February 7 - Romans 11:1-10

Friday, February 7, 2014

Romans 11:1-10 – The Remnant of Israel

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”  So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 

What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:  “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.”  

And David says:  “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.” 

God's plan is in progress. Even the actions of a disobedient and contrary people can't stop that plan. Has he rejected his people? Absolutely not. Paul is one of the Israelites and he is part of those who are part of the kingdom of God because of their faith.

Paul reminds his readers of Elijah's words from 1 Kings 19. He thought he was the only Jew who had not bowed down to Baal, but God told him that there seven thousand men … a remnant who had not bowed down. In the time of Paul, there was a remnant, those who were chosen by grace. Today, there is a remnant, Jews who come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. There will always be that remnant. And those people would come into the kingdom through grace, not by anything they did themselves.

Even as Paul insists upon the reality of God's grace, he is aware of the immensity of unbelief found among Jews. There are consequences. In Romans 11:7, Paul asks "What then?" Israel has continued to search for righteousness, but they can't get there. The elect … those who were Jews and Gentiles obtained it.

Their continued refusal to acknowledge the salvation offered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ becomes a snare … a stumbling block and retribution for their actions. In quoting from Psalm 69, Paul extends the words to explain that they will be in spiritual bondage forever because of their rejection of salvation.