Today’s reading: Romans 11
The primary message of Romans 11 is God’s gift of grace to all mankind. Last month in my post, An Invitation for All, I talked about God’s plan for salvation. It started with the Jews, then expanded to the Gentiles. Based on our text for today, we could dig deeper into how his plan played out through the Old and New Testament. Instead, I’d like to focus our thoughts on who the plan is about. Did you pick up on it? The plan isn’t about the Jews or the Gentiles, it is about God. Look how Paul describes him in the last four verses of chapter 11.
Oh, 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 that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:33-36).
In verse 33, Paul describes three attributes of God: wisdom, knowledge, and judgment. Dictionary.com defines knowledge as the perception or state of knowing facts or truths. Wisdom, is then about how knowledge is applied – the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. God is perfect. Not only does he know everything, but he also has the ability to perfectly apply knowledge in every situation.
I smiled when I read these definitions. Every weekday when I drive my kids to school, we spend time talking to God on the way. We confess our need for him. We ask him to be by our side as we move through the day’s activities, and we specifically ask for his help to make WISE choices. Wise choices are hard for fourth and seventh grade kids. (They are still hard for their forty-four year old mother, too.) Peer pressure is strong, and they don’t always have the wherewithal to think about the consequences of their choices ahead of time. Our prayer helps remind them relying on God’s knowledge and wisdom can make up for their shortcomings.
Paul goes on to describe God’s judgment as unsearchable and inscrutable. I’ll admit, I had to look these words up to really understand the second half of this verse. It means God’s judgment is unable to be clearly understood. This makes sense. Without his complete knowledge and perfect wisdom, we don’t have the capability to really understand the depth of his plan. At times we are able to connect the dots through study and experience, but generally only after the fact. Seldom are we able to prospectively figure out what God has in store for us and why. I think this is by design. I’m a planner. While I’d love to know every detail of what is to happen (surely I’d make wiser choices if I knew it all), it would lead me to rely on myself rather than rely on God. My human nature wants it, but without God’s perfect knowledge, wisdom and judgment, I know it wouldn’t have a good ending. How do I know? The prophet Isaiah reminds me,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Paul closes the chapter with the following statement to remind us the plan is about God not us – For from him and through him and to him are all things…
- It is all from him – the plan came from God, it wasn’t our idea.
- It is all through him – even if we had the plan, we couldn’t make it happen. We couldn’t free ourselves from the bondage of sin.
- It is all to him – the plan is not for me, it is not for you. We were created to glorify God, and we find our fulfillment in bringing him glory and honor.
…To him be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:36).