Scripture Reading: Romans 11:7 (The Message)
7 And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God.
Thought for the day:
Before continuing, I suggest you grab a coffee and a comfortable chair. Today may be a tough devotion to get through! Yesterday, I returned to the subject of Election and Predestination. The reason for that was found in verse 7 where, in the NIV and many other translations, we read the words ‘What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened…’. I used the Philips translation yesterday because it included the word ‘chosen’ instead of ‘elect’. I wanted to show that any translation is subject to the mindset and perhaps unconscious bias toward their own beliefs. Today, I’ve provided The Message for you to read as once again, this gives a different ‘feel’ to the verse. In Romans 9, I’m paraphrasing, but Paul states that ‘Israel…in pursuit of the law of righteousness has not attained to that law.’ This implies that NONE of Israel had obtained what they were aiming for. Here in chapter 11, Paul clearly shows that SOME of Israel succeeded. Is this an error and has Paul changed his mind halfway through the letter? Of course not. Both statements are true if we understand the balance of what Paul is saying. As a principle, Israel didn’t succeed in their pursuit of righteousness however, even within that principle, there were exceptions that we cannot ignore. So, who succeeded and who failed? That’s what Paul is addressing in verses 7-10. I want you firstly, to consider the term ‘hardened’ as is used in the NIV. The Message uses ‘thick-skinned’. I’m sure that for many, whenever you think of God and ‘hardening’ you immediately think of Moses and Pharaoh. Why God would harden Pharaoh’s heart is quite difficult to understand. Pharaoh firstly set his face against God in an act of hardening his heart and then God continued to harden as each plague was unleashed. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to state that Pharaoh hardened his heart and also that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It is not a contradiction. Going back to verse 7, is it true that only God’s elect could succeed? Were the rest doomed to failure because of God’s choice? I like The Message where it states ‘The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them’. Some people believe that they had no choice in the matter. I’ll explore this more tomorrow.
Prayer and Application:
As we pray today, I ask that our hearts are kept open to His will and soft enough to be moulded into what He is requiring to do in our lives.