Israel's people have not believed in Christ
1What I am telling you is true. I speak as someone who belongs to Christ. I am not telling lies. God's Holy Spirit rules my thoughts, and they tell me that I am right. 2I tell you this: I am very sad deep inside myself. I am always very upset because of Israel's people. 3I belong to the same family as they do. They are my own people. I really want them to believe in Christ too. If it would help them, I would even ask God to curse me. I would ask him to make me separate from Christ.
4They are Israelite people. God chose them to belong to him as his own children. He showed them that he is very great. He made many agreements with them and he gave his Law to them. He showed them how they should worship him. He promised many good things to them. 5It was their ancestors that God chose to make great many years ago. And Christ himself, as a human person, was born to an Israelite family. Christ is God, who rules over all things. We should praise him for ever! This is true! Amen. #9:5 The ancestors of Israel's people were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. See Genesis 12—49.
6God promised good things to Israel's people. But I am not saying that what God promised did not happen. It is clear that not all of Israel's people are God's true people. 7Not all of them are true descendants of Abraham. God told Abraham, ‘It is only your son Isaac that I will call the father of your descendants.’
8This means that not all of Abraham's children are really God's children. It is only those children who were born as a result of God's promise. Only they are the people that God calls true descendants. 9This is what God promised to Abraham: ‘At this time next year I will come back. Then Sarah, your wife, will have a son.’ #9:9 See Genesis 17:21; 18:10,14.
10Remember this also: Later, Isaac's wife, Rebekah, gave birth to twins. Those 2 sons had the same father, who was our ancestor, Isaac. 11And God spoke to Rebekah before her sons were born. God spoke before the boys had done anything either good or bad. God did this to show clearly that he himself was choosing one child. He was not choosing someone because of what that person had done. He himself decided who he would choose. 12God said to Rebekah, ‘The older son will serve the younger son.’ 13This is written in the Bible: ‘I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.’ #9:13 See Malachi 1:2-3. Later, God gave Jacob the name ‘Israel’. Jacob was the ancestor of the Israelites.
14Because of this, someone might say that God is not fair. No! We should never say that! 15Think about this. God said to Moses, ‘I will be kind to whoever I choose to be kind to. I will feel sorry for whoever I choose to feel sorry for.’ #9:15 See Exodus 33:19. 16So then, it is God who decides these things. It is not because of what people want. It is not because of what people do. It is because God chooses to be kind.
17The Bible tells us what God said to Pharaoh: ‘This is why I caused you to be king of Egypt. My purpose was to show how powerful I am. As a result, people everywhere would know that I am great.’ #9:17 See Exodus 9:16. 18So we see this: God is kind to some people and he forgives them. But he causes some people, like Pharaoh, to turn against him. He chooses what he will do with each person.
God himself decides when he will be angry or kind
19One of you may say to me, ‘God always does what he wants to do. Nobody can change what God makes them do. So, God should not say that people have done wrong things.’ 20But you are only a human person. You have no authority to speak against God like that. God has made you. A pot cannot speak against the person who made it! It cannot ask him, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ 21Somebody who makes pots can choose to make any kind of pot. He can use the same piece of clay to make two different pots. One of the pots may be for special parties. The other pot is for dirty things.
22What does that teach us about God? Some people are like pots that are ready for God to destroy. God is angry with people like that. He is ready to show his power against them. But he has chosen to wait patiently. He keeps his anger for later. 23Other people are like valuable pots that God has chosen to make. God wants to be kind to people like that. He wants to use them to show people how great he is. He has prepared them to be with him for a special party in heaven. 24We are those people! God has chosen us to be his people. It is not only Jews that he has chosen. He has also chosen Gentiles. 25God says this in the book of Hosea:
‘I will say to people who were not my people,
“Now you are my people.”
I will say to people that I did not love,
“I love you.” ’ #9:25 See Hosea 2:23.
26‘God had said to them,
“You are not my people.”
In the same place where he said that,
people will now call them “Children of God, who lives for ever.” ’ #9:26 See Hosea 1:10.
27Also, God's prophet Isaiah spoke this about Israel's people:
‘There are so many of Israel's people, nobody can count them.
They are as many as the bits of sand on the shore of the sea.
But God will save only a few of them.
28The Lord God will finish his work quickly.
He has warned his people what he will do.
And he will punish them completely.’ #9:28 See Isaiah 10:22-23.
29Isaiah had already said this:
‘The Lord of great power has let some of our children live.
If he had not done that, no descendants would remain.
We would have become like the people in Sodom and Gomorrah.’ #9:29 See Isaiah 1:9 and Genesis 19:1-29. Sodom and Gomorrah were small towns. The people who lived there refused to obey God. So God destroyed those towns.
30So, we must think about what all this means. The Gentiles were not trying to become right with God. But some of them have now become right with him. God has accepted them as right, because they have believed in Jesus Christ. 31But Israel's people tried to find a law that would make them right with God. But they failed to become right with God. 32They failed because they refused to believe in Christ. Instead, they were trying to do certain things so that God would accept them. Because of that they fell to the ground. Their feet hit the stone which causes people to fall. 33It says this in the Bible:
‘Look, I am putting a special stone in Zion.
That stone will cause people to fall to the ground.
It is a rock that will make them fall down.
But anyone who believes in him will never be disappointed.’ #9:33 See Isaiah 26:16; 8:14 and 1 Peter 2:6-8. ‘Rock’ is one of God's names for Jesus. He is God's special Messiah. It is difficult for people to believe that God will only accept them if they believe in Jesus Christ. They think that they can do good things and then he will accept them. That is why Jesus is like a rock that causes people to fall to the ground.