The Advantages Israel Enjoyed
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Paul loved his kin and fellow countrymen, the Jews. The Apostle had great respect for their privileges and was quick to admit their advantages.
Romans 9:4b …and to them belong the adoption, …
This name Israel connected the Jews to the man who wrestled with God and received His blessing (Gen. 32:28, Hosea 12:3). The title “Israelite” is dear to all Jews. They have always considered it a designation of honor.
Distinguished from Earth’s other nations, the Israelites were adopted as God’s special family. YHWH commanded Moses to tell Pharaoh, “This is what Yahweh says: Israel is My firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22).
Romans 9:4c …the glory, …
This is the splendor of light that shown among the Israelites to prove God’s special presence among them. It went before them in the wilderness and rested above the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies (Exodus 40:34).
Romans 9:4d …the covenants, …
A covenant is an agreement for mutual profit based on stipulations. It is amazing to think God would enter into any kind of covenant with sinners.
Nevertheless, God made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Gen. 17:2; 26:3; 28:13). God promised to bless all the earth through them.
YHWH made another covenant, promising an eternal dynasty of kings would proceed from David (2 Samuel 7:16). God also promised that someday He would establish a new covenant with Israel (Jeremiah 31:31).
God promised to provide benefits for Israel. He intended for them to be a chosen nation ministering salvation to all other nations.
Romans 9:4e …the giving of the law, …
In Israel’s presence, God descended and touched Mt. Sinai, turning it into a volcanic earthquake (Exodus 19:18). In this setting, God gave Israel precepts that far exceeded anything known to the Gentiles (PS 147:19-20).
While other nations groped in darkness, Israel knew exactly what God expected. YHWH Himself told them what was best for them. The Law was a gift that brought as its result untold national blessings for Israel. It remains a major reason why Jews still exist as a separate and distinct group to this day.
Romans 9:4f …the temple service, …
They enjoyed God-given methods of worship. They received aids that helped accommodate the approach of their spirits to God. While other nations groveled in the mire of idolatry, Israel had a temple and synagogues, sacrifices and altars, priest and feasts. These pointed them to the living God.
Romans 9:4g …and the promises.
Due to the covenants, Israel was given predictions regarding future blessings they would receive. The promises centered on a coming Messiah, whose kingdom would consummate the blessings of God for Israel.
Promises of a coming One supported Jews and bolstered their faith in times of distress. They saw themselves as a people with a destiny. The belief God had something special in store for Jews has kept them from despair.
Romans 9:5a The forefathers are theirs, …
The Israelites had an ancestry of which they could be proud. Their heritage was one in which they could rightfully revel. They were especially proud of Abraham, who played a key role in the history of salvation. He transmitted the heritage of righteousness in the midst of a heathen world.
Romans 9:5b …and from them, by physical descent, came the
Messiah,…This was Israel’s crowning glory; Messiah was one of them. The greatest event in human history, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, took place within the family of Israel.
Jesus is by far the greatest person who ever lived, for He was more than man. “By physical descent” means “on His human side”. It implies there was more to Jesus than only flesh and blood. He was truly a man, an Israelite. Paul also emphasized Jesus was truly God. . . .
Romans 9:5c …who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
This is one of the Bible’s clearest declarations regarding the deity of Christ. The word “blessed” is “eulogetos,” from which our word “eulogy” comes. Jesus is God forever eulogized, spoken well of, and praised.
Jesus is God, elevated over all things, including this list of blessings just ascribed to Israel. None of them compares in importance to Jesus.
In fact, they merely point to Him. He became the personification of all these things, the crowning jewel of all these blessings.
Jesus was the Angel with whom Jacob wrestled. Israel was God’s Son by adoption, but Jesus was the Father’s only begotten Son (John 3:16).
Jesus “tabernacled” among us; in Him we see God’s glory (JN 1:14). Jesus is the blessing to the world promised to come through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus’ kingdom is the everlasting dynasty promised to David.
As promised through Jeremiah, a new covenant was established, one ratified by death of Jesus. At the last supper He said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood” (LK 22:20). Jesus came to fulfill the Law (MT 5:17). It could not make sinners righteous, but Jesus can.
The very system used by the Jews in their worship should have given them a clue of the sacrificial nature of the coming Messiah. Jesus is our Passover Lamb and our High Priest.
The coming of Jesus assures us all the other promises of God will be fulfilled. “He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?” (Romans 8:32). “For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him. Therefore, the “Amen” is also spoken through Him by us for God’s glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
Jesus visited Abraham’s tent one day (Gen. 18:1); Jesus halted the sacrificing of Isaac (Gen. 22:11); Jesus spoke to Jacob in a dream (Gen. 31:11); Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah. God Himself walked, talked and performed miracles in Israel. Despite all these blessings, Jews by and large reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They were God’s chosen nation, but by the time Jesus arrived, they had departed from the faith of their fathers.
They had reached a low point in their spirituality. The religious leaders in Jesus’ day were guilty of two things. One, spiritual pride. The Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank You that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11).
Two, religious ignorance. Nicodemus, one of their rulers, could not understand the simplest truths of God (John 3:10). They rejected Jesus, and in doing so, lost their blessing. The same can still be said of all people. The only hope Jews and Gentiles have of any real blessing is found in Jesus.