I have a confession to make. I feel so inadequate in going through Romans with you. I know there is deep information God has for us here but I feel at a loss when digging through it. I’m praying I don’t sound like a total idiot and am relying on Him to give me something I can hold onto. I am going to continue making my way through and seeing where He takes me. You are welcome to come along for the ride, or not, if you would like. I would really like your feedback and insight into our reading too.
In our reading today Paul asks a question. “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?” (verse 1). Paul counts there as being great value and I would have to agree with him.
When God chose a people for Himself He was able to pour out His love on them. The world got to observe His hand at work. They got to see both blessings and judgement for their actions. When the Israelites came to Jericho that first time the people were terrified of them. They had seen the hand of Israel’s God in action. This little upstart group rousted people they had no earthly hope against. The people had the fear of God instilled in them because of what they saw.
The nations who conquered Israel were only able to do so because they were being used as an instrument of correction against Israel’s rebellion against God. Those nations also received sever punishment when they overstepped their role as correction and became abusive to God’s people. God was able to impact the conquering nations too through the faithfulness of a special few of His people. Pharaoh, Joseph and the famine was one instance. Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel and the lion’s den was another.
The Jewish nation provided the “formal introduction” to the world of our Mighty God. I was given a picture that might explain what I mean. Think of electricity in your home. You have outlets on the walls and power running through it, but until you plug something in to those outlets you don’t see the POWER demonstrated. It takes the appliance or lightbulb or whatever for that power to operate in your life.
God used Israel as an outlet for His power. He showed us, in a way we could grasp, His love. He demonstrated it every day as He fed the multitude in the wilderness with manna from Heaven. He proved He had power over the enemy when He sent an army of angels to fight against Israel’s enemies. He communicated His standards when He wrote the Ten Commandments with His own fingertip. And He provided the understanding of a binding covenant when He initiated circumcision. Without a vessel God’s power would not be fully recognized by man. Yes, we see it in creation but we understand and recognize it when it impacts our daily struggles.
Another analogy that just came to mind is the man who carried water from the well. He carried it using two pots. One was perfect and the other had cracks running through it. The perfect one felt proud of itself because it always performed its job with excellence. While the cracked pot felt shame and unworthy of its calling. One day the man was asked why he even bothered carrying the cracked pot back and forth to the well when he knew that he would lose most of his water before reaching home. The man asked his questioner if he had noticed the flowers along the roadside. “Why, yes I have. They are beautiful. Why do they only grow on one side though? ” “Because that is the side where the cracked and imperfect pot spreads the life giving water as I make my way home.”
Israel, the pot, didn’t need to be perfect to share God’s love with the world. Being a bit broken made His power shine that much brighter. This imperfect people introduced us to a perfect and loving God.
Father God, thank You for working through the Jewish people; Your imperfect people. I’m so sorry that many won’t accept that they are imperfect and try to convince themselves that they are the perfect pot. The weight of their “perfection” will be their undoing eventually. Even though their pot may be perfect they still can’t reach the water without being taken to it. We each need You to fill us and pour us onto the thirsty soil. Thank You that You let me learn of You through reading their stories. I know I’m a “cracked pot” and am so honored by You still choosing to use me. Let me be Your tool.