A Place of Struggle

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 72-73; Romans 9:1-15

But it’s not as though God’s word has failed. Not all who are descended from Israel are part of Israel. Not all of Abraham’s children are called Abraham’s descendants, but instead your descendants will be named through Isaac. That means it isn’t the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children from the promise who are counted as descendants. The words in the promise were: A year from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son.

10 Not only that, but also Rebecca conceived children with one man, our ancestor Isaac. 11 When they hadn’t been born yet and when they hadn’t yet done anything good or bad, it was shown that God’s purpose would continue because it was based on his choice. 12 It wasn’t because of what was done but because of God’s call. This was said to her: The older child will be a slave to the younger one. 13 As it is written, I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.

14 So what are we going to say? Isn’t this unfair on God’s part? Absolutely not! 15 He says to Moses, I’ll have mercy on whomever I choose to have mercy, and I’ll show compassion to whomever I choose to show compassion.

When I am honest with myself, I really struggle with today’s passage from Romans 9. As much as I love Romans 8, Romans 9 is that much of a struggle for me. We read, “Not all of Abraham’s children are called Abraham’s descendants, but instead your descendants will be named through Isaac.” Paul is clearly alluding to Ishmael. He also says that Isaac’s children are children of the promise.

I struggle here because in Genesis 17:20 we read, “As for Ishmael, I’ve heard your request. I will bless him and make him fertile and give him many, many descendants. He will be the ancestor of twelve tribal leaders, and I will make a great nation of him.” God is promising Abraham that God will make a great nation from the descendants of Ishmael and then destine them all for damnation? When we read in 1 John that God is love, I have a hard time reconciling these two passages is difficult for me to do.

I understand what Paul was saying here. Paul’s intent clearly is an to attempt to bring at least some of the Jews into the fold of Christianity. And, Paul is right, God, being omnipotent can bring anyone God wants into the Kingdom. God can show mercy when God chooses and the opposite is equally true.

For some of you, this may not be a struggle at all. I am truly glad you can. And, when I am face to face with God, perhaps then, I can get an explanation I can better understand. In the meantime, I have to satisfy myself with the knowledge that because of faith in Jesus Christ, I am a child of the promise. Might those children of Ishmael be part of that promise too? From what I can see, it doesn’t look too likely, but in the end, the really good news is, it isn’t my call and it isn’t your call. God alone will decide who is and who is not a child of the promise. Can we really ask any more than that?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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