A DIFFICULT VERSE…

ROMANS 11:32-36:  “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever. Amen.”

OBSERVATION:  Have you ever been reading the Bible when you came upon a verse that made you think – “Say, what?”  Romans 11:32 is such a verse.  If read alone it does not seem to make much sense.  “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.”  This almost makes God look like an unmerciful master moving pieces on the chessboard of life – simply at whim.  If this is the case, how do we understand God’s love?  How does it show God’s mercy?

We can gain understanding from the Scriptures, but in its’ entirety we also are brought to the same conclusion as Paul in the end of this chapter – “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”  One thing I have learned as I have studied the Bible, when something appears out of character for a God who is all loving and all merciful, it is not a deficiency on God’s part, it is a limited or lack of understanding on my part.

So, what can this verse be talking about?  It points to the mercy of God and links it to consigning all men to disobedience.  We get some insight when we look at the Greek word translated “consigning” in the ESV, and “concluded” in the KJV.  This word literally means to “shut up” or “enclose”.  It is used in reference to trapping fish in a net.  So how does this apply to God’s mercy?

We see this action of the Lord in two very key sections of Scripture.  The first is when He banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.  God “shut up” the garden and “enclosed” Adam and Eve in the area outside of the garden, so that Adam and Eve would not eat from the Tree of Life and live forever in their sin.  God banished them so that He could show mercy upon them.  God kept them from a sure demise so that He could redeem them through the coming and promised Messiah.

The second example is the Tower of Babel.  Mankind was united with one language.  I also believe that man’s mind was closer to the perfection of creation.  The Lord said,

“….Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.” (‭Genesis‬ ‭11‬:‭6‬ ESV)

When God confused their languages, causing them to scatter and abandon the Tower of Babel, He was not acting out of anger or jealousy – He was showing His love and mercy!  God knew that mankind would only unite their knowledge, tainted by sin, and destroy themselves.  We have seen this tendency over and over again in our lifetime.  This act was once again so that God could have mercy upon mankind.  This act of “shutting up” was so that He could send the coming and promised Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord, to redeem mankind from their sin!

God created man.  Man was created to have fellowship with God.  Man’s destiny always leads to destruction without God.  Man cannot save himself.  Therefore, God has set boundaries around our efforts so that we will not follow our imperfect human efforts to destruction.  God set boundaries around our efforts so that He can show mercy upon us.  There are no programs, no governments, no armies, no educational systems – that will bring peace to mankind!  It is only when man turns to his Creator through the Lord Jesus Christ that he finds peace.  This is the great mercy and kindness of God.  Understanding this brings one to a place of awe and worship.  It is no wonder why Paul breaks out into praise!

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever. Amen.”

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy to follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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