Romans 11:33: The Deep Riches and Wisdom of God
‘Sound Biblical exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and centre of their hearts.’ So writes A W Tozer in His preface to his book The Pursuit of God. The information we receive from the bible is not to be studied in order to build a library of facts but to confront us with the truth of who God is draw us out in worship before Him. And it must be worship for when we understand something of God as He actually is, our souls only have one response, we fall down on our faces before Him. For this reason we come to one of the best parts of the book of Romans 11:33-36.
Paul has been speaking in great detail about the mystery of God’s plan for the Jews. This discussion has come on the heels of 8 chapters of discussing the gospel of God which has the power to save all who believe. And here we see Paul cannot go on, He must worship. The truth in all of its dimensions has overwhelmed His mind and his heart is taking over and must respond. That word ‘Oh’ at the start is a word of surprise, it is a word of adoration, it is a word expressing a soul that is too full and overflowing who is overwhelmed by God and must express it. Here we see doctrine serving its true end, doxology. It is good that we have these outbursts by Paul, he is like a cyclist who we are riding behind and we are able to follow more easily as we hide in his slipstream. But when it comes to Paul it is like trying to hang onto the outside of the bullet train and your nails are threatening to tear out because of the heights and speed he is moving. This passage amounts to a train track that takes us higher and higher until we are launched over the end into the endless infinity of God, and it dismantles every part of you as you are confronted with the reality of the beauty, the glory, the infinite majesty of our Triune God.
So today we are going to piggy back Paul as he leads us to the highest heights of worship. 11:33-36 can be broken up into four sets of 3. In v33 we see three words about God’s unknowability, in the words depths, unsearchable and inscrutable. In v33 we see three aspects of God drawing Paul’s soul out in worship, God’s riches, His wisdom and knowledge. In v34-35 we see three rhetorical questions, each of these seem to be working backwards with the 3 aspects of God just mentioned. ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord.’ Corresponds to knowledge; ‘or who has been His counsellor’ corresponds to wisdom; ‘Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid’ corresponds to God’s gracious riches. And then in v36 we have three inclusive descriptions of God’s plan, ‘For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.’ And it is all capped with a final declaration of eternal praise.