Meditations on Prophetic Portions of the New Testament: Chapter 3

Romans 9-11
When we enter on the Epistle to the Romans, and look for prophetic truth, we find it very distinctly standing out. The epistle consists of three parts.
The first part closes with chap. 8., and is the education of the individual saint. You are there alone with Christ, and you are introduced to the justification of your person, and may shout in spirit, " Who shall condemn? " " Who shall separate?"
In chaps. 9., 10., and 11., you get the dispensations of God, or His dealings with the earth from beginning to end, and there you get prophecy. It is most desirable for the soul to acquaint itself with God's story of the earth.
Then, when we close chap. 11., it takes up practical details, still addressing itself to the saints of God, but now they are looked at, not alone with Christ, but in company with one another, in their social place. It is very important to see these distinctions.
Now supposing we direct our eye to chaps. 9., 10., and 11., the second great division of the epistle. They introduce our thoughts, as I have said, to divine dispensations―the dealings of God with the earth from beginning to end. Chapter 9, opens with a very fervent protest on the part of Paul. He is about to tell Israel that they are going to be cast off for a time, and he could not approach such a subject without feeling it. He begins, therefore, by a very fervent utterance of his heart―" I could wish * that myself were accursed from Christ, for my brethren," etc.
(*Or rather, " I have wished "―a moment's earnest-appeal, as beside himself. He had loved them as Much as Moses (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)).)
He shows how he had continual sorrow of heart for them. Then he recalls their ancient dignity. The promises were theirs,―the fathers were theirs,―Christ was theirs, concerning the flesh. That takes him down to ver. 5.
Then, in ver. 6, he goes on to relieve himself and You. It is riot that the present ruin of Israel has broken God's word. Nay, it has fulfilled it. It does not follow that all who are of Israel are Israel; and he goes on to prove that in the case of Ishmael and Isaac, Jacob and Esau. When you are tracing the dispensational ways of God, you are always in company with His word. His hand always verifies His word. We see this in the opening of Matthew's gospel. Was the Child to go down into Egypt? He turns to the prophet Hosea and finds it there. Was the Bethlehemite to be called a Nazarene? He turns to all the prophets and finds it there. When you mark a correspondence between the word of God and the events passing under your eye, you are dealing with " the signs of the times." Therefore, in the second part of the chapter, he says, Do not think the word of God has failed. I have the Book in my hand, and you under my eye, and I find you are fulfilling His word. That carries us down to ver. 13. Then, in ver. 14, he says: " What shall we say then? Is their unrighteousness with God " No, that cannot be; but their is sovereign mercy with God. And then he illustrates this in the beautiful parable of the two vessels. Pharaoh was a vessel of wrath. Israel was a vessel appointed to mercy. Mark how beautifully he speaks of these. Did God prepare Pharaoh to be a vessel of wrath? Indeed He did not. When Pharaoh forgot Joseph he was fitting himself by his iniquity for the righteous judgment of God. But as to the vessels of mercy, it is Himself who prepares them from the very first; and if He did not, not one of us would ever be a vessel of mercy. If He did not begin to set His love upon you, and to make you His object, you never would be prepared to glory. Did He not prepare Israel in Egypt? that wretched people that said, " Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? " If God had not prepared them, they had entitled themselves to no better treatment than Pharaoh himself.
In these two figures the necessity of sovereign grace shines out, yet the perfect responsibility of the creature. Could Pharaoh have forgotten Joseph, who had made Egypt the queen of the earth, and been guiltless? Then, when the apostle comes down in the close of the 9th chapter to assert sovereignty as a necessary thing, he shows that God will act in sovereignty in behalf of the Gentile, as well as in behalf of the Jew. In the 30th verse he draws up his soul again to another meditation: " What shall we say then? " This is what I say:―" That the Gentiles which followed not after righteousness have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith." Israel is now cast off for their own unbelief. " They stumbled at the stumbling stone." Then chap. 10., occupies itself with that subject. He is still breaking his heart over them, and is a beautiful model for you and me. If we sit in company with the prophets, we should not be unmoved readers of them. "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." Now, it is not their ancient dignity, but their religion that moves him. If there is a heart-breaking thing in the world it is to have to mourn over a man's religion. We are living among people steeped in religiousness, yet every bit of it is cause of sorrow to us. And what is his prayer? " That they might be saved." What! does a religious people want to be saved? Yes; they want to be saved from their own religiousness, as well as from their own corruptions and lusts. " Being ignorant of God's righteousness." Not taking righteousness as a gift, they go about to establish their own righteousness, and have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. A fine moral word is this word " submitted." If you take divine righteousness you have subjected nature. Then he discusses the two righteousnesses. The first duty of the heart is to believe in Christ, and the first duty of the lips is to confess Him. The righteousness of faith says, " I will sit as still as a stone and let the salvation of God pass before me."
Then, having established that, he says beautifully in the 14th verse, " How can you attach guilt to Israel 9 Perhaps they have not beard." Yes they have. They cannot plead that; they have looked for righteousness in an unscriptural way, and cannot plead ignorance. For " to Israel He saith, All day long have I stretched forth my hands to a disobedient and gainsaying people." He leaves Israel under the guilt of not having found the righteousness which is by faith.
Then in chapter 11., he looks at the dispensations of God. He opens by saying, " Hath God cast away His people? " This epistle, among other things, checks our own inferences. Here is one of them " Hath God cast away His people? " No. That is your own conclusion. I myself, being an Israelite, am a witness that He has not cast away His people. The apostle stands forth as a beautiful witness that God has an election in the midst of the nation, as He had in the time of Elias. But, for the present, the nation as such is still an outcast nation.
But now I want to know " (he says in the 11th verse) "has the nation stumbled? " In the 1st verse the inquiry was, " Has God no people among Israel?" I am a witness that He has," says Paul. " Well, then, has He cast off Israel, as a nation?" The rest of the chapter discusses that question. If we are intelligent in the mind of the Lord we will see that Israel is to be restored, as a nation. Now he comes to answer the question: " Have they stumbled that they should fall? " No. It is a remnant-day now; it will be a nation-day by-and-bye. That is, God will by-and bye deal with them nationally, as He is dealing now with an election in their midst, and with the very grace in which you stand this moment. This dignity attaches to you as Gentiles that you stand out before the nation of the Jews as a sample of God's mercy, on which ground they themselves will be taken up, as a nation, at a future day.
But then he says, " You Gentiles that are grafted in, take care that you are not boasting. Do you mean to infer that they will not be grafted in again? That is your own speculation. Because of unbelief they were cast off, but let me tell you, if He spared not the natural branches, take heed lest also He spare not thee." Do you believe Christendom has continued in the goodness of God? You could not say it. And what shall be its end? The apostle tells you it shall be cut off. And there is not a ray of hope for Christendom. There is nothing before it but the judgment of the day of Christ. But there shall come out of Zion a Deliverer to turn away ungodliness from Jacob. There is the answer to the question " Hath God east away His people? " By-and-bye they will be beloved as a nation, for the fathers' sakes. If you do not mean to deprive God of one great article of His own delight, the nation of Israel must be restored. Do you think God is going to tell Abraham He has repented of His covenant when He promised him the land? " The gifts and calling of God are without repentance."
" For God hath concluded all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all." Whether it be the Gentiles for heavenly places, or the Jews for earthly places, it is all one story of boundless grace and wondrous mercy, warranted and perfected in the blood of Christ. Redemption is too precious a story not to be rehearsed in every part of God's creation.
Then his heart runs over. and he burst forth: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! " Here, it is the shout of his spirit over the wisdom and knowledge of God. " For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen.
(Continued from Page 60)
(To he continued, D.)