Summary: God has not rejected his people, the Jews. Today the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, and Christianity is embraced more by Gentiles (that’s who we are) than Jewish people, yet the Bible still says God is not through with the nation of Israel.
Today I want to talk about how God can change rejection into rejoicing or reconciliation. Romans, 9, 10, and 11 is the section of Romans where Paul is dealing with Israel, with the Jews. To review the entire scope of the book of Romans I am preaching through, Romans, 1-8 is God’s righteousness described. But people say, “If God is righteous, what about the Jews?” Well, Romans 9 through 11 is God’s righteousness defended. Paul is defending the way God has and is dealing with the Jews today. Then, when we get to chapter 12 in a couple of weeks, chapter 12 through the end of the book is a very practical section on God’s righteousness displayed. Some have said before you can really understand Romans 9 through 11 you have to think with a Jewish mindset, and they do have a little different way of thinking.
Ray Stedman was the pastor of Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California for many years. He went to visit a Jewish rabbi and said, “I really want to understand the Old Testament the way a Jewish person understands the Old Testament. The rabbi said, “Well, that’s probably impossible because you just cannot think like a Jew.” Ray said, “Well, I think I can. Help me now.” The rabbi said, “All right. I’ll ask you three questions. If you can get these three questions correct, you can think like a Jewish rabbi thinks. Question number one, “Two men fall down a chimney. One of them comes out dirty. The other one comes out clean. Which of the two men washes himself?” Ray Stedman said, “Well, that’s pretty simple. The dirty one washes himself.” The rabbi said, “Wrong. See, you’re not thinking right. What happens is the clean one looks at the dirty one and thinks he is dirty the dirty one looks at the clean one and he thinks he is clean. So, it’s the clean one who washes himself.” Ray Stedman said, “Ok, I think I am getting it.” The rabbi said, “All right. Let me ask you another question. Two men fall down a chimney. One comes out clean; one comes out dirty. Which one washes himself.” Ray Stedman said, “All right. The clean one. The rabbi said, “Wrong. What happens is that the clean one looks at the dirty one and says to the dirty one, ‘You’re dirty’. The dirty one looks at himself and sees he is dirty, so he cleans himself.” Ray is getting a little more confused. The rabbi said, “One more question. Two men fall down a chimney. One comes out dirty; the other one comes out clean. Which one cleans himself?” By this time Ray Stedman doesn’t know how to answer. So, he says, “It’s either both of them or neither of them.” The rabbi said, “Wrong. You’re totally wrong. See, you are not thinking like a Jewish rabbi. The answer to that question, first of all, is ridiculous and impossible, because two men cannot fall down a chimney and one of them come out clean and the other come out dirty So, Ray Stedman walked away and said, “I probably am never going to understand the Old Testament the way the Jewish mind set understands it.” I want to remind you that the apostle, Paul, was a Jew, himself. He was an Israelite, and he is writing this, reasoning to a certain conclusion.
I. GOD HASN'T REJECTED HIS PEOPLE (1-4)
Now, I want us to read here beginning in verse 1 of chapter 11, and please keep your Bible open because we are going to look at the verses in chapter 15 section by section. Paul writes, “I ask then: Did God reject his people?” [meaning the Jews] “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 the 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.” Keep your Bibles open this is the first thing Paul is saying here God hasn’t rejected his people. God has not rejected his people, the Jews. Obviously, today the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, and Christianity is being embraced more by Gentiles (that’s who we are) than Jewish people, but yet the Bible still says God is not through with the nation of Israel.
1. Human proof: Paul
Paul is going to give us some proof here. The proof is Paul himself. He says, “You want an example that God is not through with the Jews. Look at me.” He says in verse 1, “I am an Israelite. I am a descendant of Abraham. I am of the tribe of Benjamin and God is still dealing with me. So, God is not through with the Israelites.” Marv Rosenthal, who is a Jewish Christian in America, estimates there are fifty thousand Jewish believers in America. He estimates there are at least two hundred and fifty million Jewish believers around the world today. We are going to see in just a moment that God has this group as a remnant.