Romans 11 Lesson

Curiosity And Obedience

CURIOSITY

As humans, we spend a lot of time thinking about why things happen. It begins during our childhood, and it continues right on through to adulthood. Being curious is natural.  Curiosity helps us to grow intellectually and to figure things out.  Throughout our lives, most of us will continue to ask ourselves, “Why did this happen?”

But should we? Is it important to know why things happen? Not when it comes to the Bible. The answer to the question of why things happen as they do in the Bible is, “Because God said so.” That should be the beginning and the end to any discussion about why things happen the way they do in the Bible.

When it comes to our faith, we should not be concerned with the “why” as much as the “what.”  God’s ways are superior to ours in every way.  We cannot possibly understand why He does the things that He does, nor is it our place to know.  The mysteries of the universe are for God to know, not us. Consider the following scripture from the Book of Isaiah:

  • “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9.

God does not need us to understand His ways.  If it were important for us to know why He did what He did, He would have told us.  One example where God tells us why He did what He did is found in the Gospel of John:

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16.

In this example, God tells us why He sent His son. Because of His love for us.John 3:16 is the exception and not the rule. Often, we must accept God’s will simply because He is God. He is God and we serve Him, not the other way around.

OBEDIENCE AND FAITH

What God wants from us is obedienceto His commandments and faith in Jesus

Jesus said:

  • “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” – Mathew 7:21-23.

Our focus should be on obeying our Father, not second-guessing Him, or feeling that we are entitled to an explanation. If we are not careful, we can get caught up in worrying about why things are happening, and we lose our focus on what is truly important.  This is especially true during times of adversity

During tragedy and illness, for example, the world asks, “Where is God?” or “How could God allow this to happen?” We need to remember that Satan is the ruler of the earth, as evidenced by the following four scriptures:

  1. “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one .” - 1 John 5:19,
  2. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 4:4,
  3. “The ruler of this world will be cast out.” -John 12:31,
  4. “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” - John 14:30.

Understanding that Satan is permitted to rule for a time by God helps explain a lot about why things happen the way they do. But that should not be what we spend our time and energy thinking about. As Christians, we need to stop worrying about the “why” and concern ourselves with the “what.”  We need to ask ourselves, "Are we doing all that God wants us to be doing?"  When we put our time and effort into obeying God, we will produce more fruit, feel less stressed, and be more fulfilled. 

GOD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS

In Romans 11, we see how Israel turned away from the Law, and that by their transgressions, salvation came to the Gentiles.  Later, the good favor of the Gentiles would stir up jealousy in the Jews and cause some to return to seeking God and obeying His commandments

Isn’t that amazing? 

Look how God used the transgressions of the Jews to provide an opportunity for the Gentiles.  Later, God would use the faithof the Gentiles to provide opportunities for the Jews by making them jealous.

Yes, God works in mysterious ways! But He loves us and wants to help us get to heaven. About God’s plan, Paul wrote: 

  • “All things work together for the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

If we really believe that we will concern ourselves with the “what” and not the “why.”

SECOND CHANCES

In Romans Chapter 11, Paul writes about how we are all branches of the same tree with Jesus at the center as the roots. Paul writes about how some branches will reject the tree and fall away, but others will grow strong in their faith.  Paul also writes that branches that have fallen away can be grafted back to the tree because the roots are strong. In other words, God gives second chances.

How comforting it is to know that even when we fall away, it is not too late for us to turn back to God! And when we do, He will be waiting for us with open arms. 

CONCLUSION

As humans, we were created to be curious. Our curiosity helps us to learn and to discover new things. When it comes to our faith, however, God wants us to be obedient to His commands without getting hung up on “why” things happen as they do.

God’s ways are higher than our ways, and we will not always understand why He does things the way that He does. It is true that God works in mysterious ways.

As Christians, our role is to be obedient to His commands and live our lives glorifying Him and serving others. When we do that, God will take care of all our needs.

We will end today’s study with the following words spoken by Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount:

  • “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Mathew 6:25-34.

Comments

Grace W

Great observation, John, that God used the transgressions of the Jews to provide opportunity for the Gentiles, and in due course God used the Gentiles’ faith to draw Jews back to Him! <3

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Sara R
Grace W

I just love this and have actually never seen this illustration. What comfort.

Reply
Dan W

"And so shall all Israel be saved..." tells us the condition--obedience to the gospel. Let us not give up on our Hebrew friends who have open hearts to the will of God.

Reply
John

Staying busy doing something positive during this pandemic seems more important than ever. If we look for opportunities to be serving God - with so many people upset, stressed, and ill - God will provide the opportunities for us.

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