There is confusion today about the importance of the nation of Israel. This is true even for the follower of Jesus. Yet, the Bible reminds us that God still has a plan and a purpose for the nation of people that are descendants of Abraham.
The Apostle Paul’s focus in Romans 11 is upon God’s plan for the Jewish people. There were questions back then, just like there are today, of why the nation of Israel is so important. It is in this chapter that Paul reminds those that would write off Israel because they have rejected Jesus as their Messiah that God has not given up on them. Here are four reasons given that God has not rejected Israel.
Paul open the chapter with a rhetorical question, “I ask, then, has God rejected his people?” (Romans 11:1a) It seems that it is popular to hate Israel. There are many different motivations and arguments culturally. We have even seen a distancing from Israel in those professing followers of Jesus. One of the main arguments is the belief that the church has replaced God’s work with Israel. Yet Paul reminds us that this is not accurate. He continues, “By no means!” (Romans 11:1b) It is important to remember that God has not forsaken His people and the promises that He has given them!
First evidence of this is Paul’s reminder that there are Jewish believers. “For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” (Romans 11:1c) Just as in Paul’s life, Jewish people today, are accepting Jesus as their Messiah. Paul then reminds us that God accomplishes what He promises, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” (Romans 11:2a) I personally find this encouraging. If God would not give up on the Jews then I can find strength and comfort in the fact that He will not reject me either. Paul then reminds us of the Lord’s word to Elijah, when he assumed that he was the last one true to the Lord in a secular culture. “Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”” (Romans 11:3–4) We are reminded that God is always working whether we see it or not! And last, we are now in an age of grace, “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:5–6)
So it is clear that God has not given up on the descendants of Abraham even though many have become hardened. The Apostle reminds us, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved,…” Romans 11:25–26a Just as the Lord will be faithful to Israel, He will also be faithful to us, even when secular culture rejects God’s people!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson