When Prophecy Doesn’t Add Up: Romans 9:6
Romans 9:6 “But it is not as though the Word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Abraham.”
Paul was going through a theological crisis. As a former Pharisee, Hebrew Scholar and Master of the Law, he was well versed in God’s plan for Israel. But as a whole, the nation of Israel was off script in his day. They were supposed to welcome and embrace the Messiah who was coming to restore Israel and reign on the throne of David; but instead they rejected Him and even led the charge to have Him crucified. Reality did not line up with Paul’s understanding of Old Testament Prophecy. Let’s explore the problem.
It is much easier to look back from our vantage point today which is nearly 2,000 years later and grasp the mystery. Paul did not have the luxury of understanding the full duration of the church age or that biblical prophecy would be fulfilled literally for Israel in the end times. He was trying to fit the pieces of prophesy together in the perspective of his day and age.
For him and many in the early church, it looked like the word of God had failed. (Look at Romans 9:6) Things were in chaos. The nation of Israel had gone rouge toward their Messiah while the Gentiles were turning to the Gospel in groves. It did not fit their understanding of prophecy.
Acts 1:6-7 is a great example of their limited perspective. Right after His resurrection, the disciples began asking Jesus; “Lord, is it at this time you are going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” They were trying to force end time prophecy and the earthly reign of the Messiah into their day and a possible Jewish liberation from Rome. When I casually read the Old Testament, I understand their mindset.
Ok, I believe we can learn some important lessons from this disconnect. First, God’s prophetic Word is always right when understood from God’s timing and perspective. The perspective of the early church was way to limited in the first century. Many pieces of the prophecy puzzle were not fitting together.
Second, all Scripture is for us but not all Scripture is to us. For example, I have gleamed much from the book of Leviticus over the years, but I am not going set up an altar to burn sacrifices during our church service. Those Scriptures were for a different time and age. The same is true for end time prophecy and the nation of Israel. They will enthusiastically welcome their Messiah in the future.
Third, there are still many mysteries that will unfold in the end times. I do not have it all figured out. I am slowly learning to not put God in a box of my own understanding as it relates to the end times. The truth is that my mind can logically line Scriptures up several different ways to create possible scenarios of the end times. Some are in tension with others. But God does not call us to figure out the end times, He calls us to fulfill the Great Commission!
That last sentence was the secret of the early church. They were willing to walk by faith and accept biblical mysteries they did not understand while focusing on God’s revealed plan for them. We need to do the same. We need to embrace our Great Commission call with the same fervor of the early church while leaving the future to the Sovereign will and plan of God.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global