Slow down and look closely, and you will be blown away by the ironies that emerge from Romans 9:6-13 . The first irony is found in the second Genesis example. Not all of Israel belongs to Israel but rather God chose Israel (i.e. Jacob) over Esau. Did you catch that? Paul is proving that not every ethnic descendant of Israel is really a part of God's people by reminding his readers that God chose Israel to be a father of his people. How does that work? It is like saying, “The fact that God chose David to be king and to have a dynasty proves that those from David's line have no more right to the throne than those not from David's line.” Huh? And while our heads are already spinning, we run into a second irony. In verses 12-13, Paul quotes from Genesis and Malachi speaking of Jacob and Esau in order to prove the fact that not all of the nation that comes from Jacob really counts. But Genesis and Malachi are actually speaking of nations and not the individuals in these quotations! “The younger” in Genesis 25:33 refers to the nation which descends from the younger twin (i.e. Jacob) and “Jacob” in Malachi 1:2-3 refers to the people of Israel. So once again Paul is arguing that the nation you come from ethnically doesn't matter, from passages which speak about God choosing particular nations made up of descendants of particular individuals. Is Paul proving his point, or disproving it?! For those who care about why God does what he does, and how God's actions express and reveal his character, Paul is most certainly proving his point. What we learn from both these ironies is simple. God did not do what he did with Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau as a one-time, “happenstance” thing. We learn who God is from these texts, and the principle by which his people is formed. Ishmael and Esau had just as much bloodline connection with Abraham as did Isaac and Jacob. But bloodline is not God's modus operandi . No, God fulfills his promises through his sovereign election. That's how he did it when forming his chosen people from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob, and that is how he does it today. The foundation for belonging to God is not your descent, but God's free choice. And this brings us to the final irony of note. This time, it is not an irony found in the passage, but one in history. Why is it that those who believe in individual predestination unto salvation and those who believe in future promises for a specially chosen nation are so often not the same people? I live in Israel where most of the Church believes what Paul will go on to explain in chapter 11—namely, that God yet has future promises for ethnic Israel, to turn them back en masse to himself. However, most believers here also reject the notion that the ultimate cause of one person believing over another is God's sovereign election. But how could the first possibly be true if the second is not? Or, for those who believe the opposite—who accept predestination unto salvation, but reject future promises to Israel—why would such choosing and special promises to a specific nation be strange in light of who God is as the Sovereign Chooser? God is sovereign over nations, with still future promises to Israel. And God is sovereign over individuals, as the ultimate originator of our faith. I, for one, believe both.
Main point summary
God's word has not failed, for God's children are those chosen by him through his promise, not made his via good works or birthright.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed.
Οὐχ οἷον δὲ ὅτι ἐκπέπτωκεν ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ.
[Even though Israel has truly been chosen and granted unspeakable advantage AND at the same time presently is corporately accursed and cut-off from Messiah] still God's promises and plan have not been thwarted or stifled in any way.
For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
οὐ γὰρ πάντες οἱ ἐξ Ἰσραὴλ οὗτοι Ἰσραήλ•
Because we must consider this critical truth: not all of ethnic Israel are true Israel
and ... o because they are his offspring ...of Abraham,
οὐδʼ ὅτι εἰσὶν σπέρμα Ἀβραὰμ
that is the fact that their blood heritage goes all the way back to Abraham
... not all are children ...
does not therefore make them all true / spiritual / eternal children of Abraham.
but p “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
ἀλλʼ• ἐν Ἰσαὰκ κληθήσεταί σοι σπέρμα.
Rather the offspring of Abraham, God's chosen, were counted through Isaac and not Ishmael.
This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God,
τοῦτʼ ἔστιν, οὐ τὰ τέκνα τῆς σαρκὸς ταῦτα τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ
Therefore we can understand from this that being in the right family does not automatically put you into God's family
but q the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
ἀλλὰ τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας λογίζεται εἰς σπέρμα.
But rather God's children are those connected to him through God's promises
For this is what the promise said:
ἐπαγγελίας γὰρ ὁ λόγος οὗτος•
Because , to bring it back to Isaac, you will recall this key promise :
r “About this time next year I will return,
κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦτον ἐλεύσομαι
“In roughly one year's time I, the Lord, will meet you once again
and Sarah shall have a son.”
καὶ ἔσται τῇ Σάρρᾳ υἱός.
and as a result of that encounter, Sarah will birth a son.”
And not only so, but s also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
Οὐ μόνον δέ, ἀλλὰ καὶ Ῥεβέκκα ἐξ ἑνὸς κοίτην ἔχουσα, Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν•
And Genesis provides another vivid example of this same point: At the time when Rebekah conceived twins (that is, with one father—Isaac, who we just spoke of)
though they were not yet born
μήπω γὰρ γεννηθέντων
even though the twins were not even yet born
and had done nothing either good or bad—
μηδὲ πραξάντων τι ἀγαθὸν ἢ φαῦλον,
and therefore had no moral works to their credit or debt
in order that God’s purpose of election might continue,
ἵνα ἡ κατʼ ἐκλογὴν πρόθεσις τοῦ θεοῦ μένῃ,
this timing being purposed to preserve the reality of God's predestination in choosing
not because of works
οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων
that is so that their being chosen (or not) would in no way rest upon their works
but because of t him who calls—
ἀλλʼ ἐκ τοῦ καλοῦντος,
but instead would rest solely on the One doing the choosing
she was told,
[at that time] Rebekah was told by God :
u “The older will serve the younger.”
ὅτι ὁ μείζων δουλεύσει τῷ ἐλάσσονι,
“Contrary to custom and nature, the typically honored older of the twins will be subservient to the younger.”
As it is written,
This timing and pronouncement accord with Malachi 1:2-3 :
v “Jacob I loved,
τὸν Ἰακὼβ ἠγάπησα,
“I have chosen to plan and purchase grace for Jacob and in this way place my forgiving, eternal love upon Jacob's line,
but Esau I hated.”
τὸν δὲ Ἠσαῦ ἐμίσησα.
but on the other hand I have not chosen Esau's line for grace and thus my righteous hate rests upon him/them.”