Our Unfathomable, Yet Reliable God.
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! – Romans 11:33 NLT
Who are we to question the ways of God? I find it fascinating how often we, as mere men, want to take on God, putting Him on trial – trying to determine whether we agree with or approve of His ways. We debate whether God could or would do something. We argue over whether God has the right to act in a certain way, because it offends our sensibilities or our understanding of right and wrong. But when we doubt God or try to judge Him based on our limited human understanding, we reveal just how little we really know Him. It shows how we have tried to put God in a box in an effort to make Him more comprehensible and believable. But Paul would argue that His God is greater than our capacity to understand. “How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!” (Romans 11:33b NLT). Paul knew enough about God to know better than to try and explain away His actions or question His logic. God does not have to answer to us or even explain Himself to us.
As Paul wraps up his discussion regarding God’s plans for the people of Israel, he wants his readers to understand that God is not obligated to do things in a way that we can understand. He does not have to appeal to our sense of fairness. God is holy, righteous, and completely sovereign. He can and will do what He wants to do, and whatever He does is always right. His treatment of the people of Israel, while it may appear harsh in our eyes, is completely just and wholly necessary. God had a plan in place that included their rejection of His own Son as their Messiah. He was not caught off guard or surprised by their actions. He knew they would refuse to accept Him as the Anointed One. God was prepared for their actions and had planned for them in advance. It was all part of His divine will. Their rejection opened up the door for the spread of the Gospel to the Gentiles. But God is not done with the people of Israel. There is a day coming when “the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ” (Romans 11:25b NLT). In other words, there is an apparent limit on the number of people who will accept Christ as their personal Savior. Not ALL will be saved. And only God knows that number. That may sound unfair and capricious to us, but again, who are we to question the justice of God? When that full number is reached, then God will turn His attention back to the people of Israel. He will once again show His favor on them, sending His Son a second time, to restore a large number of the nation of Israel back to a right relationship with Him. “The one who rescues will come from Jerusalem, and he will turn Israel away from ungodliness. And this is my covenant with them, that I will take away their sins” (Romans 11:26-27 NLT). At the second coming of Jesus, God will do what the Israelites could have never have done for themselves – He will change their hardened hearts and give them the capacity to believe in His Son as their Messiah and Savior. Why? Because God is a covenant keeping God. “Yet they are still the people he loves because he chose their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn” (Romans 11:28-29 NLT).
We may not understand it or even agree with it, but God’s plan is just, righteous, and completely perfect. God does not need or want our advice. He does not require our approval. He does not owe us an explanation. We can’t even fully understand why He chose to save us. But we are grateful that He did. Paul would encourage us to rest in the knowledge of God’s unchanging, holy and righteous character. He can be trusted. He always does what is right. “For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever!” (Romans 11:36 NLT).
Father, I don’t understand Your ways, but I am learning to trust them more and more with each passing day. I can’t fully explain how and why You do things the way You do, but I am trying to rest more and more in Your faithfulness. There are things that happen in my life every day that cause me to doubt and question Your ways, but I am learning to rest in Your sovereign, loving, all-knowing plan for me. You know what is best, whether it looks like it or feels like it at the time. I can trust You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men