen, would never avail for the deliverance and blessing of those over whom he was mourning. Even Moses, with whom Paul is often compared in this passage, never surely meant to say that he was willing to lose his soul, to be accursed for his people. It was, we believe, in his official character that he spoke of himself as he did, even as the lawgiver and leader of Israel; and in this sense he asked, sooner than that God should not forgive them, that he should be blotted out of His book. (See Ex. 32:3232Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. (Exodus 32:32).) And now as to the second point; namely, the twofold cause of his sorrow.
1. THEY ARE NOT ALL ISRAEL, WHICH ARE OF ISRAEL:
2. NEITHER, BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SEED OF ABRAHAM, ARE THEY ALL CHILDREN.
As to the former, Israelites born they were; but not Israelites either in spirit or in heart. Instead of prevailing with God and with men, as their father Jacob had done, and consequently received the new name of Israel, Satan had prevailed over them, and caused them to fall.
As to the latter, they were the seed of Abraham, it is true, according to the flesh; but still they were not Abraham's children. To be this, in the divine sense, they must have Abraham's faith: and this they had not; the evidence of which was their rejection of Christ, the promised Seed, the Deliverer of Israel.
There is, however, comfort in the midst of this ruin, a ray of light in the darkness. God, he well knew,. had AN-ELECTION, a people, among them: so eager therefore is he to find relief in this thought, that before he proceeds to speak of the twofold cause of his grief, of which we have spoken above, we find him breaking off for a moment, and in a PARENTHESIS anticipatively touching
on what he speaks of at large when he comes to tell of God's dealings in grace with His people; " NOT AS THOUGH THE WORD OF GOD HAD TAKEN NONE EFFECT," he says, comforting his heart as he approaches the sorrowful thought of Israel's failure. This is surely according to Him who, as His eye looks down on the thousands who are living without God in the world, singles out from among them those blessed and chosen ones on whom His own name is called.
And now we pass on to the cheering part of our passage; that which, as I have just said, the apostle briefly and parenthetically anticipates; a two fold exhibition of grace: an exception, as we shall see, to the twofold cause of his sorrow.
It is as follows: First, " BUT IN ISAAC SHALL THY
" SEED BE CALLED: that is, they which are the children
" of the FLESH, these are not the children of God: but
" the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
" For this is the word of promise, At this time will I
" come, and SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON." This, observe, is at once connected, and at the same time contrasted, with that which stands just before it; namely, the second statement of Israel's failure, viz., "Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children." Here the meaning is, that as in the case of Abraham's two sons, Ishmael and Isaac, the one who was born according to nature, or the will of the flesh, was not owned of God; while he who was born according to promise was the elect seed: so. Israel hereafter, regenerate Israel, the nation under the new covenant, will be accepted and owned as the people of God. And so also we find in chapter 11. there are individuals now, at this present time, out of the nation, the unregenerate ones, those still lying in the deadness and darkness of nature, are rejected; while those who are looking to Christ, the true Child of promise, are children of promise themselves, the people of God. That there were such even then, a believing remnant among them, with whom the word took effect, this was the thing that gave relief to the heart of the apostle, that filled him with
joy. Israel as a nation may have stumbled; but notwithstanding this, how many beloved ones are among them whom he will yet meet in heaven!
Secondly, "And not only this; but when Rebecca also
" had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (for the
" children being not yet born, neither having done any
“ good or evil, that the purpose of God according to
" ELECTION might stand, not of works, but of him that
" calleth;) it was said unto her, the ELDER shall serve
" the YOUNGER. As it is written, JACOB HAVE I LOVED,
" BUT ESAU HAVE I HATED." This, observe, like the former, is connected by contrast with something noticed before, namely, with the first view of Israel's failure; viz., " For they are not all ISRAEL, which are OF ISRAEL;" meaning, that as of Isaac's two sons, Esau and Jacob, one, namely the younger, was chosen; while the other, the firstborn, he to whom according to nature the birthright, and at the same time the blessing, belonged, was rejected; so is it now, as to individual Jews: " They are not all Israel, which are of Israel:" it is the elect, and the elect only, those who are trusting, not to works, but to God's grace in Christ, to whom the blessing pertains. Here again there is comfort: there will be a remnant hereafter, and there is a remnant even now according to the election of grace, over whom his large and loving heart can rejoice. Thus then, on reviewing what has been said, we find that the two passages in question teach us two truths distinct from each other and yet closely connected;;hat in which Abraham and Isaac are named having relation to sonship; while the other, wherein Isaac and his two sons Jacob and Esau appear, bears on election.
E. D.