Summary: This is the twelfth message in a series over Romans 6-11. The series examines how we now live under God's grace. This message is the first of a two part message that examines God's plan for Israel.
Has God rejected the nation of Israel? That’s the million dollar question, Christians and politicians struggle with what exactly to do about Israel. To be honest, this is a question that I struggle with. However, I take comfort that I am in good company because the apostle Paul struggled with this as well. Has God washed His hands of the nation of Israel? In no way would I ever suggest that Israel does not have the right to exist. The question I struggle with is has Israel fulfilled their part in God’s plan or is there still something more. Let’s review what we have learned up to this point. In chapter 9, we learned that God had chosen Israel as His possession and gave them tremendous blessings. In chapter 10, Paul showed us that God rejected Israel because they chose to reject the Messiah. Now as we arrive in chapter 11, Paul will address exactly what the future holds for Israel. So, once again I will ask you to check your preconceived ideas at the door and approach this text with an open mind. Although I confess that I do not have this all figured out, I think Paul sheds some important light on some of these nagging questions. Let’s dive into Romans 11 and discover what insights we can learn.
I. Putting the important issues into perspective.
A. An overview of Israel’s history.
1. 2100 BC: Abram heeds God’s call and moves from Mesopotamia to Canaan; the nation is begun with Abram.
2. 1876 BC: Abraham’s seventy descendants go from Canaan to Egypt to escape a famine; they are enslaved by the Egyptians for nearly four hundred years. During this time they become a people numbering perhaps two million.
3. 1446 BC: God redeems his people from slavery and establishes them as a nation at Mt. Sinai by giving them a complete civil, liturgical, and moral code of laws by which they are to govern themselves. The land of Canaan, promised originally to Abraham, is to be their home forever.
4. 1400 BC: The Israelites under the leadership of Joshua begin the conquest of the Promised Land.
5. 1380-1050 BC: Israel was ruled by different judges during this period.
6. 1050 BC: Saul is anointed by Samuel as the first king over Israel.
B. Israel’s chaotic existence.
1. Israel undoubtedly had ups and downs. They were constantly displaying disobedience to God and occasionally adopting the pagan worship practices of the nations around them which would lead to God disciplining the people.
2. 931 BC: Rehoboam becomes king. The northern tribes revolt and the kingdom is divided. From here on, the northern tribes are called Israel and the southern tribes are called Judah.
3. 722 BC: The ten northern tribes of Israel are decimated by the Assyrians, with a large portion of the population carried into captivity in Assyria.
4. 586 BC: The capital of the nation, Jerusalem, is destroyed by the Babylonians, and the population of the two southern tribes is carried into captivity in Babylon.
5. 538–432 BC: Groups of exiles return from Babylon and rebuild Jerusalem. The nation endures four hundred years of conflict and infighting.
6. 331 BC: Alexander the Great conquers the land of Israel.
7. 166-129 BC: The Maccabean revolt and time of Jewish independence.
C. Israel in Paul’s day.
1. Israel had been under Roman rule since Pompey conquered the territory in 63 BC.
2. The Jewish people accepted their freedom in both their governing system, and in maintaining their own traditions, yet the Roman government required that everything be ultimately subject to Roman authority.
3. The Jewish religious and governing system was divided between two parties:
a. The Pharisees: the people’s party, taught the law and traditions of Israel’s patriarchs, and were strictly conforming to Jewish law.
b. The Sadducees: the wealthy and conservative leaders who rejected the traditions in favor of political and religious cooperation with the Romans.
4. The Jewish population as a whole resented the Roman occupation and were very unwilling subjects.
II. Focusing on the key issues in our text.
A. The question for Paul is, has God rejected Israel?
1. The situation is that God has not rejected Israel, Israel has made the choice to reject God.
2. God doesn’t operate the way we do. Throughout the Bible we see God continuing to remain faithful to His promises despite human unfaithfulness.
3. The obvious evidence for this is the fact that there have been many Jewish people including the apostle Paul who have come to faith in Jesus Christ.
4. We need to understand that Paul is not thinking of the Jews as a nation but as individuals.
a. The nation of Israel has fulfilled their role in God’s plan, so the idea of rejection is that they no longer have a role in God’s plan.