“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
Today’s verse passage ends a remarkable section in Paul’s epistle to the Romans that we might call “Israelology 101.” That is, this section of three chapters (9-11) gives us Paul’s inspired view of national-ethnic Israel and its place in the plans and purposes of God. After informing his readers of humanity’s sin problem (Romans 1-3) Paul moves on to the solution, which is Christ and His redemptive work (Romans 4-5). In the next two chapters (6-7) Paul discusses what amounts to proper Christian conduct and our ongoing struggle with sin in our flesh. From there he moves into one of the greatest chapters in all the Bible (Romans 8) in which he looks ahead to the future glorification of Christ’s redeemed. At long last, the struggle with sin will be over and body, soul, and spirit, we will be fit for citizenship in heaven. The section ends with a wonderful crescendo, “For I am persuaded,” wrote Paul, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Suddenly, Paul’s thinking drifted to his beloved nation, now locked in unbelief. “I say the truth in Christ,” wrote the great apostle, “I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:”
(Romans 9:1-3). Paul goes on to celebrate the fact that God had granted Israel tremendous blessings, privileges, and responsibilities. They are His special and unique covenant people. Why then are are they resistant to the Gospel? Paul assures us it is not because the word of God is powerless or has failed (Romans 9:6); God’s word has and is accomplishing all that He intends it to. God not only foresaw Israel’s hardness to His redemptive plan as revealed in Christ and His Gospel, He used their very hardness to accomplish His purposes. That is, the leaders of unbelieving Israel engineered Christ’s judicial murder, unaware that at His death, the Lord would defeat Satan and the forces of darkness while making this world savable (1 Corinthians 2:6-9; 2 Corinthians 5:14-19; Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Timothy 4:10). There is a certain irony here that we should not miss. Just as the hardness of Israel’s bitter enemy, the Pharaoh, led to a stupendous display of redemptive love and liberating power at the exodus (Romans 9:17), unbelieving Israel’s hardness to Christ and His claims has accomplished the very same thing for a world in bondage to sin. Truly, God’s wisdom is unsearchable. As we contemplate these marvellous and mysterious things, let us also praise and thank our God for His abounding grace and matchless love. Hallelujah!