Summary: Because God has not rejected Israel, I can be confident that God is not finished with me yet
This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
A couple of years ago we left off in our study of the book of Romans right in the middle of chapter 8. So when we came back to our study almost 2 years later, it was really hard to pick up where we left off. So because I don’t want to make that same mistake again, we’re going to spend the next four weeks looking at Romans chapter 11 before we move on and spend much of our year in the gospel accounts of Jesus this year.
That is because Romans chapters 9-11 make up one cohesive unit in Paul’s letter. Hopefully you’ll remember that the question that Paul is dealing with in this section is whether the fact that most of the Jews have rejected Jesus as the Messiah means that God’s plan for Israel has been thwarted. And Paul answers that question with an emphatic “no!”.
In chapter 9, Paul makes the point that God’s plan has not been thwarted at all because Israel’s unbelief is part of God’s sovereign plan. And then in chapter 10, he focuses on the fact that Israel’s failure to put their faith in Jesus is a result of their own choices. So in those two chapters, we find the sometimes uneasy balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s ability to make choices.
In chapter 11, Paul is going to deal with the question that flows logically from what he has written in chapters 9 and 10:
Is God through with Israel?
I don’t know about you, but on the surface at least, that question doesn’t seem to have a lot of relevance to me because, at least as far as I know, I’m not Jewish. What does the future of Israel have to do with how to have a good marriage, or how to raise my kids, or how to be wise in the handling of my finances, or how to be successful in my job, or how to deal with my health problems or other difficulties that I’m facing in life?
First of all, while the Bible certainly does address all of those issues, that is not its primary purpose. The Bible, and our relationship with God is not mainly about us at all – it is about God. But even beyond that, there are a couple of very practical reasons that the answer to that question is actually very relevant to our lives.
First, the underlying issue that Paul is going to deal with in this chapter is can God’s promises fail? Because if God’s promises for Israel can fail that means that all of God’s promises to us, including the promises in Romans 8 that God will work all things together for my good or that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ can fail, too. So the crucial underlying issue here is can I trust God to keep His promises?
The second underlying question here is whether God is going to forsake me when I fail Him, which I will inevitably do. If God is through with Israel because of their rebellion and unbelief, then how can I possibly be sure that God won’t reject me like that, too?
Before we read our passage this morning, I want to address one important issue that you have probably either already experienced in your walk with Jesus or you will in the future. There are some people who hold to what is known as “replacement theology” or supersessionism”. Although there are several different forms of this theology, its basic teaching is that the church has replaced, or superseded, Israel in God’s plan and that therefore the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament are now promises to the church.
Unfortunately, especially when taken to an extreme, replacement theology has historically led to anti-Semitism and great persecution of the Jewish people. Near the end of his life even Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, wrote a work titled “On the Jews and Their Lies” in which he urged that synagogues and Jewish schools should be burned to the ground, Jewish people run out of their homes, their prayer books and Talmudic writings burned and the rabbis forbidden to preach or teach on penalty of death.
I firmly believe the passage that we’ll read this morning, very clearly refutes any such teaching.
[Read Romans 11:1-10]
Here is the main idea that I want all of us to take away from this passage this morning: