Me: Raine, write your spelling words 3 times each.
Raine: But it’s easier if I just write them once.
Me: Raine, write your spelling words 3 times each.
Raine: But it’s easier if I just write them once.
Have you ever been confronted with the doctrine of election? Did it make you squirm? Well, I have; and it did me.
Romans 9 is the primary passage where Calvinists derive their doctrine. Ephesians 2 is another, yet my focus will be on the former. If you aren’t familiar with it, here it is. Otherwise, scroll on down.
But it is not as though the word of god has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls – she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this purpose I raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this? Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory – even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people.’ And her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called the ‘sons of the living God.’”
For 3 years or so, I was under the impression that Paul was saying God had chosen who would have eternal life and who would be sent to Hell. I did not know what else that passage could mean. I did not like it, but I could not pick and choose to accept only certain parts of the Bible. However, as I have read more of the Bible and have studied more of the Old Testament, I have discovered another interpretation.
The rest of this “article,” if you will, will be in somewhat of note form. There is no point in me attempting to write well-thought out paragraphs while jumping from passage to passage. I will simply show you text from the Bible and talk about it.
We will begin with the Hebrews in Egypt. Jacob blesses his sons along with his son’s (Joseph) sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob gives the firstborn blessing to Ephraim, who is second-born, by placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head.
Genesis 48:17-19: When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.”
Now we will fast forward through time, with a brief overview.
The Hebrews become slaves in Egypt. They eventually make it out. The law is given. They make it to the Promised Land. Then, they want a king. They get Saul, David, then Solomon. Solomon builds the Temple and later turns from God.
I Kings 11:9-13 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods, But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.”
I Kings 11:26 “Jeroboam the son of Nebat, an Ephraimite of Zeredah, a servant of Solomon….” Verse 31, “And [Ahijah] laid hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, ‘Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes…”
I Kings 11:45, “Solomon sought therefore to kill Jeroboam. But Jeroboam arose and fled into Egypt, to Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.”
Note: Jeroboam flees to Egypt, then when Solomon dies, Rehoboam, his son, becomes king. The 10 northern tribes rebel against Rehoboam and want Jeroboam as their king. Those 10 tribes are, Reuben, Simeon, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim and Manasseh. Judah and Benjamin collectively become known as Judah and remain under Rehoboam’s rule.
Now we will move on to the prophet Hosea.
God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute and to have children with her. God also tells Hosea the names to give the children. This is a parallel to Israel and Judah. In chapter 1 beginning in verse 6, it says, “… Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah…” Sound familiar? Look back to Romans 9:18, “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” Move on to verse 21, “Has not the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”
I believe that the “one lump” is the children of Israel as a whole. The two vessels are the Northern and Southern Kingdom. Israel (Northern Kingdom) is the vessel of dishonorable use and Judah is the vessel of honorable use. Verse 22 continues…
“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory – even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”
God has endured with much patience, Israel, to make the riches of his glory known to the vessels of mercy (Judah). This is not about individuals going to Heaven or Hell, but about a certain group of people God has chosen to be a light to the world. He chose Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over his brothers, Ephraim over Manasseh and then Judah over Israel.
In Jeremiah chapters 27 and 28 there are also lots of metaphors using the term, vessels. 28:4, “I will also bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon…” On to verse 6, “… and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the LORD, and all the exiles.” Here, God is saying he will bring back the exiles of Judah, or have mercy on them.
Now, what about Israel? Will he just continue to pour out his wrath on them? No. He is not finished with Israel.
Jeremiah 30:24-31:1, “The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intentions of his mind In the latter days you will understand this. ‘At that time, declares the LORD, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.’”
Jeremiah 31:9-10, “…for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’”
Romans 9:25, “As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved,’ And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
Hosea 2:23, “…and I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people,’ and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”
Please know that I do not claim to be an expert on this. I am open to correction. I am still studying and learning and will be doing so until the day I die. Let me just say, now that I understand the two divided kingdoms, the Old Testament prophets make much more sense. I have been reading through Isaiah and oh, I am so excited at what the LORD is going to do for the Northern Kingdom of Israel!
I know I haven’t blogged in a while. That’s probably because I have a new hobby… soap making. Check out my site on http://www.etsy.com/shop/HavenBathandBody. I am still deciding on how I want to design my packaging, so if you check back in a few days, it may have changed. ; )
Due to my soap making and heavy Bible studying, I will probably not keep up this blog. I do plan on sharing with you all what I have learned about Israel, Judah and the doctrine of election (gasp!). It’s not what you think!
We officially started second grade today. Since we will hopefully be bringing home our daughter from Ethiopia early this fall, we are getting a few months of school under our belt. We don’t want to risk getting to the end of the year and not having enough days. I have decided to ditch Singapore Math. I will be going back to Horizons at some point. Right now we are working on drilling our addition facts. I really wanted to use Singapore because it supposed to be really good at teaching mental math. However, there are some strategies that I don’t even get. I’m afraid if I simply bypass those strategies, it will hurt later on down the road. If anyone has experience with Singapore, I welcome your thoughts.
First of all, if anyone knows how to use Google AdSense with WordPress, please let me know. As you can probably tell, I cannot get it to work properly, thus the “The Webpage cannot be displayed,” shown at various places.
Second of all, the following blog post is by no means a complete nor coherent writing of all that I am thinking right now. I want to get some of my thoughts “out there” as they come rather than trying to write a super-awesome, super-long article regarding my Bible studies.
Now, on with the post.
Raine’s current Bible verse for AWANA is Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Do not fear nor be dismayed.”
We all like that verse, right? I do. But why is it when I ask about certain other verses found in Deuteronomy or Leviticus I get the following answer, “That was intended for the nation of Israel.”
Why is Deuteronomy 31:8 for us when Deuteronomy 11:1 isn’t? “You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.”
What about Leviticus 23:2 which says “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.”?
Then in verse 21 the Bible reads, “It is a statute FOREVER in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.” Emphasis mine.
Why do we take certain verses from the Old Testament, memorize them, cuddle them, love them, then take other verses and practically throw them out? Why do we say the Torah is not for us, yet say we are grafted into the nation of Israel? Why do we make Paul out to be a lawless liberal when he himself said he did not preach against the law (See Acts 23-24)? Why do we tell our children that Abraham is our forefather, yet we excuse ourselves from the active faith that he exercised?
I know the Bible does not contradict itself. Understand that I know we are not saved by works. But also understand that faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
Raine’s spelling words last week included multi-syllable words such as tidbit, pencil, rabbit, tablet and cabinet. It took her a few days to master some, one in particular was pencil. She got a little upset that she was having trouble. That’s just like her, though. She doesn’t understand that school is about LEARNING. She apparently thinks she’s already supposed to know everything we go over.
I asked her, “Am I having you practice writing the word, “cat”?
“No,” she says with a smile.
“Of course not – because you already know how to spell it. If you already knew how to spell pencil, we wouldn’t be practicing it. School is about learning. If you already knew everything, we wouldn’t have to do school.”
I have a feeling I will be reminding her of this many many more times in the future.