Imagine for a moment that you are a child up for adoption, living in a local orphanage. One day a family comes into the orphanage and suggests that they want to adopt you. How exciting it would be to finally hear someone say that they WANT you to be a part of their family.
Before the adoption goes final, however, you have a chance to spend some time with your potential new mom and dad. They share a number of very encouraging things with you. They tell you that they will never leave you, that you are a part of their forever family, and that nothing you could do would ever stop them from loving you. You are very encouraged by this interaction.
After talking for a bit, you ask your possible parents about any other children they may have (after all, these would be your new brothers and sisters!) They tell you that they used to have a biological child, but they grew tired of the child’s behavior and kicked the child out of the home at the age of 4. It appears that they are adopting you as a replacement for their firstborn!
As encouraged as you were by learning of their choice of you and the nice words that they said, you suddenly feel terribly uneasy about your new family. If they kicked out their other child, how long until you are shown the door? By watching how the parents treated one branch of their family tree, lets you know how they would treat you.
I walk us through this illustration today as we are on the verge of beginning a new sermon series at Wildwood Community Church called “Family Tree” (kicking off this Sunday, May 29 at 9:30 and 11:00 AM). This series walks us through Romans 9-11 . . . a fascinating section of God’s Word strategically located in the middle of Paul’s great letter to the Roman Christians. In this section, the Apostle Paul is talking about God’s family tree.
In Romans 8, we see that God has chosen to adopt many Gentiles (non-Jewish people) as His children (8:12-17). God tells us that He has chosen us (8:29) and that nothing can separate us from His love (8:31-39.) All this news is quite encouraging, but there is a potential problem. Israel is God’s “first child.” God made promises to His first born (Israel), just as He has made promises to His adopted second child (the church). Yet because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus, it sure seems like God has abandoned Israel, and has adopted the church as a replacement. But if God rejects one half of His family tree over disobedience, how can the rest of us in this family tree ever truly feel secure, knowing how He has treated His first “born.”
Paul writes Romans 9-11 to provide an articulate defense to this accusation. He will do so by talking about election, evangelism, and our secure hope for eternity. Join us this Sunday morning as we begin this series by looking at Romans 9:1-13 together. Hope to see you then!