ROMANS 9:1-16 The reason Jesus came is so that the world may see Him by the way we live

ROMANS 9:1-16 The reason Jesus came is so that the world may see Him by the way we live

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “ THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: “AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.” 13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.


The Israelites, having been blessed by Abraham’s promise did not set themselves to become a blessing to the world. Instead, they turned inward to become self-serving while despising the people of other nations. As a result, they lose their standing as heirs to rule at God’s righthand. Indeed, an heir is born not out of natural descent or of man’s expectations, but out of God’s choice. For God appraises a man’s heart and judges the works that flow from it. Indeed, no man can gain God’s acceptance by virtue of his lineage, achievements, religious observances and knowledge. But God judges the secrets of our hearts and the works that flow from it. The ground receives the rain that brings forth fruit to be harvested as well as weed to be burned. Likewise, a man can drink of God’s grace and become a worse sinner than he is before. Or he can decide to turn his heart towards heaven and bear the fruit of love and righteousness. The Jews, having received God’s grace became self-serving only to lose their inheritance. If believers today do not persevere in emulating the way Jesus lived, we will likewise lose our inheritance. In today’s devotion, we are reminded that: The reason Jesus came is so that the world may see Him by the way we live.


I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.

Paul was extremely grieved because many of Abraham’s descendants have passed up on the calling to inherit that which is eternally and infinitely glorious. We are grieved if our siblings loses their earthly inheritance, what more the privilege of sitting with Christ at God’s right hand for all eternity. Here, Paul referred to Abraham’s descendants that despite being promised adoption as sons of God and assured of their calling through the covenant of circumcision and the giving of the Law, which includes the temple services, they failed to inherit it. The descendants of Abraham, having known God for centuries while awaiting the Messiah, failed to obtain the promise. Instead, the Gentiles who did not know or expect any of it obtained the full inheritance that was meant for the Jews.

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants.

Paul breaks down the reasons why many of the descendants of Abraham failed to inherit the promise. When God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, He commissioned him and his descendants to establish God’s righteous and compassionate rule in the world. Israel means “to rule with God”. However, Abraham’s descendants have misunderstood the word of God that was initially given to Abraham: And I will bless those who bless you. And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. (Genesis 12:3). For they have erroneously concluded “all the families of the earth” as referring only to the natural descendants of Abraham. They supposed the blessing of God is reserved only for them and the other nations have no part in it. Thus, the Israelite have forsaken their mission to bring God’s blessing to the all the families of the earth.

Thus, Paul corrected their perception: For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants. Hence, there is the Israelite (the natural descendant of Abraham) and the “true Israelite” (the one chosen by God, a spiritual descendant of Abraham). Jesus made that distinction when He commended Nathanael as being a “true Israelite”, called to be blessed while being a blessing to the world (see John 1:47).

Paul substantiates his point by citing Isaac who was chosen and Ishmael excluded from the promise: “through Isaac your descendants will be named”. Therefore, the promise of Abraham to reign with God is not obtained through the flesh (by natural descent) but by promise. That means to be a true Israelite, one has to be found worthy of God’s choosing.

Paul went a step further by citing Isaac’s sons: Esau and Jacob. Again, Esau, even though a natural descendant of Isaac was debased and excluded from the promise. For God said to Rebekah (while the twins were still in her womb), “The older (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob),… Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.“

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!

God’s choice of Jacob who is seemingly lesser than Esau does not make God unjust. For while they were in their mother’s womb, God saw their hearts and the kind of persons they would grow up to be. Based on God’s foreknowledge and His righteous judgment, He announced His choice of Jacob to Rebekah. As we know it, Isaac, the father of the twins favoured Esau over Jacob because Esau appeared more worthy to the human eye to carry the family’s legacy. But God overturned Isaac’s choice by making Jacob the heir of Abraham’s promise to rule with Him. Indeed, God does not judge as people normally judge; which is by observing a person’s appearance and achievements: on the man who wills or the man who runs.A person may appear righteous to the world, but God sees the motives and intents of the heart. Therefore, God will grant mercy to whomever He finds acceptable by His own righteous standards which man by his limited wisdom can never comprehend.

That said, it is important to remind ourselves of the context of Israel’s calling which is to rule with the Messiah in God’s kingdom. We must not in anyway conclude that the likes of Ishmael or Esau (those who are not “chosen”) are destined for hell or eternal destruction. Jesus came primarily to gather and disciple those who will rule with Him at His return. In the verses below, Jesus responded to Peter who asked about their reward for leaving everything to follow Jesus.

Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” – Matthew 19:27-30

Jesus, in His reply mentioned two distinct groups of people: those who rule (you also shall sit upon twelve thrones), and those who are being ruled (the twelve tribes of Israel).


The reason Jesus came is so that the world may see Him by the way we live.

Why couldn’t the Jews inherit the promise of Abraham?

The law records how Abraham lived. And how his life of faith moved God to grant him the promise to rule with Him. But when the Jews read the law, they accentuate the promise of blessing while glossing over Abraham’s exemplary life of faith. Because of their fixation on the promise, the law did not lead them to faith but to self-indulge religion. Religion is self-serving being fixated on one’s personal salvation and benefit. But faith is about serving others, it moves one to be true and to do all things without asking for anything in return. The Jew has been told from his youth of his right (as Abraham’s descendant) to possess the promise. Thus, it is hard to tell a Jew that he cannot inherit the promise unless he gives up everything to follow Abraham’s way of life. They did not see Abraham’s act of sacrificing Isaac (his most precious possession) as an example to follow. Instead, they revel in their right as descendants of Isaac to inherit the promise.

Why couldn’t some Christians inherit the promise of Christ?

The gospels record how Jesus lived and how God grants Him the promise to rule creation. But when some Christians read the gospels, they focus on the promise of salvation while glossing over how Jesus lived. Like the Jews in Jesus’s time, they were fixated on the promise which led to self-indulge religion. Thus, they revel in their exuberant worship services, opulent buildings and promise of salvation. They became self-serving and neglected the poor among the nations. Although they were taught the finished work of the cross, they were not properly discipled in the way of the cross. Thus, it is hard to tell one who has been baptised in his youth that he cannot inherit the promise unless he is ready to sell everything to follow Jesus. Indeed, they did not see Jesus’s act of sacrificing His own life as an example to follow. Instead, they revel in having obtained salvation at the cross even though they did not walk in the way of it.

Religion veils man from seeing his true self. It causes him to arrive at a false conviction with regards to the promise. Indeed, a man looks at the outward appearance of achievement and righteousness, but God sees into the heart.

The role of the Jew and the Christian in God’s salvation plan

God appointed Israel (the nation of Jews) through which He rules the world with righteousness and compassion. God wanted Israel to show the world who He is through the way they live. God did not instruct Israel to gather blessing for themselves, but to exemplify God by serving others through divine love, wisdom and power. Regrettably, the divine privileges that Israel enjoyed did not transform them. Instead, Israel became rebellious, self-serving and oppressive even towards their kinsmen. Similarly, Jesus did not intent for Christians to keep the gospel to themselves but to love and serve the community through divine wisdom and power. But many Christians are self-indulged and distracted. And they touted themselves as having unparalleled favour with God and exclusive access to Him.

Jesus’s mission to Israel

God showed Israel His mercy by sending Jesus into their midst. Throughout His time on earth, Jesus was calling them to observe and emulate how He lived. He showed them how He dealt with people who are lost; How He healed the sick and delivered many from the curse of sin and darkness; How He stood firm preferring to die than to recant the truth; How He forgave those who persecuted Him without cause. Through Jesus’s exemplary life, God provided them a model to live the eternal life and fulfil their calling.

In Luke 10:25-37, a teacher of the law asked Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Here, he was inquiring how he could inherit Abraham’s promise. Jesus answered him saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Sensing that Jesus was referring to him, he justified himself by saying, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the parable on the Good Samaritan. In the story, the Samaritan showed mercy to a wounded man without regard to his race or religion. He extended his help purely out of love and goodwill.

The reason Jesus came is so that the world may see Him by the way we live.

There are signs that Christendom is quickly falling into the pattern of the Jews. The nations have become increasingly skeptical of Christendom. Although we preach Jesus, we did not call people to emulate how we live. Instead, we shamelessly proclaim to the world that they should follow Jesus, not the church. Thus, we hide behind a veneer of self-righteousness and religiosity. Although we preach about Jesus’s healing power, few can operate in it. Although we preach the gospel, we often compromise on the truth. Although we taught our members to seek the things above, we are preoccupied with earthly concerns. We praise Jesus passionately for His sacrificial love, but will not sacrifice our time and resources to help others. We invest much effort into packing people into churches but do little to transform the individual. We give money to the poor, but we do not go down to their level to walk with them.

Jesus spent most of His time on earth calling people to follow Him. Before He ascended to the Father, He instructed His disciples to do the same. Therefore, believers must ultimately draw people not to the church, but to God by exemplifying Jesus. The reason Jesus came is so that the world may see Him by the way we live. Hence, we must repent from our misguided and self-serving agendas. For many in Christendom did not follow Jesus’s way of life. Instead, they see Him as the means to receive healing, blessing and pardon from eternal punishment. If we do not repent, we will follow in the footsteps of the Jews and lose our inheritance.


Practise self-reflection through the following questions:

  1. Are you more concerned with knowing and doing God’s will or to have your desires fulfilled?
  2. Do you know for sure if God is pleased with you today?
  3. Do you give others the permission to tell you about your weaknesses?
  4. Do you think that Christians have monopoly over the secrets of abundant life?
  5. Do you depend on your reasoning on a certain matter as opposed to hearing God’s voice?

Dear Lord, I thank you for calling me your son and giving me the opportunity to rule with you. Help me to know you more so that I may emulate your ways. Open my senses so that I may commune with you deeply and clearly. Cause me to be the Jesus that the world will ever see. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

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