Will Israel be saved (election or rejection)?
In Romans 10 we saw Paul's heart for Israel. He laments their rejection of the gospel, while the gentiles believed. We concluded then that salvation belongs to God, no matter our desire for friends and loved ones, we cannot be the Holy Spirit. As Paul cried for his friends so should we. In the scripture this week we will see that sometimes, NO means not yet.
1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
The concept of a remnant has always been a part of God's redemptive plan, so it should be no surprise to see it in effect today. Paul explains and illustrates this concept beginning with his own experience. God had not totally rejected Israel. There was and is a remnant of godly and obedient believers in Israel. Paul, himself, is proof of this.
You have probably heard preachers refer to Romans 4 where we studied that believing gentiles were Abraham's spiritual children; and from that they conclude that all later references to Israel in the Bible are really the church and not Israel. But here Paul is very clearly teaching about ethnic Jews, his brothers according to the flesh, that are still a part of God's eternal plan.
2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 "Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"?[
1 Kings 19:10] 4 But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."[
1 Kings 19:18]
From beginning to end, this promise is thoroughly embedded in the Scriptures. Despite Israel's repeated disobedience the Lord nevertheless vows, "Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God." (Lev. 26:44)
In Elijah's time, seven thousand had not bowed their knee to Baal. In Isaiah's time there was a very small remnant. During the captivities the remnant appears in Jews like Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Esther, Mordecai. At the end of the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity, it was the remnant which returned under Ezra and Nehemiah. At the advent of our Lord, it was John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna and those that looked for redemption. During the church age, the remnant is composed of believing Jews. During the great tribulation, a remnant out of all Israel will turn to Jesus as Messiah, and will become His witnesses after the removal of the church. Very simply stated, God, Himself, guarantees a remnant.
Paul uses Elijah to show that even back then, God had a remnant. This is clearly seen in Elijah's experience (I Kings 19:9-18). His day was a time of sin and apostasy, and Elijah had been marked for death because he refused to stop preaching about righteousness. In a moment of extreme pressure and uncertainty, he cried out to God in prayer wondering if he was the only godly person left in Israel. God assured Elijah by telling him there were still seven thousand godly believers in the nation.
What I love about this story is God found Elijah alone hiding in a cave and yet he cried to God claiming his zeal. Have you ever been so depressed that you thought cowardice was courage? This can happen when we see ministry or service as our work, as though we are the only one who can do this important work for God. God looks at Elijah in the cave and says "what are you doing in here"? Elijah basically says "I was scared"; then God replies go stand on the mountain.
Many stray away from God and reject Him, within a nation, a state, a city, a neighborhood, a family or a religious body, but God always has His few, His promised remnant who obey and remain loyal to Him.
5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded.
There is no question about the fact, because of grace there is a remnant today, just as it was in the days of Elijah. We are not saved because we merit or work for salvation. No man deserves God's grace. God has mercy upon a man because He is a gracious God.
If a man can be saved because of works, then salvation would not be by grace (God), but by works (of man). Works would remove grace (God) from the picture and put works (man) in the forefront. Very simply put, God would no longer be necessary, for man would be saving himself.
The point is this, if it is God's grace that saves a man (and it is, just as it has always been) God will see to it that there is always a remnant of believers. God has chosen each of us in Christ Jesus according to His own foreknowledge and purpose. Just as God judged Israel by the Babylonian Captivity in the time of Daniel, in this age He had judged many with the affliction of spiritual blindness. Sometimes when debating a skeptic I will get a reply with all the intellectual power of a school-child's playground insult; and I think how can they be that dumb? To those afflicted, spiritual blindness is as devastating as physical blindness, it is impossible for them to see God. So then with Israel as our example we see a remnant of grace even among a majority of rebellion.
8 Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see
And ears that they should not hear, To this very day." (Isaiah 29:10)
9 And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. 10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, And bow down their back always." (Psalm 69:22-23)
11 I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
Paul asks a rhetorical question in verse 11. "The Jews did not stumble so as to fall, did they?" to which he answers, "May such a thing never occur."
The Jews have not been permanently cast out. Rather, they have been temporarily set aside. Just as the Lord did during the days of Moses and Joshua, He has suspended His plan for Israel to allow a season of grace, which we call "the church age." God did this for the benefit of everyone, Jew and Gentile.
12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
There is going to be a restoration of Israel, and they will one day as a nation, recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Meanwhile we, the church, are to be faithful in reaching out to the lost - Jew and Gentile. The apocalyptic writings of the Bible predict a huge outpouring a God's spirit in the last days including the salvation of at least 144,000 Jews. The suggestion is that these are unmarried men who could immediately begin preaching the gospel, and that God will use them for the redemption of innumerable souls during the great tribulation. So then the nations are blessed by Israel's blindness, and in their restoration. What a beautiful fulfillment of Genesis 22 when God promised Abraham ""In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."
What an amazing God, whether through obedience or through rejection God is always working out His plan of redemption in us. Though Paul had great compassion for His people and wanted to see them all saved, he understood that God's plan was always the best. Who else but God could use a thing like jealousy to reach the lost. No matter how much I want to see an individual trust in Jesus, God in His plan will always be more loving, more gracious, and more merciful than I could ever be.
AS A CHRISTIAN BELIEVER, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU MAY FEEL ALL ALONE IN THIS WORLD. WHEN YOU FEEL THAT WAY, WHAT ARE SOME SPECIFIC THINGS YOU NEED TO DO?
WHEN THE EVIL AND DEPRAVITY OF THIS WORLD GET TO YOU, HOW CAN GOD'S WORD BRING YOU COMFORT?
HOW DO WE RESPOND TO THE SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS OF PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT?
HOW DO WE RESOLVE THE IDEAS OF GOD HARDENING THE REBELOUS AND SHOWING GRACE TO THE ELECT, WITH OUR OWN SENSE OF FAIRNESS?