Summary: God has neither totally nor finally given up on Israel.
Have you ever given up on a person? You even felt that the person is beyond your reach… even beyond the reach of God. Well, when we look at the nation Israel, we tend to think that way. In view of the ongoing and, it seems, never-ending conflict there, it appears to us that God gave up on Israel. Is there a future for Israel? Or, has God rejected her totally and finally? The answers to these questions about her future will also determine our future. For ours is tied up with hers.
Before we turn to Romans 11, let us look at big picture of the book of Romans. There are five parts in this puzzle, namely, sin, salvation, security, sovereignty and sacrifice. Tonight, we will zoom in at the sovereignty of God in Israel. First, Paul talked about sin. All of us stand guilty equally and desperately before God. Then, he talked about salvation. We can only be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. He then moved on to security. By the Spirit, we are secure in our relationship with God. Here questions about the fate of Israel will come into play. If God gave up on the Jews, what would keep Him from giving up on us? That’s how important this issue is to us.
Here we will find that God will keep His commitment to the believers just as He will keep His covenant with Israel. Interestingly, the first 8 chapters of Romans discussed the past or justification, the present or sanctification, and the future or glorification aspects of salvation. The next three chapters on Israel mirror it. “The emphasis in chapter 9 is on Israel’s past election, in chapter 10 on Israel’s present rejection, and in chapter 11 on Israel’s future restoration.” Just as God was, is and will be faithful to Israel, so also He was, is and will be faithful to us.
Chapter 9 answers the question, “Why did God choose Israel over all the other nations?” It was because of His mercy, not because of any merit on their part. Chapter 10 answers the question, “Was God right in rejecting Israel?” Israel did not believe so God rejected her. They were not ignorant. But rather they ignored the salvation God offered through Christ. Thus, Paul argued, God was right in rejecting Israel. It was not an arbitrary decision. Now, chapter 11 answers the question, “Was the present rejection of Israel total and final?” Romans 11 gave four reasons why the rejection of Israel by God at the present time is neither final nor fatal. Now, in view of our limited time, I will just highlight some verses in our passage. If ever you want a full-blown exposition of the text, I encourage you to join a Precepts class.
First, God has not given up His people because He reserved them for Himself. In verse 1, Paul asks the question, “Did God reject his people?” He framed his question in such a way that the answer can only be a resounding “No!” But even with that, Paul answered his own question: “By no means!” In Greek, it was a very strong, negative. It was if Paul was exclaiming, “How could you even think about it? It’s so absurd!” Thus, God will never reject His people. It is not just unthinkable. It is impossible.