Summary: Not all Israel is Israel
December 5, 2010
Not too long ago Jenny said to me, “I’m bursting today, so I won’t get to color.”
At least that’s what I heard.
What she actually said was, “It’s your mom’s birthday, so don’t forget to call her.”
It’s very important in communication to understand what’s being said! It can mean a big difference.
The eleventh chapter of Romans is full of statements that have been misunderstood, and a lot of false doctrines (such as dispensationalism) find their support in misunderstanding them.
But probably most people do as I’ve done for a long time and just skim over it with no real understanding.
But I don’t want to do that tonight.
Paul is preaching to both Jews and Gentiles, and he’s showing that there’s no difference between them in the eyes of God—He has elected people from both groups to salvation (Rom. 2:11; Gal. 3:28).
The nation of Israel has been given national advantages in that they have the Law and the prophets, but as far as salvation is concerned they’re all the same.
Tonight he continues along these lines, and to help us understand the terms he uses in chapter 11, I want to revisit a couple of passages. First concerning the definition of “Israel” in regard to genealogy:
They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants (Rom. 9:6-7).
So, being a part of Israel isn’t based on genealogy; lineage isn’t a factor in salvation. Neither is being a circumcised Jew:
For he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God (Rom. 2:29).
Paul has been arguing against nationalism because the Jews thought they were saved because of their DNA. True “Israel” and true “Jews,” Paul says are those who are inward Jews, not outward and physical Jews.
These inward Jews, as we’ve read in Romans 8-10, and as we’ll read tonight, are according to God’s sovereign choice in election.
Chapter ten ends by saying that the people of Israel did hear and know, but they rejected. They’ve rejected because they are only Jews outwardly; they were not given the gift of faith, and they were not chosen by God for salvation. He declares that “all the day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people” (10:21).
This isn’t a weak god who waits with open arms hoping that someone will love him back. This verse shows us that those who are rejected by God are judged in righteousness because they reject God.
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He?
This is a question the listening Jews are asking. If God totally rejects the Jews, then He hasn’t kept His promise to Abraham, has He?
So look what he says:
May it never be!
No way. God would never go back on His faithfulness. Paul uses himself as evidence that God hasn’t terminated the covenant with Abraham:
For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
God promised that Abraham would be the father of many nations, and Paul is just one example of the fulfillment of that promise. But then look at what he says: