Romans Bible Study Lesson 33

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The Promise and Election

Romans 9:9—11


God promised Abraham two main things; that he would become the father of a great nation and that he would be given a specific land (Canaan). Along with these things He also promised that all people would be blessed through his seed. This blessing came about through the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

Genesis 15:5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them ” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”

Genesis 13:14—17 14The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16“I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17“Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”

Genesis 12:3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

It’s interesting that Abraham is promised that he would be made a great nation and that he would be made a father of a multitude of nations. This was a reference first to the birth of Isaac and then as a reference to his other offspring. Ishmael (the son of Abraham through Sarah’s handmaid Hagar) was promised that he would have 12 sons (Genesis 17:20; 25:12—16) and from him came many of the Arab nations today. Many of the problems Israel faces today are a direct result of Abraham having a baby by Sarah’s handmaid.

Genesis 12:1—2 1Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; 2And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;

Genesis 17:5 “No longer shall your name be called Abram,?But your name shall be Abraham;?For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.

Of course, in order for these things to happen, Abraham and Sarah would need to produce a child. The problem was that Sarah was barren and Abraham, sometime after Ishmael was born, was impotent.

Romans 4:19 Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;

Hebrews 11:12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE.

The birth of Isaac was completely by God’s doing and in His time. God restored Abraham’s body so effectively that after Sarah died he married Ketura and had at lest six additional sons.

Dust, Sand and Stars

There are those who make a distinction between the following three verses:

Genesis 13:16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.

Genesis 32:12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’ “

Genesis 26:4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,

Bultema understands the dust to represent the nation of Israel, the sand to the Mohammedan world (Muslims) and the stars are believers. Les Feldick says the sand is Israel and the stars are believers. However, Exodus 32 seems to equate Israel with the stars.

Exodus 32:13 “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

Deuteronomy 1:10 (Moses said to the Israelites) ‘The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are this day like the stars of heaven in number.

1 Chronicles 27:23 But David did not count those twenty years of age and under, because the LORD had said He would multiply Israel as the stars of heaven.

And in Jeremiah 33 the Lord compared Israel to stars and sand.

Jeremiah 33:22 ‘As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.'”

To say that the dust, sand and stars represent different people groups is pure speculation and a spiritualization of Scripture. We are not qualified to spiritualize Scripture unless God tells us in His Word that we can. As J.C. O’Hair said: Those who spiritualize tell spiritual lies with unspiritual eyes.

Since the Church was a part of the Mystery revealed only through Paul, we would be hard pressed to find references to the Church in the Old Testament. The Church can not be revealed in prophecy and also be an integral part of the Mystery.

Verses 9—10

We can now see how God worked through specific men to accomplish His formation of the nation of Israel. First Abraham was promised that he and Sarah would have a child. Then that promise carried though Isaac and Rebekah to their son Jacob. God foresaw these men and the nation that would follow.


Verse 11  Israel elected

The previous verses show how God chose certain men to be the line through whom a special nation would emerge. Israel is called a chosen nation and could just as well be called God’s elect nation. The men and the nation were elect (chosen) by God before any of them were even born and obviously before they could do anything to please or displease God. Even when Rebekah was carrying the twins, Jacob and Esau, God had already chosen the younger, Jacob, through whom the promise was to be fulfilled. The next lesson will make it clear that election is about service and not salvation.

We can see from this verse that God’s purpose is wrapped up in election. God had a purpose in choosing Abraham to be the father of the nation Israel and He had a purpose to choose Jacob over Esau. It was through Israel that God would reveal Himself and send His Son to die for the world. God did not reveal Himself through any Gentile nation.


So what does it mean to be elected or chosen? Finck gives the following definition:

The word “election” comes from the Greek word “eklectos.” In our modern vocabulary, the word “eclectic” is a direct transliteration of this word from the Greek. What does eclectic mean? It has to do with being very selective about certain things. Where does this word originate? The prefix “ek” simply means “out of” and the word “lego” (which is actually the root word) means “to call” or “to speak.” So, “eklectos” means to call out, to speak for, and call someone out unto yourself for a purpose. The word that is translated “election” is also translated “chosen,” therefore, these two words can be used interchangeably. Joel Finck, The Power of God unto Salvation Page 19

Abraham was called out. Isaac was called out. Jacob was called out. Jesus was called out (Isaiah 42:1). Paul was called out. They were called out for God’s purpose. In the following weeks we will be looking at Election and examining the usage of the term through Scripture.