In the opening chapter of Romans, Paul stated that he desired to impart “some spiritual gift” to them such that they (the believers at Rome) might be established. In the text before us, cites passages from Genesis, Exodus and the prophet Malachi such that all believers might established in knowing God.
When Paul states that they are not all Israel which are of Israel in verse 6, he is speaking of two different groups, spiritual descendants of Abraham and physical descendants of Abraham. Paul and the Jews within the church at Rome were members of both groups. Gentile believers at Rome consisted only of Abraham’s spiritual descendants. Before knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Paul and the Jews to whom Paul speaks, were physical descendants only. They became spiritual sons of Abraham when they experienced a spiritual birth. What causes some to be second born and others not? Paul answers this in verse 6. The word of God causes some to believe and some to turn away.
Believers, both Jews and Gentiles, read the scriptures with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Nonbelievers read Genesis 21:12 differently from believers. Both Isaac and Ishmael were sons of Abraham according to the flesh but only in Isaac would Abraham’s seed be called.
In verse 8, Paul states that being of the flesh does not make one a child of God. Isaac was both a child of promise and a child of Abraham according to the flesh. While being a child of Abraham according to the flesh does not make one a child of the promised blessing, God counts every child of promise as Abraham’s seed. Paul’s words are directed at Jews within the church who believed that they possessed a special standing with God because they were sons of Abraham according to the flesh. Paul makes it known that what counts with God is not DNA but BLA (Believing Like Abraham).
Isaac, not Ishmael, was the child that God promised. In verse 9, Paul states God’s promise to Abraham. The promised seed of Abraham would be Sarah’s son. The promise links the Lord’s coming with the miracle birth of Isaac. It is God, not man, who links His coming to a miracle birth. It is through and by the Holy Spirit that believers know that Isaac’s birth is a picture of the future virgin birth of Christ.
In verses 10 through 13, Paul reveals that God used the birth of Esau and Jacob to demonstrate that God favors the second born. Rebecca did not conceive of twins by accident of birth. God made it happen. Rebecca sensed that the activity within her womb was not normal and she went to God in prayer. God told her that she would bear twins and that the older would serve the younger. Paul notes that the unborn twins were equal in regard to sin. Neither had done good or evil. Yet God announced that it would be the second born that would have favor with Him. Again, the second born, not the first born, that found favor with God. The second born had favor with God before he was born. It is by His design, not accident of birth, that God would favor the second born over the first born. The Holy Spirit reveals God’s way to all who believe.
God preserved Jacob but not Esau. In verse 14, Paul asks if God’s unequal treatment of Esau constitutes unrighteousness. God forbid. God answers to no man but God has the answer for all men: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” God chose the second born because God, in His foreknowledge, knew the second born before he was born. God chose all who would believe upon His only begotten Son before they believed upon Him. Paul confronts the Jews in the church at Rome with an undeniable truth. God did not choose them because they were physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God does not grant mercy and compassion because men desire (will) it or because of that which men do (runneth). God’s mercy and compassion are not rewards for that which men may do. One is the beneficiary of God’s mercy and compassion because God is God and knows who shall believe and who shall not.
God does not hide His ways from men. Far from it. He boldly declares His ways in His scriptures. God openly declared His way to an unbelieving Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16. The Lord God elevated Pharaoh to head the most powerful nation on earth for a specific purpose: “(T)hat my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”
God has mercy on whom He will have mercy, and hardens whom He will harden for a purpose. God desires that all men should know Him. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). God reaches out with love to all who shall believe. God made all men to believe but chose to give His love to those who would believe.
He has bestowed His love upon us such that we might declare what He has done. We are called to be agents of His purpose. He has chosen us that others may believe.