Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Romans 9 - Part 4


Romans 9:28-39



Romans 9:28 "for the Lord will execute His word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short"


"Finishing it and cutting it short": (Isaiah 10:22-23), "thoroughly and quickly" (NASV), "Bringing that to an issue, winding up" (Lenski p. 631). "Because of their unbelief, God would cut off His people, exercising sharp and decisive sentence upon them" (Erdman p. 120). The remnant would be saved, the unbelievers punished. In Isaiah's day the Assyrians would punish Israel. In like manner, the good and honest hearts in Judaism had come to Christ (Acts 6:7) (a remnant); the rest would face judgment in A.D. 70. God moved quickly. God does keep His promises as well as His threats, what God has revealed in the Scriptures is exactly what God has done and will do (2 Peter 3:9). We should note that the term "remnant" (9:27) infers that most will be lost. "Meaning a remnant only. This implies that great multitudes of them would be "cast off," and "be not saved." If only a remnant was to be saved, many must be lost; and this was just the point, which the apostle was endeavoring to establish. The word "remnant" means what is left, particularly what may remain after a battle or a great calamity, 2 Kings 19:31; 10:11; Judg 5:11; Isa 14:22. In this place, however, it means a small part or portion. Out of the great multitude there shall be so few left as to make it proper to say that it was a mere remnant. This implies, of course, that the great mass should be cast away or rejected. And this was the use which the apostle intended to make of it" (Barnes Notes).


Romans 9:29 "And, as Isaiah hath said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We had become as Sodom, and had been made like unto Gomorrah"


"As Isaiah hath said before": This is a quotation from Isaiah 1:9. Paul had just cited one prediction from the book of Isaiah (9:28), and now he cites another from the same prophet. For translations that have the name Esaias, this is the Greek spelling of the name Isaiah.


"The Lord of Sabaoth": The word "Sabaoth" is pronounced SABB a ohth, and means literally, "Lord of hosts". It doesn’t mean "Sabbath". This title presents God as the commander in chief of the armies of heaven that no human power can stand against successfully. It includes the angels who are represented as marshaled or arranged into military orders (Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:15; Jude 6; 1 Kings 22:19, "I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him;" Ps 103:21; 148:2).



"Had left us a seed": "Posterity" (NASV), that is, the remnant in verse 27. This verse proves that the vast majority in the Jewish nation was never true to God, for Isaiah says, that without this remnant of the faithful, God would have wiped us out long ago. We would have become a second Sodom and Gomorrah (cities wiped off the face of the earth, absolutely nothing left of them). For want of 10 righteous people (Genesis 18:32), these cities were doomed. "Among the Israelites, in a time of great general depravity, a small number of holy men were found who preserved the nation" (Barnes Notes). This had been true at other times during the lifetime of the Jewish nation as well (1 Kings 19:18).


Point to Note:


Too often we feel sorry for ourselves that we are small in number compared to other world religions, but be impressed that the faithful have never, in any age, been in the majority or even close to it. What preserved the Jewish nation from destruction was the "remnant", a small handful of faithful people. If we were in the majority, then we would need to worry! The remnant, though small in number has tremendous power and influence; God keeps nations alive because of the remnant. The only thing at times that keeps any nation from becoming just like Sodom and Gomorrah is the handful of righteous people who live in that nation. This verse really affirms the concept of the slippery slope and that the only thing keeping any group of people, including churches from going completely off the deep end, is the adherence to Biblical truth. We saw the same truth in Romans 1:18ff.


Romans 9:30 "What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, who followed not after righteousness, attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith"


"Followed not after": People who hadn't made righteousness their chief concern in life (Isaiah 65:1"'I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me"). The contrast here is on a national scale, as a whole Israel had always been a religious nation. The Gentiles on a whole had been people, which had little to do with such spiritual pursuits. And yet such people who seemed to be so unconcerned about righteousness, flocked to it when it was introduced to them (Acts 13:48; 17:12; 18:6-8).



Romans 9:31 "but Israel, following after a law of righteousness, did not arrive at {that} law"


"Law of righteousness": "Seeking justification by law" (Nor); "righteousness which is based on law" (RSV); "a Law that could give righteousness" (Wey). Here the mentality of the Jewish nation is stressed. Many Jews were looking for a Law, the keeping of which would bring a right standing with God. "Did not arrive at that law": Since no one can keep the law perfectly (3:23); they failed to achieve a law-based right standing with God. The Law is vital, and no man will be saved without his obedience to God’s law (Matthew 7:21-23) but many in Israel wanted to base their acceptance with God solely on the merits of their law-keeping ability, and all such efforts have failed (Romans 3:23). The Jewish nation forgot that obedience to the Law must come from the motive of "faith" and trust in God. As one writer said, "Paul will go on to show that the only reason Israel didn't attain to what they were looking for was because they refused to accept themselves as objects of mercy" (McGuiggan p. 302).


Romans 9:32 "Wherefore? Because {they sought it} not by faith, but as it were by works. They stumbled at the stone of stumbling"


"Wherefore?" "Why was this" (Knox). "Because they sought it not by faith": "Because their efforts were not based on faith" (NEB).


Their whole religious attitude was that they thought they could put God under obligation to save them by means of their moral performance, what they did, and to whom they were related. Throughout the O.T. we find the Jewish nation demonstrating this attitude. They wanted to trust in Assyria or Egypt, in their own ingenuity, foreign militarism, alliances, tribute to other nations and the gods of other nations. The one object of trust that they couldn't seem to allow themselves to believe in, was God. Do we ever demonstrate the same type of failure to trust in God? Do we find ourselves thinking, "God is nice for Sunday morning, but when I am in trouble, in real life, God isn't very useful. In those times, one must be realistic and rely on other things"?


"They stumbled at the stone of stumbling": That is, the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Matthew 21:42-45; Acts 4:10-11; 1 Peter 2:6-8).


Romans 9:33 "even as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence: And he that believeth on Him shall not be put to shame"


"As it is written": Isaiah 28:16. This failure to trust God had manifested itself in the rejection of the Son of God. "When Jehovah manifested himself in Christ the spirit of the Jew was no different (Acts 7:51-52). To save themselves, the Jews made a covenant with death (Acts 2:23; John 11:47-50) and used Roman power in an attempt to gain their ends".


"I lay..a stone": As God had been the only true foundation for His people in the O.T., Jesus Christ would be the only true foundation for those in the N.T. "A rock of offence": This verse is interesting. Reading it carefully you find that the verse is saying, "The only people that God offends are those that can't bring themselves to trust in Him, that is, the people who are turned off by Christianity are people who view themselves as not needing any mercy, people who view themselves as self-sufficient, able to handle their own problems, and good enough without the blood of Jesus Christ. The accusation that Christians are "self-righteous" is such a contradiction. How can anyone who admits they are a sinner and that without Jesus they can’t be saved, be "self-righteous"? The person who really is self-righteous, is the person who says they don’t need Jesus in their life. Basically they are saying that God will accept them just as they are, they are that "good". "He is called rock of stumbling, not because it was the design of sending Him that people should fall, but because such would be the result. The application of the term "rock" to the Messiah is derived from the custom of building, as He is the "cornerstone" or the "immovable foundation" on which the church is to be built. It is not on human merits, but by the righteousness of the Savior, that the church is to be reared; see 1 Peter 2:4," I lay in Zion "a chief cornerstone;" Ps 118:22, "The stone which the builders rejected, is become the head stone of the corner;" Eph 2:20, "Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone." This rock, designed as a corner stone to the church, became, by the wickedness of the Jews, the block over which they fall into ruin; 1 Peter 2:8" (Barnes Notes).


"Shall not be put to shame": Jesus has never failed those who put their trust in Him! "The Hebrew is, "shall not make haste," as it is in our English version. This is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word; but it means also "to be afraid;" as one who makes haste often is; to be agitated with fear or fright; and hence, it has a signification nearly similar to that of shame. It expresses the substance of the same thing, namely, "failure of obtaining expected success and happiness." The meaning here is, that the man who believes shall not be agitated, or thrown into commotion, by fear of want or success: shall not be disappointed in his hopes; and, of course, he shall never be ashamed that he became a Christian. They who do not believe in Christ shall be agitated, fall, and sink into eternal shame and contempt. Dan 12:2. They who do believe shall be confident; shall not be deceived, but shall obtain the object of their desires. It is clear that Paul regarded the passage in Isaiah as referring to the Messiah" (Barnes Notes).


Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017