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The Mystery of Mercy: God's Plan for Israel and Gentiles (Romans 11:25-36)

Romans 11:25–36 - 25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” 27 “This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” 28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.  What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Paul explains that Israel turning away is temporary. It has allowed gentiles to hear the Gospel (vv. 25-27). Though the Israelites messed up, God still cares for them expe3cially in light of the promises He made to their early leaders. His blessings never change for His faithful people (vv. 28-29). Paul goes on to say that just like Israel once was, Gentiles also refused to obey God. But now He is kind to you because the Israelites turned away (v. 30). God handed people over to their stubbornness so He could be kind to all (vv. 31-32). His choices and ways of working go far past human understanding, displaying wisdom greater than knowledge (vv. 33-35). Everything starts from Him, lasts by His power, and is for His glory – He is to be praised forever! (v. 36). How can I apply Romans 11:25-36 to my life? At first glance, these verses cover some complex theological ground - Israel's rejection, the eventual redemption of the remnant of Israel, and the victory of God's mercy. However, these verses are not just theory, they have practical implications for how we live. Paul compels self-reflection - in what ways are we like Israel, missing blessings through disobedience? Despite failures, God mercifully keeps His promises to those who believe. Though we face consequences, as His children, His kindness remains. Our limited minds cannot fully grasp the depth of God's wisdom seen in His plans and creation. But what we do understand elicits awe and worship. So in light of this passage, here are some key principles impacting our lives:

  1. Live Faithfully to Receive God's Blessings and Fulfill His Purposes (vv. 25-27): Paul explains how Israel's unfaithfulness led to them missing out on blessings, while the Gospel went to the Gentiles instead. In the same way, Christians today can miss God's intended blessings and purposes when engaging in willful sin or rebellion against Him. God may then use other faithful believers to accomplish His work. However, this should motivate us to walk closely with God and cling to Him, rather than turning away. As we live uprightly, study Scripture, pray, love others, and share our faith, we position ourselves to receive all that God has planned for us. His purposes in our lives thrive when our focus is wholly fixed on Him. But a divided heart can draw us into sin that disrupts blessing and fruitfulness. May we ardently pursue faithfulness, so nothing distracts or detaches us from the Lord. Then we will fully participate in His work on earth while experiencing satisfaction, joy, and favor that obedience brings (Genesis 39:2-6, Joshua 1:8-9, John 15:1-11, 2 Timothy 2:19-21).

Food for Thought: What areas of willful sin or rebellion may be causing you to miss out on God's blessings and intended purposes? What specific actions can you take this week to strengthen your walk with God and position yourself to receive His full blessing?

  1. Rejoice in the Mercy God Provides to All Who Believe (vv. 28-32): Though Israel missed out on really experiencing God's kindness due to their disobedience, we're reminded that His promises stand forever for those who have faith. Despite our flaws that could postpone blessings, God still calls us His children and wants to lavish mercy. What wondrous grace! Even when we don't deserve compassion, it awaits us if we sincerely seek Him. As obedience increases, so can our capacity to receive His pardoning love. While judgments and consequences may come, we can take heart that nothing overrides His commitment to shower mercy on the penitent soul. Oh, how this truth sparks gut-level joy and thankfulness within. I want to bask in forgiveness, then channel it to others. Perhaps I've held back grace owed to a friend needing empathy. I now choose mercy for their pain. Maybe our divided nation requires a dose of understanding first, not arguments. Can we picture communities if believers everywhere donned mercy as our cloak? The possibilities as redemption flows should motivate us. May our lives radiate this undeserved, but longed for, grace today (Psalm 86:5, Daniel 9:9, Micah 7:18-19, Matthew 5:7, Luke 6:36-37).

Food for Thought: What undeserved mercy and forgiveness can you extend to someone difficult this week? Are you willing to be God's vessel of compassion to mend relational rifts?

  1. Praise God for His Ways, Wisdom and Knowledge (vv. 33-36): Like Paul, we should marvel at the amazing ways in which God works and the depth of His discernment, thoughts, and plans. While we can grasp parts of His truth, the entirety surpasses our comprehension. Yet how kind that He makes known any measure of His knowledge to us at all! This alone warrants heartfelt worship. Practically, our response should be to set aside consistent times to exalt His name, meditate on His creation, and consider His mighty works revealed in Scripture. As we reflect on the vast complexity of even one flower or one human cell, we gain perspective - we are but dust compared to our omniscient Maker. This attitude leads to humility, helping us relinquish our illusion of control. It also stirs up gratitude that He lovingly imparts spiritual insight to transform us. The more we contemplate His supremacy, the smaller our struggles seem. We find peace in the knowledge that He holds the universe and our lives securely. May praise for the indescribable God continually flow from our lips! (Psalm 92:5-6, 145:3, 147:5; Isaiah 40:28; 1 Corinthians 2:16).

Food for Thought: How can you practically set aside consistent time this week to praise God for His infinite understanding and wisdom? What aspect of His knowledge inspires the most wonder and worship right now? May we reflect on how Israel's rejection of God and His provision for their redemption contains warnings against the consequences of willful sin in the believer's life. Yet despite humanity’s brokenness, God remains committed to lavishing undeserved favor upon all who turn towards Him in faith with humility. Our limited minds could never trace the full extent of His surpassing wisdom. But the glimpse we’ve been given evokes reverent awe. Let our lives overflow with worship towards this profoundly understanding God who authors the tapestry of redemptive history. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would increase my faithfulness, so that my heart would not be divided between You and idols of this world. Realign me fully to Your purposes for my life and protect me from choices outside of Your will that could disrupt Your intended blessing in my life and my fruitfulness for You. I also ask for grace to extend mercy and forgiveness to others. Soften my heart towards those I am tempted to judge, that I may show them dignity through understanding and compassion. Help me to better comprehend Your unsearchable knowledge and judgments, God. May wonder at Your wisdom overflow into praise and humility before You. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Romans 11:33 – “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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