Today we’re wrapping up the study on how the Church relates to national Israel, sort of. Quite frankly, yesterday I said all I mean to say directly on the subject, at least for now. But since Paul’s great discourse on this sensitive topic (Romans chapters 9-11) ends with this passage, I’m going to use that as an excuse to look at these verses.
You see, these verses don’t just wrap up his discussion on God’s plan for the Jews. They wrap up everything that precedes the passage. If you’re familiar with the book of Romans, you might know that the first eleven chapters are mostly theological in nature. Chapters 12-16 get intensely practical, following Paul’s classic pattern of thinking: X is true, therefore the Christian ought to do Y.
Chapters 1-11 deal with God’s plan of salvation for the world. To put it briefly, he explains our problem (1-3), God’s solution (4), our proper response (6-7), and some ramifications of all this (8).
At the end of all this theological discussion, he ends on what’s commonly called his doxology, or hymn of praise. This is an outburst of praise for the Being who put all this together and has carried it out. It’s as if he’s saying “OK, I’ll get to how you’re supposed to live in a minute. But before we do, we need to bask just for a moment in the God who did all this.”
Let me make just a quick point before we get into the actual passage. Good theology ought to produce praise. Yes, it undergirds our lifestyle, but before it does that, it should generate hearts full of praise, people who just can’t contain themselves. If you’re listening to someone talk theology and you’re bored, then something’s incredibly wrong with either you or the teacher.
So what does these verses tell us about him? Well, instead of using poetic questions, I’m going to just state some things.
• We should meditate on both the knowledge and wisdom of God. Both were necessary to bring about our salvation. He had to have omniscience in order to know all the different factors that went into play, and wisdom to put all the pieces together in perfect lockstep. Everything from earthly kings and spiritual forces (good and bad) down to little molecules had to be dancing to his tune down to the last step in order for this to work.
• His judgments are unsearchable, his paths beyond tracing out. What does this mean? Well, think about this. People often complain about God’s providence: “Why did he allow this to happen?” If the Almighty actually sat down with that person and set out to explain why X happened, before that he would have to explain why W, which was the event that led to X. Then he would have to go into why event V occurred. And of course I’m vastly simplifying things for this complainer: One event is not the result of A, but the result of A, B, F, G, H, I, Q, and countless other factors happening. Are you starting to see why he doesn’t take the time to explain things to us? He’d never get anything else done!
Simply put, we’re never going to figure out what he’s doing. We might get little glimpses of his workings years after it comes about. As the old saying goes, however, “If I could understand him, I'd be him.”
• No one knows what he’s thinking, and he doesn’t need advice from anyone. No, he really doesn’t. Guys, you think figuring out how a woman thinks is tough? And let me tell you, if the Almighty actually showed up and said “Keith, I really need to bounce some ideas off you for your approval,” you might as well pack it in at that point. Humanity is doomed.
• I guess I really need to say this, since a lot of people seem to be confused on this point: God doesn’t owe you anything. You owe him everything. If the Lord allowed Satan to do to me what he did to Job, he wouldn't be taking anything from me that wasn’t already his. Remember, that was Job’s attitude: God gave all this to me, so it’s his prerogative to take it all back. If Jesus called upon me to sell all my possessions and give it to the poor, he wouldn’t be demanding anything outside his rights.
• All things are from him. All things are through him. All things are for him. You know what I think of when I read this one verse? Everything revolves around the Lord. He’s the center of it all. He created everything from the smallest atom to the largest supernova. And everything passes by under his watchful care. And everything is for his glory, for his renown, for the worship of him.
I’m sorry I couldn’t come up with a better title for this blog entry, but I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate. Could you?
Father God, truly you are the center of everything. I want my entire being, everything I am, to please you and honor you and thank you and worship you and glorify you. Please.