The important lesson from God’s dogged insistence not to give up on Israel in spite of Israel’s repeated failure is simply this: God never breaks his promises.
We Christians have frequently looked at the Jews and reckoned them people on whom God has given up, a people whose failure makes them somehow less than us in God’s eyes. But Paul reminds us here that precisely the opposite is true.
If Paul is right, and God had always had it as part of his plan to bring you and me into the fold of his flock and the family of his kingdom, then God really is extraordinarily gracious and kind.
It’s therefore critically important for us, this Lent, to ask ourselves: how can I confess that Christ is my Lord the better? How can I live, and what can I say, so that I confess the lordship of Christ better?
It is a great irony that, the more we try to earn God’s favour, the more we make a mockery of his grace, and hence the more difficult it is for us to receive it.
So let us this Lent ask God to confront us in scripture, and, as we read his word, to show up where our lives need to change.
Trying to make sense of what God does with us and with others (why me? why her? why not me?) is a fool’s errand. We just don’t know; and we are not supposed to know. What we do know is that God is good, and that he loves us.
Because if what matters is not what we do outwardly or who we are but rather what sort of relationship with God we have, then our relationship with God is really the most important thing in our lives. We do well in Lent to take stock of the quality of our relationship with God, and to seek to patch it up where necessary.
Mid-way through Lent it’s a good thing for us to do the same: to stop, praise God for his inestimable grace, for his power, his might, his cunning, his self-sacrifice in Christ; and to rejoice that we are his and he is ours through Christ.
So when we are suffering, when the sorrows of life crowd around us, let us rejoice in this: God has chosen us since the very beginning, and he will never, ever let us go.