Summary: God’s message of love is for all people regardless of race, culture or physical descent.
A. What, if any, place does Israel have in God’s world plan?
B. This question is answered in various ways by Christians.
1. One’s millennial view (end time understanding) often determines the answer.
2. Those considered premillenialists believe God will again deal with Israel at some point in the future-possibly during the thousand year reign of Christ, and that many-perhaps all, of the Jews will accept Christ as the Messiah at that time.
3. The creation of Israel as a state in 1948 reinforced the belief for many that God was not finished with them.
4. Others focus on Paul’s teaching that one is not a Jew simply because they are a descendant of Abraham but are spiritual Jews when they trust Christ.
5. American seems to believe Israel is important as seen by our continual attempts to support them as our allies and work with them as opposed to the Arab countries. As time continues, however, we see a lessening of this policy.
C. This leads to a further question: “Is God’s dealing with Israel as a chosen people finished since the church has been born?”
D. Our conclusion concerning this answer is not a reason for division but simply an acknowledgment that believers do disagree in their interpretation. What I believe about God’s future plan for Israel has nothing to do with what I believe about the method of salvation or mission endeavors.
I. Israel’s Place In God’s Plan (vv. 1- 10)
A. God has not rejected the Jews.
1. Making this statement does not require us to believe in a future time when many or all Jews living will be saved.
2. Remember God’s plan and purpose in choosing Israel in the beginning.
3. He brought Abraham from a pagan land to another pagan land and promised to make him a great nation, which he did.
4. God’s purpose in choosing this nation and giving them his Law was for them to influence other nations around them by pointing them to the one true God.
5. Just because they failed on so many occasions does not mean God rejected them completely.
6. Nor does it mean their failure led God to reformulate his plan and bring the Church into existence. This was always part of his plan. The Church was not an afterthought. Remember God does not reformulate his plans based on our fickle decisions. We respond to him. It may appear he is responding to our actions but this is only because we cannot see his entire plan. He is sovereign and omniscient.
7. Israel had her time in history, and presently the church is enjoying hers.
8. However, God has not totally rejected the Jews just as he has not the Gentiles.
9. The way of salvation is still open to Jews as it is to Gentiles. However, they must come the same way-by faith.
B. Paul’s Example (v. 1)
1. Paul was living proof of his conclusion.
2. Being a descendant of Abraham, Paul was a literal Jew who was now following and espousing the way of salvation God had revealed to him.
3. In past discussions, he had gone to great lengths to show the way was always faith-before as well as after the giving of the Law.
C. Elijah’s Example (vv. 2-4)
1. Elijah was a great reforming prophet during the period of the kings.
2. He had predicted a three year drought as God’s punishment for the people’s sin.
3. In the third year of the drought, God told Elijah to go see King Ahab (married to the wicked Queen, Jezebel), and tell him rain was on the way.
4. Obadiah was also involved in this scene. Though he was in charge of Ahab’s palace, he was a devout follower of God. When Jezebel tried to kill the Lord’s prophets, he had hidden one hundred of them in two caves. There were Jews who believed.
5. Then we come to the Mount Carmel episode where Elijah confronted the pagan prophets of Baal in a contest to see which God would answer by fire and thus be declared the true God.
6. God answered, but Jezebel put a death sentence on Elijah causing him to flee to the wilderness in fear and even request death. He was tired.
7. Elijah complained to God that he was all alone. No one else was following the Lord.
8. God reminded him, “Yet I will preserve seven thousand others in Israel who have never bowed to Baal or kissed him.” (I Kings 19:18)
9. Based on these two examples-himself and Elijah, Paul concludes God has not totally rejected his people.
10. After all, Jesus’ disciples were Jews.
11. God certainly tired of his people-whom he had done so much for, being disobedient to his commands. He reacts the same in our case. His grace, however, will not allow him to throw us away when we fail.