Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion if you on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900) and a podcast on the church page at Cove Presbyterian Podbean page.
So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,
”Out of Zion will come the Deliverer;
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”
“And this is my covenant with them,
when I take away their sins.”
As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.
O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
When it comes to how we view the world around us, I think we often misunderstand both the word “God” and the word “plan.” I mean, sometimes it seems as though everything around is chaotic and confused, that nothing has a real purpose or lasting structure and the future is determined by probability and chance. And as we live in the middle of this mess, any kind of plan seems hard to come by. But even if we’re able to decipher a plan, we often assume that it’s actually determined by us, you know, that it conforms to our desires and interests. Of course, we may say that the author is actually divine, but that doesn’t change the fact that in this world view, God is actually a secondary player, supporting what we believe is right and accomplishing what we believe he should do.
But as I said, this distorts both the idea that there’s a plan within creation and that the plan is in God’s hands, a perspective that Paul corrects when he presents to the Romans what he calls a mystery and then explains why Israel rejected Jesus Christ. You see, it was all part of God’s plan to redeem not only the people of the promise but also all humanity. And whether or not we understand it or agree with it or would have done it that particular way ourselves, that’s irrelevant. What’s important is this: “God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.” That’s God’s plan, something that, if we choose to accept it, can change the way we see ourselves and others.