Have you ever had someone show or teach you something that seems obvious once you understand it, but which you had totally missed before? This is where we might say “well, duh…why didn’t I see that before?” (Or, maybe you don’t say, “duh”, but you still kind of wonder why you didn’t see the connection or the explanation previously.)
Continuing from Romans 9:22-24 (cited in the previous article), verse 24 adds the good news for us (whether we are Jewish or not), which fits in with other things that Paul wrote in the book of Romans: God’s patience and mercy isn’t for just biological descendants of Abraham, but it is extended to all those who receive the same declaration of righteousness from God, based on their faith. (In fact, Paul mentioned something similar in Romans 9:8.).
Building upon the good news in verse 24 – that the Gentiles can receive God’s mercy, because of God’s patience – Paul illustrates (to an audience that would probably have known the Prophets) that this good news isn’t new information:
As he says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”
“In the very place where it was said to them,
‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ”
Romans 9:25-26 NIV
Even in the 8th century before Christ, God had already promised to include others into His family, even those who were far from being His people. Have you ever heard the old Bill Gaither song that says, “I’m so glad that I’m a part of the family of God”? (See BILL GAITHER – THE FAMILY OF GOD LYRICS (songlyrics.com)]), if you haven’t.) If we have received God’s promise of inclusion into His family, we should indeed be glad about that.
If you have ever felt – or been told – that you’re not part of God’s family, I hope that you are encouraged by these verses. If someone said – incorrectly – that God couldn’t love you, this verse (and plenty of others in the Bible) explains that this statement is clearly untrue: God does love you. If you don’t think that you’re the sort of person who could be God’s child, God Himself says otherwise!
Yes, our choices to sin (which affects all of us: you, me, and our neighbors) separate us from God, but the amazing news of the God’s Word (i.e., the Bible) tells us that God loved us enough to pay the price for our sins. By believing in His promise to forgive our sins (through Jesus’ voluntary sacrifice for us) and turning our lives back over to God, those sins – past, present, or future – no longer keep us from rejoining God’s family and being called children of God. This isn’t new information, either: God planned it from the start, because He loves us (see Romans 5:6-8 for more of this great news).
And, for those who already follow Jesus, and are celebrating the joy of being returned to God’s family, we must make sure that we appreciate God’s love for all people. Since this letter was written to people in Rome (see Romans 1:7), I’m pretty sure that the original recipients would have a good idea of how Gentiles lived (or even how non-believing Jewish people behaved, as a commentator suggested), and in first-century Rome, public behavior could get pretty ugly with sin. In the same way, if we sometimes feel like we’re living in – or maybe exiled to – the heathen Roman Empire (or a metaphorical Babylon), let’s not forget that God is patient with even unbelieving societies, not because any of us deserve it, but because of His mercy, making His glory known. After all, God had mercy on Nineveh, even if it meant getting an “oceanic Uber” for His prophet Jonah!
So, if you feel far from God today, remember that He is close to you. Turn around and meet Him, and He will take you back. Your sins have already been taken care of.
And, if you do feel close to God today, don’t forget to extend the same patience that He does to those who still need to meet Him. Their sins have already been paid for, too.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for January 23, 2022
- The Lookout, January 23, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 2, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1998.