It’s the Thought that counts ‘Glimpsing God’s Canvas in Romans’2020
The Following thought for the day was written by Brother Richard Morgan and provides insight and encouragement for those seeking to serve the God of Israel.
Romans chapter 11 finishes Paul’s doctrinal thesis on the topic of theodicy – the vindication of God’s righteousness given the existence of evil. In the last few chapters, Paul will outline practical ways in which the righteousness of God can be manifest in our lives.
He finishes the chapter with an exclamation – “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
We can understand Paul’s sentiment by reading through Romans and seeing him outline God’s purpose. It is based on His astonishing wisdom. The crescendo is here in chapter 11, where Paul comes back to the topic with which he began his epistle; Jews and Gentiles.
Think about how colossal God’s plan is. The story of the Jews goes through Abraham and David, the two main characters of the early chapters in Romans. By the time we come to chapter 11, Paul reminds his readers that the Jews are in dispersion, and the gospel has gone out to the Gentiles. In this chapter, he also tells his readers that God has not cast away His people, and one day they will be grafted back into the olive tree and join with the Gentiles who have been called to God’s purpose.
That’s four thousand years of history, none of which God made up as He went along. Romans 11:2 says, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” When He called Abraham and developed His purpose through him, eventually bringing about the Jewish people, He knew they would fail.
He also separated Jew and Gentile for centuries, letting them develop very different cultures. Then, two thousand years after He called Abraham, God decided to bring the Gentiles into the fold. Except He didn’t decide it then. Almost the very first thing God said to Abraham was, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3) and hidden away, for two thousand years, was what the New Testament calls the Mystery of the Gospel, that the Gentiles would be fellow heirs with the Jews.
God designed it that way for a purpose. In bringing together Jew and Gentile, He taught the immensely important principles of reconciliation and unity in Christ. He knew the first-century ecclesia, and we today, would need that lesson. Two thousand years before it happened.
Now here we are four thousand years after the call of Abraham, fifty-seven lifetimes later if we take the average lifespan of seventy years, on the eve of everything coming together when our Lord returns. It truly is an incredible mind that conceived everything before any of it happened.
I like to think of God’s purpose as a giant canvas that He painted in the beginning. On that canvas, God illustrated everything in human history, even before Abraham, to the dawn of time. At any time, God can step back, survey the whole canvas, and see all things in a moment. We don’t have such an eternal mind, and while we look at the painting, we struggle to step back and take it all in. We see little snippets of it here and there. We wonder what that splodge of paint may mean, trying to place ourselves in the context of God’s eternal purpose. Little by little, we learn to step back and make sense of it all. Paul did that in the book of Romans. Through the inspiration of God, he could see more clearly what He painted on the canvas and gasp at its beauty.
We see some of that beauty in our present mortal lives, and we gasp in admiration too. Often our breath is completely taken away by the wisdom of God. But we can’t see the whole canvas. Not yet. A time is coming, though, when we will see its beauty in all its glory when everything will come together and make sense. And then, with Paul, we’ll be able to exclaim with even greater meaning, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
Simi Hills, CA
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View all the thoughts in this series here…