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The Hundred-Seventy-Third (Romans Part 2)

We're continuing our study of the book of Romans this week.  We're still in chapter 1, and last week we covered the first 17 verses, which is essentially the introduction of Paul's letter to the Romans.  He greeted them, and then talked about the faith of the believers in Rome and his being unashamed of speaking the gospel to non-believers.

The rest of the chapter, Paul transitions to talking about what's happening in the world with the non-believers (v18-32).  It's interesting that this is the first thing he talks about when writing to his fellow believers in Rome, but it sort of makes sense, doesn't it?  These people are trying to navigate life living and working with non-believers, and many of them came from that same lifestyle not too long before.  

Paul takes an interesting angle on his discussion of the worldly people, one that today you will rarely hear preached.  When today's church talks about spreading the gospel to non-believers, the focus is on informing people of what they're missing.  The goal is to make sure those of the world know Yeshua died for their sins, so that they could be forgiven of them, because the assumption is that those people are doing the things they're doing and acting the way they're acting because they don't know these things. 

Paul, on the other hand, comes right out and says they all know YHWH because He made Himself known to them.  YHWH's workmanship, in His creation, is clear evidence of His existence.  Paul says there's no excuse for those of the world not to know Him, and because they choose to ignore Him, they are subject to His wrath.

The first three verses, 18 through 20, are Paul's summary of the remainder of this chapter (obviously, he didn't actually have chapters, but it just makes it easier to parse and talk about).  Starting in verse 21, Paul sort of jumps back in time to discuss how we got to a place where people are doing what they're doing out in the world.  Way back, they actually knew YHWH, but chose not to worship Him.  They looked inward, to themselves, to answer questions about creation and how it works and to develop their own objects to worship, some of which are based on things in creation.

Since they chose to ignore YHWH, He let them continue on their path.  YHWH does not force anyone to love Him or worship Him.  Everyone has to make their own choice.  As time progressed, people strayed further and further from the truth and from the way YHWH designed His creation.

Paul then describes the result of this straying, and these are things we see today.  In fact, it's almost as if some of the things Paul lists died down until recently.  Or at least went into hiding.  Perhaps these things are just a part of the natural progression of a society without YHWH, and over time while a kingdom, country or empire may start by operating closer to they way YHWH intended, it eventually ends up degenerating and doing the things Paul describes.

He lists quite a few things, the first of which is homosexuality.  You may hear people say he did not mean the homosexuality we see today, but make no mistake, that is exactly what he was talking about.  He even mentions that as a result of these actions, people "receive in themselves the due penalty for [this] error," which is a clear description of the diseases and sicknesses people may get by engaging in those types of acts.  

Paul goes on to talk about many other things that are a result of straying away from YHWH.  And it's quite a long list!  Some highlights include murder, deceit, arrogance, and my personal favorite, disobeying parents.  This is my favorite because it makes it clear where disobeying parents comes from: evil.  There's a reason YHWH made it one of the commandments, and it's one of the most common things you see in the world today.

Paul finishes this discussion about worldly people and their actions by emphasizing that they know better and yet they still do all those things.  He states that they even know what the consequence of those actions are.  Not only that, they are good with other people doing all those things!  In my opinion, Paul stating they "approve" of others doing them is not giving a thumbs up, so to speak, rather it's when you hear people say things like, "well, you can't blame him."  In other words, people justify someone doing one of the things Paul listed by saying it's ok based on the circumstances the person was in.

In the end, we know there's a lot of people doing bad things out there, whether it's because they know YHWH and choose to ignore Him or whether they are so blinded by evil they believe in all the evolution stories they're fed.  We still should be unashamed, just like Paul, to spread the good news to those people.  Next week, we'll see that Paul turns his attention back to the believers, and you may be surprised to see what he says!  

I hope you have a great week!  Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you! 

-Rob and Sara Gene

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