Scripture Reading: Romans 11:7 (New Living Translation)
7 So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favour of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have — the ones God has chosen — but the hearts of the rest were hardened.
Thought for the day:
Today, I hope that we won’t get too bogged down into detail and that we will be able to conclude the week by forming some kind of consensus. You may disagree with me on the detail but I trust that we will still be able to appreciate all that God has done for Israel and for us as Gentiles. He is a great God and has done amazing things for which we are all incredibly grateful. The grace of God never fails to amaze me and even after studying His Word for many, many years, I still don’t understand why a Holy God would choose to dwell for a while on earth and to bring someone like me back into a right relationship with Himself. Mind blowing. In light of that, I guess that our final look at Election (at least for this week!) will be easy to understand.
Ok, let’s begin where we ended yesterday. Did Israel have any ‘say’ in their quest for righteousness? It’s clear from our verse today that they were sincere and ‘earnest’ in their search and yet they still failed. Did they have a choice or is this all down to God’s will and sovereignty? Joshua 24 is an incredible passage of Scripture that poses many questions. Joshua stands before all the tribes of Israel, catalogues the many times that God moved on their behalf and then challenges them with a stark statement: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve”. He then goes on to say “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Can you see the problem this poses when we compare this to Romans 11:7? If Israel was not capable of making a choice, then surely Joshua was being disingenuous when he asked them to choose whom to serve. Would it not have been more accurate to say “I’m one of God’s elect and therefore will serve God but the majority of you are not and therefore God will harden you against Him.” I believe that God chooses people and hardens others. I also believe that we have a choice as to whether we serve God or not. I believe that both things are true. I believe that God is sovereign, and I also believe that we have free will. I don’t understand how this works but I believe it to be true. Equally I cannot explain how Jesus is fully God and also fully man but both statements are true.
Prayer and Application:
We touched on this yesterday, but I believe that as God hardened Pharaoh’s heart AFTER Pharaoh’s rejection of God, we too have to be careful not to reject God and therefore become subject to God’s hardening.