We cannot understand all of what God does and why. This is Paul’s final conclusion at the end of Romans 11 as he finishes reflecting on the problem of the Jewish people’s widespread rejection of Christ. The apostle has been struggling with this issue since the beginning of Romans 9. With a heavy heart, the great missionary to the Gentiles has tried to figure out why so many souls from pagan nations who “were once disobedient to God” have now found God’s mercy through faith in Jesus, while most of Paul’s Jewish countrymen have become “disobedient” and missed out on the Messiah’s salvation (Romans 11:30-31a). Paul believes that one day many Jews will turn to Christ so that God “might have mercy on all” (Romans 11:31b-32), but that day has not yet come. What is one to make out of God’s mysterious plan for salvation history?
We must stop as Paul does in verses 33-36 and simply give God the glory that He is due for His “unsearchable” wisdom and knowledge in all of His “judgments” and “ways” (Romans 11:33). The bottom line is that God is God and we are not. We are finite, fallen creatures, and He is the infinite Creator of all. He is perfectly wise, perfectly powerful, and perfectly good. No human can fully know His mind in all things, nor does God need to seek our advice in rendering His decisions about what He does in people’s salvation or any other matter (Romans 11:34). God does not owe anyone anything (Romans 11:35). Everything in this world was created by God and for His glory, and everything in God’s creation is sustained by His power and grace (Romans 11:36).
When we step back and reflect on God’s majesty through Bible passages like today’s, all of our challenges and objections melt away. We may still have questions and burdens on our hearts about our lost loved ones. And God calls us to keep casting those cares before Him, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). But in pausing to regain our humility as creatures bowing before our Creator, we are reminded to praise God for who He is and thank Him for showing mercy and grace to us when what we really deserved was death and hell. So take some time today to let God be God in your heart and mind, because the truth is that He always has been in reality anyways. Let His sovereignty give you His joy and peace.
The Text (Romans 11:30-36)
30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”
36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Questions to Think About
- Have you been wrestling with some life circumstances that you cannot understand why they are happening? How does today’s passage help you to deal with your troubles and questions?
- Can you think of a time when you suddenly realized that “God is God and you are not”? What happened?
- Have you ever thought you knew exactly what God was doing in your life and why, but then realized you didn’t have things figured out as much as you thought? Explain.