“As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-29).
Continued from My Roman Holiday: Romans 10.
“I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin” (Romans 11:1). Romans 11 is perhaps one of the strongest refutations, throughout scripture, that God is finished with Israel, or even that the church is now the Israel of God, and that all the promises to Israel now apply to the church, apart from Israel. No, Israel has not stumbled beyond recovery, as Paul, himself, is proof. After all, Paul’s credentials as a Jew were impeccable; he was an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin. “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me’? And what was God’s answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:2-6).
Romans 11, brings to mind Romans 8, specifically, Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” As a result of Israel’s rejection, the nation was set aside and the gospel went out to the Gentiles. In this sense, Israel’s loss has been the Gentiles’ gain, and now, if that is true, then how much more will Israel’s restoration result in rich blessing for the world. Israel will become the channel of blessing to all the nations when it turns back to the Lord. “If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either” (Romans 11:17-21). Paul goes on to reveal a mystery; that the future restoration of Israel is not a mere possibility, but rather, is a reality. Israel’s blindness is a temporary condition that will continue until the fullness of the Gentiles (i.e. the time when the last member will be added to the church). So, when Paul says that all Israel will be saved, he means all believing Israel; those who say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Romans 11 points toward the Second Advent of Christ; the time when the deliverer will come from Zion (Jeremiah 31:33; Isaiah 27:9). “As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-29).
Romans 11 is full of any number of other revelations and wonderful truths worth exploring, but I have written what I believe the Holy Spirit has guided me to write.
Romans 11 speaks into our lives today; the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God is beyond our understanding. For even what God reveals to man; our understanding can be likened to gazing into a mirror dimly (1 Corinthians 13:12). As I embark on my Roman holiday, I look forward to the journey ahead. Romans 11 affirms that God’s decisions are unsearchable; the ways in which He arranges creation, history, and redemption are beyond human comprehension. To God be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:36). Until next time, and Romans 12!
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