Before our detour about the wisemen we left off with an analogy of a man in an elite cancer treatment facility discovering three things: There was a cure but the facility wasn't using it and thirdly he wasn't special or elite.
Paul was that man. He had been raised to view himself and all Jews as elite and above the consequences of sin because of his nationality. He was so convinced that when Jesus came and showed that He was the fulfillment of all the prophecies... and the true Lamb of God, Paul did everything he could to suppress it. He hunted Christ followers down and imprisoned and even killed them. He was convinced it was the right thing to do.
Then one day while traveling to Damascus to hunt down more Christians, God literally stopped him in his tracks. From that moment Paul realized he was on the wrong side of the "war". He wasn't fighting for God but against Him. He realized he wasn't special for being a Jew. What made the Jews "special" is that Christ was born through their family line.
Like streets on a parade route - the streets are just ordinary streets like all the others. It is being chosen to be part of the parade route that gives them significance and only for a time. When the parade is over they go back to being regular streets.
The Bible traces one nation over the others from Abraham down not because they are more important but because the focus of the Bible is Jesus and He was arriving through that nation.
Again Paul begins chapter 9 this way:
9 "I speak the truth in Christ — I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost—
2 that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,
4 who are Israelites and to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
5 of whom are the fathers, and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen"
Paul is in a state of constant sadness because he sees the big picture and understands the delusion he was under. He is sad because his fellow countrymen are still under it. They are full of "cancer" and warring against the Cure. They have been carrying the information leading to the Cure for 2000 years and now they have murdered Him and are murdering all those trying to embrace Him and live. When I put myself in His shoes it isn't hard to imagine the twisted irony and pain he finds himself in. He would do anything to help them find the Cure but they seem cemented in their false delusions of superiority.
We'll see what more Paul has to say about it tomorrow and how it applies to us today.