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Romans 9:1-5



I speak the truth in Christ - I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit - I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

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In a day of rising antisemitism, this passage pushes powerfully in the other direction. Paul got it absolutely right. Here’s what I see.


First off, there’s the unique position and privilege of the Jewish people. They were chosen and called and blessed beyond any other nation. Yes, every human being is God’s “offspring” (Acts 17:28), in the sense of being created by his hand. But the nation of Israel was uniquely privileged to be called God’s own son. When the Lord rebuked Pharaoh in Egypt, telling him to release Israel from slavery, he said to him: “Israel is my firstborn son … Let my son go” (Exodus 4:22-23). That’s a weighty statement. This is a special people.


Further, Israel experienced the Lord’s glory, right in their midst, before their very eyes, as they were delivered from Egypt with signs and wonders. They experienced it again as he miraculously brought them into the Promised Land. It continued as they were given the Lord’s promises, received his revelation, and were invited into his very presence in worship. This was divine privilege, lavished on them. Uniquely.


But, beyond it all, they were chosen as the human family into whose midst the Son of God himself would be birthed in human flesh. When God chose to take up residence among us, it was the Jewish people who were privileged as the conduit. All humanity has thus received grace upon grace. But the Jewish nation was touched by it first. They were embraced into God’s rescue plan, being made partakers of his purpose.


This leads to the second point. All humanity should be eternally grateful. Don’t we see the magnitude of the gift? Israel was blessed to be a blessing, and we have become the recipients. The blessing has been abundantly poured out. Jesus our Redeemer is here! His entrance into the world has come about through the Jewish nation. How can we do anything but give thanks?


Thirdly, once we grasp even a portion of this abundance, it leads to the depth of grief that grips Paul himself. “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” (verse 2). Why? Because in Paul’s day, the bulk of the Jewish community rejected the gift of Messiah. They turned their back on the fulfilment of their own heritage. They failed to lay hold of the blessing poured out through them, the very grace of God slipping through their fingers.


That grief remains today. Yes, there is heartache for the whole of humanity that continues to turn a blind eye to the gift of God. But there is a special anguish for our Jewish brothers and sisters who have turned aside from their birthright. They were blessed to be a blessing. Now that blessing has come, in great abundance, but they themselves, by and large, have remained untouched.


Oh, may the Lord refresh the blessing, renew the calling, and redeem this special people. May he break the hearts of those, outside the circle, who have been redeemed through their heritage. May he stir up passionate prayers, like Paul’s, to yearn for a new work among Abraham’s scattered children. May it be.

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O Sovereign Lord, I stand in awe of your divine choice to uniquely bless this special people, making them a source of blessing to all humanity. I pray that out of your abundant grace, through your Son Jesus, you would renew the blessing in this day. “And so all Israel will be saved.” May it be. In Jesus’ name. To his glory. Amen.

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Pray:

Take time right now, and throughout the day, to pray for the redemption of the Jewish people. Pray for those you know by name. Pray for those you don’t know. Ask the Lord to work miraculously, once again.

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Photo by Ben Ostrower on Unsplash

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