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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 9 - Verse 33
Behold I lay in Sion. Mount Zion was the hill or eminence in Jerusalem, over against Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built. On this was the palace of David, and this was the residence of the court, 1 Ch 11:5-8. Hence the whole city was often called by that name, Ps 48:12; 69:35; 87:2.
Isa 59:20; etc. In this place it means the church. God will place or establish in the midst of that church.
This is, by Paul, referred to the Messiah. He is called rock of stumbling, not because it was the design of sending him that men should fall, but because such would be the result. The application of the term rock to the Messiah is derived from the custom of building, as he is the cornerstone or the immovable foundation on which the church is to be built. It is not on human merits, but by the righteousness of the Saviour, that the church is to be reared. See 1 Pe 2:6, "I lay in Sion a chief corner-stone." Ps 118:22, "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head stone of the corner." Eph 2:20, "Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." This rock, designed as a corner-stone to the church, became, by the wickedness of the Jews, the block over which they fall into ruin, 1 Pe 2:8.
Shall not be ashamed. This is taken substantially from the Septuagint translation of Isa 28:16, though with some variation. The Hebrew is, "shall not make haste," as it is in our English version. This is the literal meaning of the Hebrew word; but it means also to be afraid, as one who makes haste often is; to be agitated with fear or fright; and hence it has a signification nearly similar to that of shame. It expresses the substance of the same thing, Viz., failure of obtaining expected success and happiness. The meaning here is, that the man who believes shall not be agitated, or thrown into commotion, by fear of want of success; shall not be disappointed in his hopes; and: of course, he shall never be ashamed that he became a Christian. They who do not believe in Christ shall be agitated, fall, and sink into eternal shame and contempt, Da 12:2. They who do believe shall be confident; shall not be deceived, but shall obtain the object of their desires. It is clear that Paul regarded the passage in Isaiah as referring to the Messiah. The same also is the case with the other sacred writers who have quoted it, 1 Pe 2:5-8. See also Mt 21:42; Lu 20:17,18; 2:34.
The ancient Targum of Jonathan translates the passage, Isa 28:16, "Lo, I will place in Zion a king, a king strong, mighty, and terrible;" referring doubtless to the Messiah. Other Jewish writings also show that this interpretation was formerly given by the Jews to the passage in Isaiah.
In View of this argument of the apostle we may remark,
(1.) that God is a Sovereign, and has a right to dispose of men as he pleases.
(2) The doctrine of election was manifest in the case of the Jews as an established principle of the Divine government, and is therefore true,
(3.) It argues great want of proper feeling to be opposed to this doctrine. It is saying, in other words, that we have not confidence in God; or that we do not believe that he is qualified to direct the affairs of his own universe as well as we.
(4.) The doctrine of election is a doctrine which is not arbitrary; but which will yet be seen to be wise, just, and good. It is the source of all the blessings that any mortals enjoy; and, in the case before us, it can be seen to be benevolent as well as just. It is better that God should cast off a part of the small nation of the Jews, and extend these blessings to the Gentiles, than that they should always have been confined to Jews. The world is better for it, and more good has come out of it.
(5.) The fact, that the gospel has been extended to all nations, is proof that it is from heaven. To a Jew there was no motive to attempt to break down all the existing institutions of his nation, and make the blessings of religion common to all nations, unless he knew that the gospel system was true. Yet the apostles were Jews; educated with all the prejudices of the Jewish people.
(6.) The interests of Christians are safe. They shall not be ashamed or disappointed, God will keep them, and bring them to his kingdom.
(7.) Men still are offended at the cross of Christ. They contemn and despise him. He is to them as a root out of dry ground, and they reject him, and fall into ruin. This is the cause why sinners perish; and this only. Thus as the ancient Jews brought ruin on themselves and their country, so do sinners bring condemnation and woe on their souls. And as the ancient despisers and crucifiers of the Lord Jesus perished, so will all those who work iniquity and despise him now.
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