Children of the Promise

Children of the Promise

Scripture: Romans 9:18
Date: 12/09/2017  Lesson: 10
"How can knowing what God’s character is like help us to stay faithful amid trials that seem so unjustified and so unfair?"

History of Redemption Study Chart by Everlasting Gospel Publishing

History of Redemption Study Chart by Everlasting Gospel Publishing
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Good morning, friends. And welcome to Sabbath School Study Hour coming to you here from the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church. I'd like to welcome our online members and also those joining us across the country and around the world part of our study group here every Sabbath morning. I'd like to welcome the members and the visitors here at Granite Bay, delighted to see you all here again this morning. We've been studying through the Book of Romans for our lesson quarterly, and we're nearing the end of the study.

Today, we're on lesson number 10, which is entitled "Children of the Promise", that deals with Romans, talking a little bit of Romans 8, 9. So lesson number 10 is what we'll be on, Children of the Promise. For those who are joining us online, if you don't have a copy of the lesson quarterly, but you'd like to study along with us, you can go to the Amazing Facts website, just amazingfacts.org. You can download a copy of today's study, that's lesson number 10 and you can study along with us.

We do have the free offer. We'd also like to let you know about, it is a book entitled "Can a Saved Man Choose to Be Lost"? And that is our free offer. To receive that, call us on our resource phone number 866-788-3966. And you can ask for offer number 112. If you're outside of North America, just go to the Amazing Facts website, amazingfacts.org. You can download a copy of the book and you can read it for free online. Well, before we get to our study, we always like to start by lifting our voices in song. I'd like to invite our song leaders to come and join me on stage this morning.

What Child is this, who, laid to rest

On Mary's lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet

While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing

Haste, haste, to bring Him laud

The Babe, the Son of Mary

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian, fear, for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing

Haste, haste, to bring Him laud

The Babe, the Son of Mary

So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh

Come, peasant, king, to own Him

The King of kings salvation brings

Let loving hearts enthrone Him

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing

Haste, haste, to bring Him laud

The Babe, the Son of Mary

Let's bow our heads for a word of prayer. Dear Father in heaven, what a privilege to be able to get in Your house on the Sabbath morning and open up Your Word and study this very important book, The Book of Romans, message of righteousness by faith. Father, we ask for the Holy Spirit to come and draw close to us, got our minds, our hearts as we study the scriptures, for we ask this in Jesus' name, amen. Our lesson this morning, it's gonna be brought to us by Pastor Doug.

Happy Sabbath. I want to welcome those that are here. We know we have some of our folks that are gone because of the oncoming Thanksgiving holiday. And we have some who are here that may be visiting family, and we're just glad for each of you, glad for our extended class that watches around the country, all over the world every week. And we know some of you are also part of the Granite Bay church family via the online members, and we want to welcome you as well.

We are continuing our study in the Book of Romans, one of the great masterpiece explanations of the gospel that you find in scripture. And today we're gonna be dealing with one of the most difficult passages in the Bible. Before I get to the lesson, let me just share with you why this chapter can be so challenging. Within Christianity, there is a great divide. Now I'm not talking about between Seventh-day Adventists and other Protestants or Catholics. Among Protestants, you have two great groups. You've got Calvinists, you've got the free will group. You've got Calvinism, Arminianism, and what... You've heard of the doctrine, "Once saved, always saved and predestination."

A lot of that springs out of this chapter, some things we're gonna be discussing. And so there's other good material in here, but I just want you to know that, even one of the sections in the lessons is titled mysteries, because there are some difficult passages in here. Our memory verse comes to us from Romans 9:18. And it is, it's at the heart and core of what one of these challenges is. Romans 8:19, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to say it along with me. Are you ready? "Therefore has He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and on whom He will He hardens." Now right they're out of the gate, the Lord is saying, "Well, I guess, I'll harden some hearts and I'll have mercy on others." And it almost sounds like God is up there in the sky as an arbitrary Greek god or something that's looking down saying, "What shall I do? Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

I'll save this one, but I think I'm gonna harden her heart, harden his heart." And, you know, someone's got to be the fall guy that will betray Jesus, I'll just call him Judas. And as much as he might want to be saved, I need someone that's gonna be the bad guy in the script, so I'm gonna harden his heart. Or I'm gonna harden pharaoh's heart. Let me see, how shall I do this? I'll save you, but you're gonna be lost, sorry. I'll save you, but I need the lost. I got to teach a lesson, so I need some lost people to help illustrate this lesson. This is what some people see when they read Romans 9. And so with that troubling introduction, let's get into it.

Matter of fact, why don't we start by going to Romans 9, and I'm just gonna read the first few verses. Maybe I'll read verses 1-3, and then we'll discuss some of this, give you a little background about what's happening as we delve in here. Romans 9:1, "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ that my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertains the adoption, the glory of the covenant, giving of the law, and the services of God, and the promises." So Paul is saying... You know, I know it looks like that the promises of God have failed.

I'd be willing to sacrifice my own eternal life that they might be saved, and He's making this great sacrifice. You see, God had said in the Old Testament. You can read this in Exodus 19:6, when he called Israel. He said, I've called you, I want you to be a kingdom of kings and priests. I want you to be a nation of royalty. You know, typically in the ancient kingdoms, they often had, the kings and the priests were the leaders. Some were priest kings, some were king priests. Anyone ever played chess that would be willing to confess it? What's right next to the king and the queen? The bishops, they had the church. But even in the... If you go to the Egyptians thereby Pharaoh were the priests. And they were the ones who were tax free and this is in many religions, even among the Greeks and among the Romans. You had the... It seemed like the religious leaders, the political leaders knew they needed the support of the religious leaders, that's why America was such an unusual experiment.

Here you had a country without a king, and a religion without priests and popes that were running things. And so God wanted them to be a nation of kings and priests, and now he's writing, and they've been conquered by the Romans, they are divided among themselves, you've got the Hellenists, the ones who were following the Greek teaching, and you get the Sadducees, and you get the Pharisees, and then you have the Essenes, and all these different divisions. Then the Christianity came along and it just began to explode. It looked like the whole plan that God had for the Jewish nation had failed, so this is something that Paul is addressing because Paul is saying, no it hasn't failed. When you consider that the gentiles become spiritual Jews, the plan is working better than ever. So with that as a backdrop, but then he says, well, even though all who believe in Christ become spiritual Israel, God still has a plan for the literal Jews.

In fact, Paul says, I'd be willing to sacrifice my eternal life that Israel could be saved. Now, is it normal to want to be saved and not to be lost? But it's almost abnormal to say, I am willing to be lost that others might be saved. Why would you accept Christ? You know, you've heard the expression before I've talked about the WIIFM effect. W-I-I-F-M, "What's In It For Me." And so many people make the decisions based on WIIFM. What's in it for me? Well, you won't go to hell and you will go to heaven, and that's why a lot of people come to the Lord. But when you really become a converted Christian, you stop thinking WIIFM, you start thinking what's in it for God. Will this bring glory to God?

Are there others in the Bible who said, we're willing to have our names stricken from the book of life, but what about your name God? Someone read for me in just a moment Exodus 32:32, you'll have that Hoftis, okay. I'm gonna read Romans... I'm gonna read rather 2 Samuel 24:17. "A plague is going through the land of Israel and David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and he said, 'Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house.'" It's the sign of a good shepherd. Was David willing to lay down his life to save sheep? Doesn't it seem strange that a human would be willing to risk his life for a sheep? And David, he was saying, take it out on me and against my father's house, don't make the people suffer, self-sacrificing. Read for me Exodus 32:32, please?

"And now, if you will forgive their sin, and if not, please, blot me from your scroll that you have written."

Now, who is speaking in this verse? That's Moses, right? And God, the golden calf experience, God said, let me alone... Is it kind of God, it's like God is saying to... Have you ever seen people kind of get in the bar fight? I don't know, don't answer that. You know, and it's like, and one guy is holding back the other guy that's real angering, say, "No, no, no, control yourself. And he say, "No, let me out him, let me out him." And it's like God is almost saying to Moses to stop, stop holding me back, let me go and I'm gonna wipe them out, I'll make a great nation of you, this is what God said. I will destroy them and I'll make a great nation of your offspring, like you'll be the next Abraham.

Well, that might appeal to some of us. And Moses said, "No, Lord, just look what will happen to your reputation. The Egyptians will say their god wasn't big enough to bring them all the way into the Promised Land. And what will happen to Your reputation? What will happen to Your glory, Your honor? And Moses said, "Take my name out of the book." But what will happen to your name? That's real self-sacrificing love. Who else was willing to be stricken from the book of life for the sake of God's people? His name begins with a letter J. Jesus, yeah. When Jesus went to the cross, you know, He was facing the second death. And He said, not my will, thy will be done, Lord, if there is any other way. And at times, the guilt of sin was so terrible that it looked like eternal separation, but that's what real divine love is.

You're willing to say, I will lose everything that others might be saved, that's a mature Christian. It's not what's in it for me, it's you're motivated by love like God. Because you're really, it's almost selfishness when you say, "Sure, I'll accept eternal life in a new body." Who wouldn't want that? But when you're really matured as a Christian, I think I remember reading in the Spirit of Prophecy, and I don't remember the reference. With the computer you can look it up pretty easy. A fear of hell and the desire of heaven might be a suitable starting point for a lot of people. When you're doing evangelism, evangelists might talk about, well, there's a heaven to win, and a hell to shun, that is an appropriate starting point. When you're teaching children, you may use elementary basic things like that. Listen to me, no spanking.

Disobey, spanking, you know. Or you listen to me, you get this treat, this privilege. But as you matured, you want your kids to always be obeying for those reasons. You'll get a cookie if you do your homework. I mean, you want them to eventually think you'll be smarter if you do your homework, you know. And you'll be able to serve God and your fellowman if you're well educated. And so you want them to grow. And Paul, he had that total self-sacrificing attitude. Someone else I thought of in the Bible, there's a lady who said this. How many of you remember Abigail? David was on his way to wipeout the house of Nabal. And Abigail came to intercede, and she says... This is 1 Samuel 25, "She fell at his feet, and she said, "On me, my lord, on me, let this iniquity be." Just so she's stopping David's wrath against the household and saying, take it out on me. And so you see this intercession in a number of God's people in the Bible that were genuinely converted. So next as you read on, you know, they're wondering if God's promises have failed. You read in verse, I will read verse 5 and 6, Romans 9:5 and 6. "Of whom the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternal blessed God. Amen."

Now have you ever wondered is Jesus God? Have you ever run into people that wondered if Jesus is God? Is Jesus the eternal God? What does Paul call Him here? He's not talking about the Father and Jesus as two separate ones, notice. "Christ came who is over all the eternal blessed God." Amen. Is that clear? That Jesus is also the eternal blessed God. And then notice the next verse, verse 6. "But it is not that the word of God has not taken effect." So some are saying, see, God's word failed. He had all these big plans for Israel but it flopped. The prophecies that God made for Israel have flopped. Have you read some of the Old Testament prophecies and have people say, well, this was a prophecy that God made that what He wanted to do with Israel if they had been successful, but those prophecies right now, you just, you can strike them out because Israel failed, they're irrelevant now.

Is there any prophecy like that in the Bible? I don't think so. I think some of the prophecies had maybe a dual meaning that if Israel had been faithful, this is what would have happened, but you read deeper in that very prophecy and it's going to be fulfilled through spiritual Israel. But do any of God's words ever fail? I want to read something to you from Joshua. Joshua 23:14. "Behold..." This is Joshua 23, he's later in the book. He's an older man now. They've conquered, they've entered the Promised Land, they've got their possession. And Joshua says, "Behold, this day I'm going the way of all the earth."

He means, I'm getting old, I'm going that way, I'm dying. "And you know in all of your hearts in the hearts and your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord God spoke concerning you. All has come to pass for you, not one word of them has failed." Now how much of the Word of God and the prophecies of God come true? Jesus said, heaven and earth will pass away. Everything God says in His prophecies will come true, but some of it that they may have thought was going to happen with literal Israel, in fact is happening with spiritual Israel. And so this is a point that is made as we read on here, still going on in Romans. He says here, for they are not... And I'm still reading Romans 9:6, halfway through the verse. "For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham, but, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called.'"

Now here's the point that I know this is deep, I hope you're all still with me. This is the point that Paul is making here. Abraham initially had two sons. What were their names? Ishmael is really the technical firstborn, but he's the son of the flesh. Isaac is the son of the promise through his wife, so he's technically the legitimate son. So when God said to Abraham, I'm gonna multiply your seed and through all, through your seed all the world will be blessed. Which seed was he talking about through which the blessing would come? Ishmael, and the children of east that are known as Islam today, or Isaac?

So God said... Abraham had a lot of children but the blessing wasn't to come through all the children, it was to come specifically through Isaac. Patriarchs were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the Messiah, messianic line came through there. And then he goes on to say so, not every child of Abraham is a child of promise. That's the point he's making. Meaning, even some who are literal physical Jews, they are not the spiritual seed of Abraham. And there are some who may not be physical Jews, but they are the spiritual seed of Abraham. So all the promises that God made to Israel are going to be fulfilled because he says and here several versus I'm gonna give you now. Now this, what I'm getting ready to say, it really aggravate some people. It angers Jews and certain evangelicals because there are a number... Again, I'm prophesying what I'm saying. I told you it was a tough chapter.

There's a number of evangelicals who believe that everyone in the nation of Israel's gonna get converted, and they're gonna rebuild the temple. And that, you know, that's what Shepherd's Rod believed. You got quiet. Shepherd's Rod were a branch that kind of split off from among Seventh-day Adventists back in 1930 something. And when we were back in Washington last week, we were preaching at the General Conference office. And on our last Sabbath, as we drove through the gate, there's all these people protesting our meetings with posters that said all kinds of things, I don't remember all of that they said.

They were there when we did our Prophecy Code in Florida and they were Shepherd's Rod, they are not allowed to come on the ground so they stand at the gate when people are coming in and they hold up their signs and they protest. But they were a group who believed that they were all literally gonna get transported somehow to Israel and the literal kingdom was gonna get rebuilt, and Jesus was gonna literally reign on earth. There are evangelicals who believe that. They think that Jesus reigns on earth during the millennium. Now what I'm gonna share with you aggravates evangelicals and some Jews, because they believe that it's a substitution. In other words that the promises of God are not gonna be fulfilled because the gentiles have been substituted for the Jews. I don't believe that. I believe that God still if they call replacement theology.

You ever heard that before? I believe God still has a special work for the Jews, there's going to be a revival among the Jewish nation. There will be many Jews that will be involved but not all of them, and it will not be a nationalistic revival. There may be Jews in any part of the world. But I think God still has a special plan for them. I'll give you a little amazing trivia. Years ago... I may have told you this once before, I don't remember. Years ago, I was in Toronto during a General Conference meeting. I was walking up the street looking for something to eat, and I ran into Clifford Goldstein now on all the Sabbath school quarterlies, you'll see a couple of names among the editors, one of them is Clifford Goldstein. Another one you'll see is Sharon Thomas Crews.

Our Amazing Facts was founded by Joe Crews. Last week I had the privilege of spending some time with his widow Lu Ann Crews who is 93 years old now and doing fine. And so I ran into Clifford Goldstein, and he said, I'm looking for a place to eat. So we went, we sat down, we ate together. While we're talking, he said, you know, "So where did you grow up?" And I said, "Well, you know, I lived in Miami Beach." He said, "I grew up in Miami Beach." I said, "I live in New York City, I came to Miami Beach and then went to school there for a while." Where'd you go to school? I went to Nautilus. Cliff said, "I went to Nautilus." And it turns out he was a Jewish atheist that went to a school in Miami Beach. I was a Jewish atheist that went to school in Miami Beach. And now he edits the Sabbath school lesson and I teach it. So God still has a work for the Jews, doesn't He? And Sharon Crews edits it, you know, someone from connect with Amazing Facts, so I thought that was kind of cool. But so I do think God has a special work for the Jews, but it's not that the gentiles have replaced the Jews, this is a very important point.

The gentiles are grafted in to the Jewish stock, so all the promises that God made to the gentiles belong to you as well. Let me give you few verses on that. Galatians 3:7, "Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham." Not some of those who are among faith but only those. So if you're a literal Jew and you don't have faith, then you're not a son of Abraham. Didn't Jesus say to some of the Jewish religious leaders, they said, Abraham's our Father. Jesus said, Abraham is not your father. So if you want to argue with Jesus, you take it up with Him. He said, just because you're a physical Jew, does not mean Abraham is your father. Jesus said, you're of your father, the devil 'cause you're trying to kill me.

Abraham didn't do that, Abraham longed for my day. They said, "What do you mean Abraham longed for your day? You're not even 50 years old. What do you mean? You're crazy." And so it's not about being a physical Jew. Does God saved people because He examines their DNA? Says well, wouldn't that be kind of racism if he did it that way? Or does the Bible say, God is made of all nations, one blood. And doesn't the Bible say, whosoever will might come to Him. Even in the Old Testament, in the days of the Jewish dispensation, could you be saved? Could you be grafted in? Uriah was called, Uriah the Hittite. Meaning, he was a Hittite that converted. What about Ruth? When she said to Naomi, your people will be my people, your God are my God. Did she then become a mother in Israel? And Rahab, when she married Salmon, did she become a mother in Israel? Are they ancestors of Jesus? So is it a new thing that a gentile could be grafted into the stock of Israel and be a real child of God? It's not a new thing. And there were a number of literal Jews that turned from God to idols, and the Bible said, God said, I'm turning from you. So God has never saved people based upon looking at their blood. He prophesied that through their blood the Messiah would come, but every individual is saved based upon faith. You're still with me?

Amen.

All right, here are some other words. Romans 9:6, "For not all of Israel are Israel." Romans 2:28, this is a good one. "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly..." When Paul talked about outwardly, he meant, you know, they had been circumcised. "You're not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew, who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter, whose praise is not from men but from God." This is not just a New Testament teaching, this is an Old Testament teaching, way back in the days of Moses.

Moses said to be circumcised in your heart. That means a covenant is a heart covenant. Galatians 3:29, "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." And didn't Jesus and John the Baptist say, many will come from the east and the west, and sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the literal children of the kingdom will be in outer darkness. What's the parable about the rich man and Lazarus? Really has nothing to do with the state of the dead. You know that parable in Luke 16. Got a rich man feasting on this best food, poor beggars at his gate wanting the crumbs that fall from his table. Rich man represented the Jewish nation and those who know the truth and this is the bread of life, they're feasting.

All the gentiles that were lost, they want the crumbs. But in the resurrection, there's a great irony that happens. Lazarus, the gentile, he is an Abraham's bosom, the destination of where the Jews want to go. They want to be with father Abraham. But the rich man, who represents a Jewish nation, he's in Hades, that's the place of pagan torment. You see the paradox of what Jesus is saying here. The rich man who represents the Jews, he ends up in the pagan place of suffering, Hades. And the poor man who represents the gentiles, he's in Abraham's bosom and it's all a parable. But what the Lord is saying is, if they do not believe Moses and the prophets, then it doesn't matter if they're your brethren. They've got to believe. And so it has to do with faith.

Many will come from the east and the west and sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the children of the kingdom, people who would have been naturally the children, they are in outer darkness. Pastor Doug, you're talking about the Jews and their evangelicals now? I'm talking about you and me. Can we say, I go to church, I'm a third generation Seventh-day Adventist Christian. And so God, I get like I'm first in line. You know, God needs to save me. And honestly I've met people before when they find out I'm Christian, they say, "Oh, well, you know, my cousin's a pastor." It's like, you think that's gonna help you at the judgment? You know, haven't you met people? Have you heard these things before? "Oh, yeah, my grandfather, he was a pastor," not gonna help you.

Someone once said, God has no grandchildren. You are adopted as a child. And so Paul is making this very important point here. And then it gets really difficult when we read on. And he says here, I'm gonna read verse 8. That is those who are children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, that's as clear as it can be. But the children of the promise, they are counted the seed. For this time, the word of promise at that time, I will come and Sarah will have a son. In other words, it was Isaac who was a son of promise. And not only this, but when Rebecca had also conceived by one man, even our father Isaac, for the children not being born having done anything good or evil that the purpose of God according to election might stand not of works but of him who calls, it was said of her, the older shall serve the younger. Esau, the older would serve the younger, Jacob.

Now this is where, this is where it starts getting really difficult. The older will serve the younger... Verse 13, "As it is written, 'Jacob, I have loved, and Esau I have hated.'" What in the world does that mean? Someone's gonna look up for me 1 Timothy 2:3-5, I think you can read 3 to 4, actually. Jacob I've loved, Esau I've hated. Let me tell you how some people read that. God being a God of predestination, they say, I don't believe this. He says, well, you know, I want to teach a lesson, and so I know that Rebecca is gonna have twins, I'm just gonna show that, I'm gonna save who I want to save. And instead of it being the oldest will be the firstborn, and he gets all the blessings, I'm gonna give the blessings to the youngest just to mess with him.

I'm gonna give the older one a hard heart, I'm gonna save the younger one, because I just decide, you know, who I want to save and who I want to be lost. Now you just read there in Romans. He said, Jacob I loved, Esau I hated. And it makes it sound like he decided to love Jacob before he was born, and to hate Esau before he was born. Does God hate any baby before it's born, before it does anything?

Listen now, Paul is quoting the Old Testament. You gotta know your Old Testament. Listen to what Paul is quoting. Go to Malachi 1. He says, "I have loved you,' says the Lord. You say, 'In which way have You loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother, says the Lord. Yet Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated, and laid waste his mountains and his heritage for the jackals of the wilderness." Jacob and Esau are referring to the nations of those people. And God loved and hated them because of what they did. And so when he quotes here, Jacob I loved, and Esau I've hated, He's talking about the Edomites and the Israelites. They summarize their names by calling one Jacob and one Esau. He is not saying that I loved the individual Jacob, and I hated the individual Esau. He later hated what Esau did, and you can read about that in Hebrews.

When Esau did not appreciate his birthright, and he wanted... He was so carnal minded, he said, what good is a spiritual birthright, give me beans now, I want beans now. I'm gonna starve to death if I don't have my beans. And so he was carnally minded. Where Jacob said, I want the spiritual blessing. And just to prove that when Jacob came back from wandering in Mesopotamia, he said to Esau here, I'm gonna give you lots of money. He gave him all of these sheep, and goats and camels and servants, he says, it's a gift. I'm not after that blessing, I want the spiritual blessing of our father.

So it was what Jacob did that God loved. When Jacob said, I won't let go unless you bless me, He loved that. When Esau said, you know, I just want the carnal things for right now. Jacob, he went a long way to get a spiritual bride, didn't he? He traveled all the way to Haran. Esau didn't want to make that trip. He married a local pagan girls. And so you just see that there is difference. And so their offspring, He hated the Edomites because they were carnal, He loved the Israelites initially because they were spiritual.

Let me give you another example of that. Why did God pick the Levites to be the priests, and He did not pick from the other 11 or 12 tribes, depends on how you number them. Remember, He divided Jacob's tribe. Why did He pick the Levites? Did God say, well, I've just chosen them spiritually and I'm gonna give them the blessing? Or was there something that happened that made it happen? You remember at the Mount Sinai, the golden calf experience? And Moses said, "Who is on my side? Come to me." And the Levites gathered around other than Aaron, they had not supported the apostasy. And they were chosen. And the Levites strapped on their swords and they went through the camp and they killed the ringleaders of this idolatry that happened.

You remember there's a terrible story. And then after that God says, because of their dedication to the things of God, I am gonna have the Levites be the ones who were the guardians of the truth. There was something they did. Now it also gets difficult, well, let me keep reading here. All right, and then it says, oh, wait, I never had you read your verse. So does God save people, He will love someone and He hates others, or does God want everyone to be saved?

All right, go ahead, please and read for us, 1 Timothy 2:3 and 4. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved..."

Pause right there. God who desires what?

How many men to be saved?

All.

Who wrote Romans?

Paul.

Who wrote 1 Timothy?

Paul.

Paul. He wants everybody to be saved. Now these are some of the scriptures that the Armenians and the predestination people and the once saved, always saved, their law back and forth. Some say, I've elected Jacob, I hated Esau. But then Paul says, He wants all men to be saved. Go ahead, finish reading that verse.

"Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Yeah, and he goes on says, for there is one mediator of knowledge of the truth, one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ who gave Himself a ransom for all. A ransom for how many?

All.

For all. I guess I should have had you read that last verse, I forgot why put it in there. Let me give you another one. Titus 2:11, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to a few people." Hopefully, you're spotting when the pastor changes the verses there. Now I'm gonna tell you when I change it, others will not tell you, so you need to know your Bible. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." Why? 'Cause He wants all men to be saved. John 1:9, "That was the true light that gives light to every man that comes into the world." And then you... The Bible closes that says, whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Whosoever, what's John 3:16? Whosoever believes in Him might not perish, because He wants everyone to be saved. God is love. Can you imagine a father, a loving father saying, well, I need someone to help illustrate a point in the gospel so, I'm sorry, but you're gonna die and then I'm gonna put you in hell. And I'm making, I'm predetermining before you're even born that I'm wiring you, so you cannot be saved. And then I'm gonna put you in hell.

Do you realize, that's what some believe. Doesn't that sort of make God an accomplice to their crime? If God is able to predetermine that He's gonna make somebody love Him, doesn't that cancel out the whole plan of salvation? And you would then say, He must have said, well, I need to teach the universe a lesson, so I'm gonna make Lucifer turn on me. God knew it would happen but He doesn't make it happen, that's a different, He really makes His creatures free. It's a very important point to understand, because you see where this goes. God says, "I am gonna make Judas a liar and a thief." He doesn't have any choice. I am gonna just wire him that way from the factory and so that's how he's gonna live his life because I need to use him. So, you know, what they call that in our criminal system? You're an accessory. You're an accomplice. And if nothing else, if the government set somebody else to commit a crime, if they set them up they call it entrapment.

Isn't that right? And it's considered illegal. You get to hell, terrible philosophical problems if you believe that, but God who wants all men to be saved, He creates everybody with an opportunity to love, to choose. And every man is rewarded according to what? His works. Jesus says that, isn't that right? So if God is gonna reward people according to his works, but if He is pre-deciding what your works gonna be before you're even born, and He is making you do certain works and then He is punishing you for doing bad works, wouldn't that be kind of like, you know, pushing your kid in the cookie jar and then spanking them, for eating cookies? It just wouldn't make sense. So this is why I told you this is a challenging chapter. I need to move on here, some of the mysteries. Isaiah 55:8 and 9, first of all, there are some difficult things, I don't want to pretend there're not. God says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."

So now we're gonna jump into Romans 9:14, "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?" See, Paul is saying, I know what you're thinking. Did God make Esau to be lost? Is there unrighteousness with God? He says, certainly not. How many of you have a King James? I think it says, God forbid there. God forbid, don't even think that. Is there any unrighteousness, we got an accessory. For He said to Moses, I'll have mercy on whomever I'll have mercy, and I'll have compassion on whoever I want compassion. So then it is not him who wills nor of him who runs, but God who shows mercy, and then he gives you an illustration. For the scripture says to the Pharaoh, for this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you and that my need might be declared in all of the earth. So God raised up Pharaoh, and, you know, there's several places where it says God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and He raised up Pharaoh and he said, look, I got to somehow I have to have a bad guy in the script. So that I can show My mighty power, and so I've raised you up and I've hardened your heart. And you don't have any choice, but you're going to be the most stubborn king ever, who ever lived. And you're also gonna be really stupid because plague after plague and you keep doing the same thing. So is that what He's saying.

Therefore, He has mercy on whom He will, and who He will He hardens, and you'll say to me then why does He find fault? Why would God punish if He's making a person that way? For who has resisted his will. But indeed, oh, man, who are you who reply against the will of God? You reply against God. Will the thing formed, that you, the creature, say to Him who formed it, why did you... How dare You make me like this? Does not the potter have power over the clay to make from the same lump, one vessel for honor and another vessel for dishonor. All right, so it says, God hardened Pharaoh's heart, three or four times, you might look it up, but at least three or four times it says, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Someone's going to read for me in Exodus 9:34, and before you do, I'll read some of the others. Exodus 8:15, "But when Pharaoh saw there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them." Now the relief was the mercy of God to forgive the plague. Exodus 8:32, "But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, neither would he let the people go." Go ahead, read Exodus 9:34.

"And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more, and he hardened his heart, he and his servants." So, what do you do when you got what appears to be conflicting verses, one place there God says, I'm gonna harden Pharaoh's heart, and the other place it says, Pharaoh hardened his heart. When the sun shines on wax, it gets soft. When the sun shines on clay, it gets hard. You could say the sun harden the clay, but that same sun shining right next to the clay, softens the wax. The circumstances that God allowed to come, Pharaoh took those things and he hardened his heart.

Let me read something to you from the book, it's actually from a quote from the Review and Herald, February 17, 1891, "We're told that the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, the repeated refusals of the king to hear the Word of the Lord called forth more direct, more urgent, and forcible messages. At each rejection of light, the Lord manifested a more marked display of His power, but the king's abstinence increased with every new evidence of the power and majesty of the divine heaven, until the last arrow of mercy was exhausted from the divine quiver. And then of course, the plague of the Passover came, the firstborn die, including Pharaoh's. He said, mercy was sent, so what's hardening Pharaoh's heart? The mercy of God. And when God said, I am gonna reveal My power in Pharaoh, what did God reveal? His patience, His mercy. And he hardened his heart against the mercy. And here's a quote I want you to get, "The man was utterly hardened by his own persistent resistance."

That's pretty clear. Pharaoh sowed abstinence and he reaped the harvest of the same in his character. The Lord could do nothing more to convince him, for he was barricaded in abstinence and prejudice where the Holy Spirit could not find access to his heart. God kept sending the Spirit to even Pharaoh to reach him, showing His power, showing His patience. And he just folded his arms and he said, "Who is the Lord? Who is the Lord? I'm not gonna listen to God, I'm gonna go to my gods. And so God said, I'm going to allow this circumstance to be a lesson for Israel.

See, God takes things that are bad that the devil does, and He works them for good. And so the hardness of Pharaoh, Pharaoh hardened his own heart, ended up being a demonstration of God's power and His goodness. Yes, God raised up Pharaoh, God raised him up with a free will. God knew what he would do, and he said it will be an opportunity to teach a lesson but he didn't pre-program and make Pharaoh be stubborn and lost.

See, what I'm saying? So that's very important I think. And let me give you one more verse, 1 Samuel 6:6, now this is way up in Samuel's, not in Exodus any more. 1 Samuel 6:6, Samuel said, "Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When he did mighty things among them, they did not let the people go that they might depart." So that I think is pretty clear. And I'm moving on here in Romans, he talks about, we talked about Pharaoh that his name might be revealed in him, the potter has power over the clay.

Let me see here, and then he says, "And that he might make known the riches of His glory, so why does he allow this to happen that he might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy which he prepared beforehand for glory, even to those who he called not of the Jews only, but also the gentiles." So this is the point he just keeps trying to bring back, it's not just Jews but the gentiles also. As he says in Hosea, "I will call them my people who are not my people, and her beloved who is not beloved, and it will come to pass in the place where I said to them, you are not my people, there they will be called the Sons of the Living God, places that were formally pagan are now being called Sons of the Living God."

Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel. Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea the remnant will be saved, for he will finish the work and cut it short and righteousness. Who? What qualifies you to be a remnant? The ones who believe, it's by faith. When you get through Revelation and you find out about the remnant, Revelation 14. Here are those that keep the commandments of God and have the... Not the testimony, the faith of Jesus.

There it says, here are those that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. The remnant is composed of people who are saved by faith. They keep the commandments because they have the faith of Jesus. They don't keep the commandments to be saved, is that right? So Paul is saying through history, God has saved a remnant who had faith. Abraham had faith, Isaac had faith, Jacob had faith. But not every Israelite is going to be saved, is that clear? There were some who had faith and it highlights many of them through history, read Hebrews 11, it talks about the heroes of faith. But you know among the heroes of faith, they're not all Jews. Doesn't he also talk about Noah built an ark by faith, he wasn't a Jew.

Rahab had faith. She was not an Israelite. And so Paul is making the point that those who believe, they're the ones who are saved by faith. And reading on here, Romans 9:29. "And as Isaiah said before, unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed." Sabaoth there it doesn't mean Sabbath, it means a lord of hosts or armies. "Had left us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, it would have been like Gomorrah." It's the remnant that God ultimately saves. And God saved the remnant out of Sodom and Gomorrah, that was Lot and his daughters.

What shall we say then, that the gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith? But Israel pursuing the law of righteousness has not attained to righteousness, the law of righteousness why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at the stumbling stone, "As it is written, 'Behold I lay in Zion, the stumbling stone, and the rock of offense, and whoever believes on him will not be put to shame.'" And here it's talking about that rock of stumbling. Someone's going to read for me Psalm 118:22.

"The stone which the builders rejected has become the Chief Cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes."

And here he's referring back to a story when they were building the Solomon's temple and all the stones were prepared at a separate quarry, they brought them to place, they sent up the cornerstone early on but it was an odd looking stone because part of it rested on the bedrock, and it had been cut and sloped, and it was a corner, and it was right in the middle of the work site, and they kept bumping into it, and tripping on it and scuffling their toes on it, and hitting their heads on it. And they got upset, and they rolled it down into the Kidron Valley, then when it came time to build the temple, they start actually assembling the masonry, they said, where is the cornerstone, they sent back a text to the quarrian.

They said, "Where is that cornerstone?" They said, "We sent that a long time ago." Oh, that's that stumbling stone that was right in the middle that we were cursing. And it's the foundation of the whole temple, we had no idea. You find that referred to many times through the New and the Old Testament. And then finally in the New Testament they say, "That was Christ." When the Messiah finally came, they didn't know, and they rejected Him, and they cast Him out of the city. And He ended up being the foundation for everything.

That's why you read in Ephesians 2, "Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners..." Gentiles you're not far off. "But you are fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God having been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in which the whole building fitly frames together." Anyway I can see we've run out of time. I want to remind our friends, I know we talked about some difficult things dealing with predestination and the sovereignty of God.

We have a free offer, it's number 112, it's called, "Can a Saved Man Choose to Be Lost"? We'll send it to you for simply asking, we do ask you read it, and you'll be blessed, and then share with a friend. Here's a number 866-788-3966. That adds up to 866-Study-More and we'll send it to you free, please do so. And thank you, friends, for joining us, God willing will study His word together again next week.

Have you ever heard a mouse howl like a wolf? Well, what would you expect would happen when a creature changes its destiny from the hapless prey to mighty predator? From the outside they look very much like just an oversized field mouse, cute brown fur, white on the underbelly, nice little beady eyes, but that's where the similarities stop. Grasshopper mice are very unusual making them the objects of great interest for animal researchers.

These furry little creatures are found in the harsh deserts of North America. They're very territorial in nature. And they will monopolize and fend off 25 acres. They don't build their own homes but sort of confiscate the burrows and the homes of other creatures. They're not called grasshopper mice 'cause they hop around. But it's because they eat a lot of grasshoppers. In fact scientists have discovered grasshopper mice are the only mice that are purely carnivorous. They hunt much like cats or weasels, stalking their prey in a predatory fashion, and when they pounce, they are ferocious.

Sometimes even taking on snakes, and scorpions, and centipedes. When a grasshopper mouse gets into a fierce battle with a snake, or a scorpion, or centipede, they may be bit or stung several times. But what is amazing to researchers is they've noticed when they are bitten, they somehow shake it off because they convert the toxin and the venom to pain killer. I think you can understand why this information would be of special interest to scientists that are trying to discover new ways for people to deal with chronic pain. One of the most intriguing characteristics of these little creatures is when they're defending their territory or celebrating a victory over some adversary, they'll throw back their head and let out this earthshaking howl.

It's a mousy howl. Check it out. The grasshopper mouse is not the only member of creation that can survive encounters with venomous predators. In Luke 10:19 it says, "Behold, I will give you authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: nothing will by any means hurt you." We don't have to be the biggest and the strongest to defeat our enemy and led out that victory roar. When God called David to be king, no human would have guessed that he had it in him.

He was young and insignificant, from the outside he looked like there was no greatness in him. But when God looked at his heart, He saw courage, humility, compassion, and love. David wasn't perfect and he made mistakes but through God's power he was able to conquer giants. Friend, God does not intend that you live out the rest of your life cowering and trembling like a little field mouse. If God can take the grasshopper mouse and give him courage so that he fights snakes, and scorpions, and centipedes. If God can put in the heart of David the courage to fight giants like Goliath, then He can give you that same courage. The scripture say, God has not given you the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. And you can have that peace in your heart when you invite the Prince of Peace in your heart. Why don't you do that right now?

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