God's Election of Israel
9 1 At the same time, you need to know that I carry with me at all times a huge sorrow. 2 It's an enormous pain deep within me, and I'm never free of it. I'm not exaggerating - Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses. It's the Israelites . . . 3 If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I'd do it in a minute. They're my family. 4 I grew up with them. They had everything going for them - family, glory, covenants, revelation, worship, promises, 5 to say nothing of being the race that produced the Messiah, the Christ, who is God over everything, always. Oh, yes!
6 Don't suppose for a moment, though, that God's Word has malfunctioned in some way or other. The problem goes back a long way. From the outset, not all Israelites of the flesh were Israelites of the spirit. 7 It wasn't Abraham's sperm that gave identity here, but God's promise. Remember how it was put: "Your family will be defined by Isaac"? 8 That means that Israelite identity was never racially determined by sexual transmission, but it was God-determined by promise. 9 Remember that promise, "When I come back next year at this time, Sarah will have a son"? 10 And that's not the only time. To Rebecca, also, a promise was made that took priority over genetics. When she became pregnant by our one-of-a-kind ancestor, Isaac, 11 and her babies were still innocent in the womb - incapable of good or bad - she received a special assurance from God. What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that his purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don't do, but a sure thing determined by his decision, flowing steadily from his initiative. 12 God told Rebecca, "The firstborn of your twins will take second place." 13 Later that was turned into a stark epigram: "I loved Jacob; I hated Esau."