When God originally chose a people to be his own special people He made a distinction and selected the people of Israel. He took these people as His own and He blessed them mightily so that they had a standard of living that was far greater than any of the other nations.
But they rebelled and turned away from God. They chose idol worship in the days of Moses and at other times,mand in the time of Jesus they were hypocrites who thought they could achieve righteousness through works of the law.
God called them a stiff-necked people who would not bow to Him and He said they were hard of heart, not able or prepared to learn the ways of God. They were proud and arrogant and did not understand that it was in returning and rest and through humility that God can be found.
So God rejected them, although not entirely, and opened His arms to ALL the peoples of the world. Jews and Gentiles had an equal footing in His sight and all could come to Him and be saved under the teachings of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant for this was His promise, made even before the Jews were born and before Isaac and Jacob were born from whom the whole nation of Israel were to come.
God's promise to all people that they could receive righteousness by faith came with Abraham and these few scriptures in Romans 4 show us how God set these things in place.
Righteousness By Faith
In my last post I covered a number of the key aspects about righteousness by faith and I will not go over those in any detail here again.
This is one of the very first of the free gifts of God given to those who come to Jesus Christ. It is offered to every person as soon as they receive Jesus Christ by faith and are baptised, as Jesus instructed His disciples to do in the great commission.
But what is interesting in this section of Romans 4 that Paul identifies is the timing of when this promise was made to all mankind. It shows the perfect timing of God so that this offer would be made to all people and not just a chosen few.
God declared Abraham righteous by faith because Abraham believed what God told him.
Abraham was told that he would have a son by his wife Sarah and through him Abraham would become the father of many nations.
Now we must understand that at the time Abraham was about ninety year old and Sarah was about eighty years old. In addition Sarah was barren and had never been able to conceive children and just to top it off, she had already gone through menopause and so pregnancy was a double impossibility.
But when God told Abraham that he would have a son by Sarah, Abraham believed God because he knew without a shadow of a doubt that God can do anything.
We need to remember that sometimes when we doubt. It's a good lesson for us all,because there is nothing outside the capability of,God…even threading a camel through the eye of a needle.
So as soon as Abraham believed God that he would be the father of many nations and that the impossible would occur (Sarah would conceive), then God declared Abraham righteous.
But there is another timing aspect to this promise.
It was not until many years later after Isaac was born that god instructed Abraham to circumcise all of his people as the outward sign of God's covenant with Abraham. The practice of circumcision became a requirement under the law of Moses much later requiring that all the male children of Israel were to be circumcised on the eighth day after they were born.
But at the time God made the promise to Abraham and the gift of righteousness by faith was given, circumcision was still many years away. Circumcision became the sign and seal of the faith that Abraham had before God while he was still uncircumcised. That is, Abraham had faith and the righteousness that God gave him through his faith, long before the commandment to circumcise came about.
And as Paul shows us, the reason God chose to proclaim Abraham righteous before he was circumcised was so that the promise of the free gift of righteousness would be available to all peoples, both the circumcised and the uncircumcised.
Abraham was to be the father of two sets of people. Firstly, those who were directly descended from him and were circumcised and secondly, those who were to be his children because they held the same faith that Abraham held. They were children of his faith and the righteousness he received by faith from God.
The purpose of this is so that every person had the ability to stand righteous before God and to be part of His people throug faith. And because Abraham was the father of righteousness by faith, the. Those who were declared righteous by faith became Abrahams children also, not because of bodily descent, but because of the faith they had in God.
Thus the path was opened for all people after Jesus came and died for mankind. Everyone now has the offer of the free gift of righteousness by faith just as Abraham was declared righteous by God. And so too every person can gain entry into the kingdom of God through faith in Jesus Christ and become a child of the REAL Israel, which is based upon faith in God and not who you are descended from in the flesh.
As Jesus said in John 6:63,
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
It is the children of Abraham through the spirit that will inherit the kingdom of God, not just those who are physically descended from him. And the bible concurs with this when it says that there will only be a remnant of Israel saved but that all of Israel will be completed when the Gentiles who come to God through faith are included.
His promise of salvation is to all of mankind, and we are glad that He has opened the way for us. Let us not fail to take advantage of His great promise but seek Him out so that we may be part of this great salvation.
(Image sourced from stock.xchng taken by Christine Morgan)
You might also like:
Doing The Will Of The Father
Holy Spirit Convicts
Baptising The Ethiopian
Keeping The Law Of Moses
The Promise To Jesus Followers
Labourers In The Vineyard
Jesus Feeds The Five Thousand
I Am The Good Shepherd
The Promise Of The Holy Spirit
Promise Of Salvation
Unlocking The Promises Of God To The Gentiles