“I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” Romans 9:1-5 NIV
Paul is clearly devastated by his people’s lack of faith. He wants them to have the fullness of God’s promise and yet they turn away from Christ. We all know people in our lives like this – the prodigals, our co-workers, our boss, our friends, etc. It is easy to get caught up with the worldly concerns and not think about the souls we love and care for who aren’t saved. Does this give any conviction to care more about them? Paul is a great example of love – love them so much you hurt for their spiritual well-being.
Paul’s writing continues, he doesn’t stop with just admitting he hurts for his friends.
“It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son. 10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Romans 9:6-15 NIV
First off – “It is NOT as though God’s word had failed” – we know the word of God never returns void.
“so shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: It shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 KJV
Interestingly enough he uses the word of God to explain himself. The lives of the people named here were examples of humans failing on their own but God had mercy and blessed them – but because of their works or their attempts to do things themselves. God grants mercy on whomever he wants.
Mercy is an interesting thing which is all wrapped up or entangled with grace. It is quite difficult to have one without the other. We all know I ramble on and on about the blessed grace that saved me – yet mercy has been right there with it all along.
“It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Romans 9:16 NIV
Mercy – it has nothing to do with us or anything we can do for ourselves. We should just pray for a better understanding of grace and mercy and pray. (Yes, I know, that is my go to answer: grace, mercy and prayer. But it does solve many things.)
“For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” Romans 9:17-18 NIV
So Paul starts this chapter with his heart breaking for his people, and now, through quoting scriptures, he is revealing the way he prays for them. Paul is ever logical with his approach – “Therefore”. This is the logical conclusion of all these bible passages: “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden” and so the only logical conclusion for us is to pray for mercy on and softening of those who we are praying for. As I have quoted the verses before – a righteous man can change God’s mind away from wrath to mercy went we are also praying God’s will (which is love and mercy).
Sadly, not everyone will be saved, but that should not thwart us from sharing Jesus and praying for others – actually it should compel you. I stumbled into this passage through seeking God for how I need to pray for my sweet friend and my son (and others). It leads to me thinking much more intentionally about my prayers.
For example – I think about the prodigal son passage. If the prodigal was blessed and covered in mercies (as we often think of mercies) then would he have had to come to his senses and return? If my sweet friend hurt me in one huge and very not sweet gesture of betrayal, maybe I would pray more mercifully for him – maybe? But it was mercy and blessings as the Lord sees fit that did draw the prodigal home. And it will be blessings and mercy as the Lord sees fit (with the softening of his heart) that will bring my sweet friend home.
“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3 NKJ
The prodigal went home because of the goodness, kindness, and love. It is God’s goodness that draws men to Him. It is pure love – the forgiveness kind of love – the acceptance kind of love – the GOD kind of love!!! And that is mercy – given when I did not deserve it, when you did not deserve it – and when these people I pray for do not deserve it.
Are you feeling led to be more merciful? To love mercy?
Lord help us see people the way you see them. Please help us to extend mercy in our actions and in our prayers. Help us to pray in the harvest and go into the field and gather as you direct. In Jesus name – Amen.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!
~Grace be with you ~
~Thank you for reading ~ Be healthy and blessed ~
~ Watch and Pray ~