to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
November 13, 2019 – Wednesday
Romans 11:30-32 NIV
30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience,
31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.
32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all.
A quick rewrite so we know who the ‘players’ are in the verses above.
30 Just as you, believing Gentiles, who were at one time, before Christ was preached to you – you did not believe in the living and true God, disobedient to God, because you were buried in ignorance and superstition, have now received mercy, the freedom to be converted and pardoned, as a result of their, the Jewish people’s, disobedience, 31 so they too have now, since the preaching of the gospel, become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy, may be brought to believe in Christ, and so partake of mercy, as a result of God’s mercy to you, the Gentiles. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that He may have mercy on them all. (Note all italicized insertions are from Benson’s Commentary)
Concerning verse 31, Paul does not mean that the Gentiles would not have been admitted into the covenant and church of God, by having the gospel preached to them, if the whole Jewish nation had embraced the gospel, the title of the Gentiles to all the blessings of the covenant with Abraham being established by the covenant itself. (Benson Commentary)
Wondering how this can be one turns to Genesis 12:1-3 where we read
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Notice in the covenant given to Abraham, the Lord declared that through Abraham’s family (i.e., the Jewish people) all families (i.e., the Gentiles) would be blessed. Clearly, the Lord sees other nations as distinct from Abraham’s family because He declares Abraham’s family will become a great nation apart from all other families on earth. So the Lord promised that He would extend the blessing He assigned to the Jewish people into all the world. Gentiles are the not recipients of the covenants but we do have opportunity to participate in them (by faith) and therefore receive the blessings of these promises. Paul describes our relationship to the covenants given to Israel in this way just a few verses earlier in the Romans 11: 17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
Thus disobedience was not required for Gentiles to receive the blessings, but it is how the blessings did arrive to the Gentiles. God does indeed use everything to see His purposes accomplished. And to ensure there would never be any misunderstanding, Jesus told Nicodemus:
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3)
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)