Today’s Reading: Jer 49:1–39, Rom 11:25–12:8, Prov 26:12–28
Today’s Theme: A Living Sacrifice
Today is Christmas day when we rejoice and celebrate the coming of our King Jesus to save His people. It is timely that today’s reading looks at the ultimate salvation that will come to Israel because of God’s irrevocable call and promises.
One of the key themes we see in Chapter 12 of Romans is the call to transformation and to live our lives as a living sacrifice before God in light of His grace and by His Spirit. Let’s remember that this Christmas day.
Disposes the enemy
Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will cause the battle cry to be heard against Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall become a desolate mound, and its villages shall be burned with fire; then Israel shall dispossess those who dispossessed him, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 49:2, ESV)
We need to disposes the enemy, he dispossessed us, now we need to take back what is ours.
It is Christmas day, today we celebrate the coming of our King who has won the victory for us, now in His name we can boldly plunder the enemies camp and get back all that rightly belongs to us in Christ including the salvation of our loved ones. Enter Christmas day with that confidence today, Emmanuel, God is with us.
Mercy in judgement
Leave your fatherless children; I will keep them alive; and let your widows trust in me.” (Jeremiah 49:11, ESV)
God remains merciful and faithful even in the midst of judgement. As we will read later, He never totally cast off his people, but in mercy, grace and love remains faithful to them even when they have been unfaithful.
There is none greater
For I have sworn by myself, declares the Lord, that Bozrah shall become a horror, a taunt, a waste, and a curse, and all her cities shall be perpetual wastes.” (Jeremiah 49:13, ESV)
God swears by Himself because there is no greater power to swear by. When God swears by Himself we can be confident that He will fulfil His word because He is God! He is all powerful and never lies or fails.
The only Sovereign
Behold, like a lion coming up from the jungle of the Jordan against a perennial pasture, I will suddenly make him run away from her. And I will appoint over her whomever I choose. For who is like me? Who will summon me? What shepherd can stand before me? (Jeremiah 49:19, ESV)
God declares His sovereignty which no mere creation can challenge. No one can stand before God, He will cause the Lion to flee for there is none like Him. We worship Him this Christmas morning. He is the Sovereign king who has won our salvation and brought us everlasting peace and joy. Hallelujah!
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (Romans 11:25, ESV)
Paul has been discussing a historical salvation pattern with us, of hardening or rejection of the children of Israel, leading to salvation for the nations which leads to their jealousy and salvation and so makes his point really clear here that the hardening of Israel is temporary.
It will only last in it’s current context until a designated, preordained, elect number of Gentiles have come into the kingdom. This points to the fact that one of the great signs of the end of days will be a major and general turning of ethnic Jews to Christ.
The Holy Spirit will by His power soften their hearts and open their eyes as God displays His everlasting love for the elect among his people Israel.
This should lead us to pray that God would use us in the gathering of a people from all nations and in the re-gathering of the children of Israel under the rule of King Jesus.
As a side note it is important to understand from a theological perspective that we do not believe in double predestination where God just predestined to block some from salvation condemning them to hell, the hardening of hearts and blinding of eyes always has its roots in man’s unbelief and sin as Paul has already explained.
All Israel will be saved
And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; (Romans 11:26, ESV)
When Paul says all Israel he is using a corporate term, not speaking of spiritual Israelites but ethnic Jews and he does not mean every last one will involuntarily be saved or be saved in any other way than each individual having to put their faith and trust in Jesus as King, Lord and Saviour. Jesus is the only way to salvation as Paul has clearly demonstrated.
All Israel was used approximately 60 times in the Old Testament and means a number so large and significant that it represents the whole nation and will be in sharp contrast to today’s situation where only a remnant are saved.
We eagerly look forward to and pray for this day. This is the greatest sign of the end and will possibly happen at or just before the second coming of Christ.
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29, ESV)
God’s calling to salvation and specific gifts to Israel as a people are irrevocable. This is why we hold that the land some call Palestine belongs to the ethnic Jews.
However the context here is far more important than the land, it is talking about God’s promises for salvation and peace which came at the first Christmas and is now available to all who would come.
We can have confidence that God will fulfill His word to Israel and this should give us assurance and joy concerning our own calling or election and the promise and gifts of grace God has made to us.
We have confidence and assurance that God will save and keep His people (Jew and Gentile) because He is faithful. This is one of the reasons we called the production we did as part of the Ezra Foundation in 2013 Chosen, because God made a sovereign choice that cannot be revoked with Israel which should fill all God’s Chosen with hope and joy.
All without distinction
For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. (Romans 11:32, ESV)
We are reminded about the universality of sin and our need for mercy. “All” means without distinction God will have mercy not without exception as that would mean all are saved apart from Christ.
Break out in praise
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33, ESV)
God’s wisdom and knowledge is indeed deep and Paul breaks out in praise here when he considers the way the Lord set about to save the whole world using His people Israel as a catalyst and using the unimaginable death and resurrection of His Son.
This Christmas let’s breakout in praise too as we consider God’s commitment and mission to save all His elect people.
To him be the glory
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36, ESV)
When we consider God as we look at His acts recorded in His word and experienced in our lives we see that He is the source, sustainer and goal of all life. Truly He alone is glorious and worthy of our adoration and praise.
As the Angels sang on the first Christmas let’s give Him glory today.
A living sacrifice
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1, ESV)
We are not Gnostics believing we can do what we want with our flesh but be holy in our spirit. Presenting our physical bodies is a very spiritual act of worship. Christianity is real and practical, it is not esoteric or ethereal but is firm and solid.
Paul’s teaching, theology and arguments are all aimed at instructing his readers in the practical living of the Christian life.
This was written for us and particularly today, it is Christmas day and the temptation will be to indulge the flesh, let’s remember today and everyday that God is with us, actually dwelling in our bodies as a temple by the Holy Spirit, so let’s live our lives in the flesh in holiness and self control to the glory of God. It is the least we can do in light of this glorious Gospel of God.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)
We should be transformed and the means by which this has to be done is by our minds being renewed which is done through the work of the Holy Spirit as we feed on the truth of God’s word.
This is a key theme for Paul and one of the goals of this letter, to see practical, real transformation. This is the power of the gospel at work in the believer.
We must make a conscious decision to not conform to the ways of the world. We should instead allow our nature to be transformed by the Holy Spirit so that our natural response will be to do God’s will and we will know God’s truth in such a natural way that we will indeed know what God’s will is in any given situation.
The measure we are transformed against is the truth revealed in the Gospel of God and recorded in the pages of the Bible where we find God’s will clearly displayed and defined.
Show your family that you are transformed this Christmas day and every day to the glory of God.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3, ESV)
Our culture is so egocentric that sober judgement seems alien. We must not think of ourselves as more than we are but should be humble before God and man living according to the faith God has lovingly and individually provided for each of His elect children.
Live in light of God’s grace, you were chosen and now stand and will finish the race all by God’s grace extended to you so don’t be foolish and prideful. Live in gratitude to God’s amazing and undeserved grace.
The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly. (Proverbs 26:16, ESV)
The sluggard is not only lazy, selfish and cowardly but is also very prideful. These are all traits we need to guard against… especially after a big Christmas dinner 🙂
For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (Proverbs 26:20, ESV)
When we learn to be content there will be no room for quarrelling. Whatever presents you get or do not get, be content.
Don’t harbor hate
Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; (Proverbs 26:24, ESV)
This becomes a rotten stinking pool and ends up poisoning the one harbouring the evil and those around them.
Have a blessed Christmas day.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
Desiring God on Romans 12