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The Bitter End

Romans 11:7-10
What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day." And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling-block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent for ever." (NIV)

For centuries, the Children of Israel had resisted God's Word. They pretended to be self-righteous by keeping little rules, but failed to love God with all their heart and soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). Such disobedience was costly because they could no longer hear God's voice or see what He was doing. God confirmed their desire, hardening their hearts more. He demonstrated that if they did not want a relationship with Him, their religious rules would end up entrapping them, and He would close their minds to truth.

On the other hand, God chose some to have open eyes and ears. They put their trust in Him and carried the light of truth through the generations until Jesus came. The Jewish believers in Rome needed to understand that God had not included them because they were better at keeping the Jewish law, but because He had enabled them to see that salvation came only through faith in Jesus. The Gentiles came the same way. They were equal because of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

It is a habit of religious people to think that they are better than others. That must never happen in the church where everybody is a sinner saved by grace. The wonder is that God should want any of us! But when He sets His love upon us, it is such a privilege; because we are really no better than the worst sinner. However this verse warns us against unbelief and God's right to reveal His grace to whoever He chooses (Hebrews 3:12; 12:14-17). God is patient, but not for ever (Genesis 6:3). So let us not harden our hearts by unbelief and disobedience (Psalm 95:7-11).

Gracious God of justice and power. Thank You that You always do what is right. I am amazed that You should love anybody, especially me. Thank You for this reminder that I am only in Your kingdom because You have been gracious to me: it is no credit to my good works. Help me to remember that access to Your throne is a privileged gift and that I must never harden my heart against Your love or despise Your grace. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams