Romans 9, 10 & 11 are the Apostle Paul’s discourse on the meaning of Israel’s national election, current rejection of Christ, and future salvation in the economy of God. 

Romans 11 explains how God has not rejected Israel as a nation in unbelief. There Paul asks in verse 1:”God has not rejected Israel, has he?“.The form of the question in Greek assumes a negative answer, and then Paul strongly denies that God has rejected Israel as an obstinate people in their sins. Impossible. ‘May it never be” is the sense of the Greek term “me genoito”.  Paul is really emphasizing the utter denial of such a rejection.

And the rejection in view is one of final casting away. God is to have supposedly finished with Israel as a nation because of unbelief in Christ. And instead, God has turned to the Gentiles, who have accepted the Gospel and are the majority of the church. But this phenomenon is a false interpetation by the Gentiles of what is happening to Israel. It would seem that the newly “ingrafted” members of God’s household from the Gentiles need a short lesson in Biblical history and how God works.

Paul begins by pointing to himself as evidence of the faithfulness of God to Israel as a people. “For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin”.

 Important to note here is what Paul is not actually saying. He is not saying that his belief as a Jewish Christian in the church is proof that God is saving the elect of Israel. It is tautalogical to assert that God has not rejected the elect.

 What Paul is answering is the question of national casting away forever of the Jewish people. And since Paul identifies with the currently set aside nation of Israel in three ways (nationality/DNA/tribe) he is clearly saying that God is keeping and saving Israelites such as those of Benjamin, and they are Abraham’s children. In other words, not every Jewish person is in unbelief, and so God is still dealing with Jews as Jews. They as Jews must still inherit the promises of God as stated in his unconditional covenants. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. This is not just the elect. It is the nation as an adopted and called out people. God foreknew Israel distinct from other nations.

Going back to the book of Kings,(1 Kings 19:10,14) Paul draws from an example of former Israelite apostasy, and how God even then had graciously saved a remnant of Israelites. To reject Israel, God would have to reject all Jews, and clearly He has not done that.  Instead he has sovereignly kept a remnant that is chosen by grace.

The issue is God’s sovereign choice. Jews as Jews are chosen. That chocie is irrevocable. And God’s grace is freely given, Israel did not earn it. But Israel at the present as a nation has failed to obtain the righteouness of God, because it sought it by works of the Law. And grace and works are mutually exclusive as the basis for salvation.

For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.Psalm 94:14

This is what the LORD says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 31:37

TO reject Israel is to foresake Israel. And God will not do that ever. So how do we understand the present situation of the Jewish nation? Why have they so adamantly put the Gospel away from themselves? It’s because of a sovereign, judicial hardening of Israel by God Himself! It’s God who gave them a “spirit of stupor”, “eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear”.

 It’s this spiritual obstinancy that has caused enmity to the Gospel, and the occasion of preaching towards the Gentiles, that God is saving in the present age. Israel is set aside temporarily, and in unbelief only partially. The Gentiles will come to a  “fullness” one day. And God will yet again turn to accomplish a national salvation for His people whom he foreknew above other nations.  All Israel will be saved.

What does this mean? Not every Jew without exception. But the final generation of the Jewish people as a nation, and as distinct from the Church. They will be placed back into the “place of blessing” where they naturally belong. Then they will dwell in the Spirit, and have the law written internally, and live safely in their land.

So then, when you see a Jewish person today who has not yet beleived in the Gospel, remember that Paul explains their enmity as purposeful-the occasion for Gentile inclusion. There is a note of hope in the midst of hardness and blindness.

This truth should cause Gentiles to be humble, and thankful, and actually provoke Jews to jealousy as they see Gentiles enjoying  Patriarchal spiritual blessings from their own root. Romans 11:24. What it should not do, is cause us to reject Israel and to make the church the “New Israel” in it’s place.That is what Paul is getting at. And if you miss this point, you miss all of Paul’s argument in Romans 9-11.

Advertisements