Rom 11:30-33 “For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
There is a very simple principle of truth here: we have all been in an attitude of unbelief at one time or another in our lives. We might, like the rich young ruler, claim to have believed in God from our youth. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves before Him, we might have believed in Him but we did not always believe what He said. Unbelief runs deeper than deny the existence of God the Father, God the Son, and/or God the Holy Spirit.
Paul does not say to his audience that in times past they did not believe in God: his accusation is that they did not believe God. God had shown His great mercy in bringing them to a state of believing God even as the Jewish nation departed from believing God. They failed to believe that their own righteousness was insufficient to please God. They also failed to believe that He had been faithful to His promise to send the Messiah.
Paul admonishes us that those who might now be in unbelief will not necessarily always be in that condition. It behooves us to show mercy to those who are in unbelief. We ourselves were recipients of the mercy of others when we walked in unbelief. It is impossible for us to say that we have never been guilty of not believing God.
The scripture tells us here that God has concluded (embraced in a common subjection to) all in unbelief. While we might seem to be strong in belief in the eyes of others, we stand before God with the sure knowledge that we have not always believed Him. Our waywardness in thought and deed are sufficient proof that God is righteous to conclude all in unbelief. What a great God we serve!
He has concluded all in unbelief, according to Paul, that He might have mercy upon all. God’s compassion for us is clearly seen in that He has not cast us away because of unbelief. He has, in His mercy (compassion) for us, gently led us and corrected us. The end result is that we not only believe in God but that we believe God.
Who can plumb the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! For all of His mercy and grace that He has shown us, we still cannot fathom the extent of His wisdom and knowledge. Even as it looks like the world is unraveling around us, we are sure that God is in control. That is what it means to, by His mercy, lay aside our unbelief and walk by faith.
In His mercy toward us, we come to understand that His decisions cannot be fathomed by our limited understanding. However, when we are delivered from unbelief, we trust Him regardless of our inability to understand. The ways in which God works are often untraceable to us: we cannot discern the scope of His purpose. We can, however, trust that His thoughts have always been to us-ward and more than we can number (Psa 40:5).
May we rejoice always in the unsearchable depths of God’s mercy that leads us to believe Him!