When Romans 9 opens up, Paul — the same one who told the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) — admits that his sorrow and anguish is unceasing (Romans 9:2). Why? His people, the Jews, are cut off from their Messiah (Romans 9:3). What then has come of the promises that God gave to Israel? Adoption? His covenant? Has the word of God failed?
Paul is not grieved because God failed his people — “it is not as though the word of God has failed” (Romans 9:6). This is the thesis of Romans 9–11. It was never the case that God’s people were simply those descended from Abraham in the flesh. Even when it means we must accept hard truths, as Paul did, we will come to realize that the greatest comfort in the world is that God is good and that he never breaks his promises.
Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach people to read the Bible for themselves. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher.
As part of this initiative, Desiring God is putting on regional events focused on certain passages of Scripture. This is Part 5 in a series on Romans 9 called “The Word of God Has Not Failed.”