We open our study of Romans 11 with the last three verses of Romans 10. Why?
Because chapter 11 is a continuation of thought, and, as you will see, opens with what seems like an important.
If we have some form of Christian world view, one that is aware of the angry tones which accompany the voices of those who say, God is done with Israel, and their fate is hell. Is this question that Paul asks, “did the people of Israel really understand,” a valid one? Paul tells us that they did understand, and he uses himself as an example, but, as he says in verse 21, “they were disobedient and rebellious.”
Romans 10:19-21 NLT But I ask, did the people of Israel understand? Yes, they did, for even in the time of Moses, God said, “I will rouse your jealousy through people who are not even a nation. I will provoke your anger through the foolish Gentiles.” (20) And later, Isaiah spoke boldly for God, saying, “I was found by people who were not looking for me. I showed myself to those who were not asking for me.” (21) But regarding Israel, God said, “All day long, I opened my arms to them, but they were disobedient and rebellious.”
When we open chapter 11, we immediately we see Paul using another rhetorical question. Watch how he answers it analytically and insight-fully.
”I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel?
Of course not!
I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.”
(Romans 11:1 NLT)
Far too many have tried to answer this question; however, they would tell you that God has rejected His own people. How and why would you do that, when the Holy Spirit has seen fit to put an answer there on the page for you to see. A man I sat under for a short time, would say things that conflicted with the Word of God. Called on his error by showing him the truth in the Word, he would respond with, “that’s my opinion, and that is all that matters.”
So then, God has not rejected his people, and the fact that Paul is speaking into our lives proves that point.
God didn’t turn his back on his people. After all, he chose them. Don’t you know what Scripture says about Elijah? He complained to God about Israel.
(Romans 11:2 NIrV)
Look at what Leviticus says,
But for all that, when they are in the land of their haters, I will not let them go, or be turned away from them, or give them up completely; my agreement with them will not be broken, for I am the Lord their God. (Leviticus 26:44 BBE)
I believe that 1Kings 19, beginning with verse 10, is what Paul is referring to when he speaks of Elijah’s complaint.
“Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18 NASB)
It is evident that Elijah felt very alone,
“Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.”
(Romans 11:3 NASB)
Paul pointed out in the ninth chapter of this letter to the church in Rome that only a remnant would survive; is God telling us, based upon the number that He gave to Elijah, that the remnant will equal 7000? I am not so sure, and here is why.
“It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish, but the third will be left in it.
(Zechariah 13:8 NASB)
Even though Zechariah speaks of a third that does not perish, a more significant number of passages speak of only a few surviving. As of October 2019, Israel claims a population of 9,108,500 inhabitants. If a third survived what is coming, we could potentially be looking at somewhere around 3 million people; a tenth would be 900,000. To only have 7000 walking into the millennial reign is a shockingly small number.
But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.”
(Romans 11:4 NASB)
Don’t we also sometimes feel alone, especially when we see the truth in God’s Word, and it conflicts with what is being taught from the podium and then professed by the lost sheep that we sit by in our churches? I have experienced this feeling on multiple occasions. A pastor of mine was trying to explain the communion, and it’s origins, in his closing comments to a men’s retreat. He said, “Jesus did not want to die for you.” Now, I can give the man some grace and say that he misspoke, but the damage was done, and he made no attempts to correct his error. If you are one of those lost sheep, and cannot, or will not read for yourself, then this conversation is pointless to you. However, I have studied my bible and know what it says,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NASB)
The Apostle John tells us this about God and His attitude toward us.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NASB)
Does that sound like someone who did not want to die for you? No, I didn’t think so.
Now watch as Paul, speaking to an audience in which the majority are Jewish Christ-followers, says, it is not so different today. Remember, context is everything and may exclude me from applying this next verse to the time frame in which we live.
“In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.”
(Romans 11:5 NASB)
Just as the story about Elijah lamented what appeared to be his solitary efforts to promote God, we too are not alone,and, though you may not see them, the others are out there. Many, not needing the spotlight, pray their tears out before God; they pray in this manner because they too feel alone.
The NLT translation does a better job of moving us through Romans 11:5, so let’s look at that.
It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them.
(Romans 11:5 NLT)
Note the phrase undeserved kindness.
And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For, in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.
(Romans 11:6 NLT)
“And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works.” Who is the “they” in this sentence? The Jews, but as Paul already pointed out, anyone can jump on board.
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
(Romans 3:21-24 NLT)
- “God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law”
- “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.”
- “this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”
- “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
- “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.”
- He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
What is Israel seeking?
What then [shall we conclude]? Israel failed to obtain what it sought [God’s favor by obedience to the Law]. Only the elect (those chosen few) obtained it, while the rest of them became callously indifferent (blinded, hardened, and made insensible to it).
(Romans 11:7 AMP )
So the question is, what is Israel seeking?
Some might say they are seeking a Messiah. Sadly, He came, and they would not recognize Him. Will they know Him when God’s wrath is poured out on them once again?
Have a look at Eugene Peterson’s translation.
Romans 11:7 MSG And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result, received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God.
Has Israel ever stopped trying to be right, pursuing her own self-interests?
If what Peterson sees is those who allow God to pursue His interests in them, do we see Israel as doing that? Apparently not.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16 NASB, But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
So Israel will have to turn to the Lord, and that day will come.
Romans 11:8 NET. as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear,
to this very day.”
Romans 11:9 NLT Likewise, David said,
“Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve.
Romans 11:10 NLT
Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs be bent forever.”
Paul is quoting much of Romans 11:8-10 from Psalms 69, but he, like Jesus frequently did, is only taking a portion for Psalm 69 speaks of their homes being deserted. Now, this may be the destruction that is coming to Israel, but who would wish that on someone?