Romans

Romans 11:1-32 – What about Jews and their future?

WHAT ABOUT THE JEWS AND THEIR FUTURE?

 

Romans 11v1-32.

 

So Far …

Paul is writing to the Christians in Rome // made up of people from Jewish and Gentile backgrounds // whenever two people or groups of people are brought together from different cultures or backgrounds there will be tensions and misunderstandings even if they are all Christians!!

 

Remember that Paul is dealing with the issue of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in God’s plan.

Some Gentile-Christians who were saying that God had finished with Israel – the Church had replaced Israel in God’s plan.

There were some Jewish-Christians who were saying that Israel, the Jewish Law, was still indispensable and a person had to become a Jew before he/she could become a Christian.

Paul is arguing on two fronts … he disagrees with both of these positions …. the issue he tackles in ch.11 is, “What, if any, future does Israel have in the plan of God?”

In a broad sense this is one of the issue Paul has been addressing in the whole letter // but esp. in 9-11 and then in chapter 11 reaches the climax of his discussion about Israel in the plan of God.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

Chapter 11 is not an easy passage of scripture // it surfaces some difficult issues // it has caused much debate in Christian circles about the future of the Jewish people, the modern State of Israel, the political situation in the Middle East and the End Times!!

 

Does this chapter have anything to say about these issues?? Yes and No!

We like to have all the answers and we like to have then neatly packaged and labeled and stacked in tidy rows // it is never like that and there often appear to us to be loose treads //partly because God doesn’t give us a detailed blueprint of his universal plan but just what we need to know // further, even what he does tell us we do not fully understand because we are both finite and sinful.

 

In this chapter Paul asks and answers two basic questions relating to the Jews.

The situation is that the majority of the Jews had rejected their Messiah, Jesus. In Chapter 9 Paul pointed of that God is sovereign and he chooses whom he pleases to be his people BUT you can’t blame God for Israel’s reject [ch.10] says Paul they were stubborn and disobedient.

 

Does this therefore mean that God has rejected all the Jews? [v1]

Is this rejection of the Jews permanent and final? [v11]

These are the two questions Paul asks // the answers to both is an emphatic NO!

 

1. HAS GOD REJECTED THE JEWISH PEOPLE? [v.1-10]

 

Romans 11:1

1 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. (NIV)

 

Paul is adamant that God has not turn his back on Israel – How can he be so sure?

He gives 4 reasons:

1) PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Romans 11:1 ….. I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. (NIV)

– Paul is one of God’s chosen people – if there is any proof that God has not totally rejected the Jews it is Paul himself – a persecutor and opponent of Christ and his people until his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus.

 

2) THEOLOGICAL TRUTH

Romans 11:2 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. …..

Paul has reminded us in this very letter that God is true to his word – that he made a covenant with his people, Israel – and God’s promises are unbreakable!

These are his people whom God ‘foreknew’ – who he elected/chose in advance.

He has made clear in ch. 8 that foreknowledge implies love and salvation.

The majority of the Jews may have rejected Jesus but a remnant have not – proof that God has not rejected his fore-ordained people!!

 

3) HISTORICAL EXAMPLE

Romans 11:2-4 ……… Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah — how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Elijah was a prophet in Israel at the time of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel – pagan religions dominated the country of Israel – in a dramatic episode Elijah confronts the prophets of Ball // with God’s help wins – he incurs the wrath of Jezebel and becomes the most wanted man in Israel.  Hiding in a cave on Mt. Horeb he informs God that he is the only one left who is faithful to God!

No’, says God, ‘there are actually 7000!!’

God always has his faithful remnant – //this leads Paul to the present circumstances of the early Church.

 

4) 1st CENTURY CIRCUMSTANCES

Romans 11:5 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. (NIV)

There were many hundreds of Jewish Christians in the 1st C. Acts 21:20

            20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, […..PAUL’S ARRIVAL IN JERUSALEM]

They were still in the minority but there were many of them. Paul makes the point that these Jews are God’s people not because of their natural birth into the Jewish race but because of their spiritual birth BY GRACE.

This remnant is a chosen remnant due to God’s sovereignty and his grace!!

 

So as there can be no confusion about this he adds v.6

Romans 11:6 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

We cannot in anyway work for salvation – the only way to be right with God // to be a Christian // to be a member of God’s Kingdom is by HIS grace! Because he is kind and generous and forgiving //IF there was any work there it could not for that reason be grace!!

 

WHY DID THE MAJORITY OF JEWS MISS OUT?

Romans 11:7-10

7 What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8 as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,

eyes so that they could not see

and ears so that they could not hear,

to this very day.”

It may seem at first sight that their hard-hearts and deaf ears were God’s doing – but in ch.9 with the example of pharaoh, has already shown us that this hardening was as a result of their rejection of God. When people continue to reject God he gives them over to their own stubbornness and they loose any spiritual sensitivity they may have had!

 

9 And David says:

“May their table become a snare and a trap,

a stumbling-block and a retribution for them.

10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,

and their backs be bent for ever.” (NIV)

Table – often a symbol of home, community, well-being … God gave Israel may blessings // a table spread before them // but in rejecting God’s offer – primarily in Jesus Christ – those blessings became a burden and a stumbling block.

SO TODAY – receive Christ and experience God’s salvation or reject him and incur God’s anger and judgement!

 

LESSONS – God is faithful // even when his people are disobedient he doesn’t reject totally because he is faithful

For the Church – gives confidence for the future – God will never reject

For the individual – God’s grace is always available to those who respond                  to his love

 

2. IS GOD’S REJECTION OF THE JEWS PERMANENT?

 

Romans 11:11

11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! …..

 

Yes God has rejected all except a remnant BUT that partial rejection is not permanent or final.

 

From vv.11-27 Paul is trying to make one basic point which he comes at from different angles – // he then draws it all together in vv.28-32.

 

We can’t look at the detail //will get overall gist and then look at a key but fairly controversial verse, viz. v26 ‘“And so all Israel will be saved…”

 

1) [v.11 -12] THE MUTUAL BENEFIT JEWS AND GENTILES ARE TO EACH OTHER IN THE ECONOMY OF GOD.

 

[read v.11-12]

 

  • Israel’s transgressions //rejection by God in part
  • Salvation then for the Gentiles // in a greater way than before as it was possible for Gentiles to become part of Israel in OT.
  • Israel’s jealousy leading to their return/‘fulness’
  • The result will be greater riches // not explained here

 

Things aren’t always as they seem says Paul // Israel’s rejection may seem to be a tragedy, and in a real sense it is, BUT God is not caught by surprise and this situation will ultimately bring rich blessing to many // including many Jews!!

 

God is never caught off guard // Political commentators, politicians, pollster may be surprised by landslide parliamentary elections but not God! What to us may be pleasing or displeasing depending on your view point, does not influence God’s overall plan.

While Paul’s heart is breaking over the rejection of his own people he can also see that God is moving things for maximum blessing and for his glory.

 

2) [v.13-16] PAUL’S PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT IN THE REJECTION-ENVY-RECONCILIATION PROCESS

 

[read v.13-16]

 

  • Israel’s rejection again
  • reconciliation of the world
  • Israel’s envy and then their acceptance //previous section ‘fulness’
  • ‘..life from the dead.’ //  for many

 

Israel rejected Christ // following this rejection the gospel came to the Gentiles with great blessing // his hope is that this will make the Jews envious so that they will turn to their Jesus // if this happens the worldwide blessing would be unimaginable like “..new life from the dead..”

 

If God could bring blessing to the world through Israel’s rejection then how much greater will be the blessing through Israel’s acceptance and fulness??

 

3) [v.17-24] JEWS AND GENTILES ARE ULTIMATELY JOINED TOGETHER BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO THE SAME ROOT.

 

[read v17-24]

 

  • natural branches broken off // Jews rejected because of unbelief
  • wild branches grafted in // Gentiles receive God’s blessing by faith
  • natural branches can be re-grafted // Israel can return by faith
  • wild branches can be broken off too // no room for complacency //however, not that those who truly belong to Christ can ever be rejected, BUT their continuance or perseverance is the hallmark of God’s genuine children.

 

There is a warning and a promise in these verses:

Warning // since the natural branches were broken off the wild one could be too. The Gentiles could be rejected like the Jews!!

Promise // since the wild branches were grafted in the natural one could be too. The Jews could be accepted like the Gentiles so the is no need for despair!!

 

 

4) [v.25-27] THE REVEALED MYSTERY OF GOD’S GRACE!

 

[read v.25-27]

 

  • Israel’s partial and temporary hardening
  • ‘..full number of Gentiles ..’ // they have benefited from Israel’s  hardening
  • salvation of ‘all’ Israel
  • NB>>>{Grand finale of blessing to all} –omitted here but comes in v.32!!!

 

Romans 11:26 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

 

And so .. refers not to the timing of Israel’s salvation but to the manner of it!!

Jews will be saved in the same way that Gentiles will be saved – //faith in Jesus.

 

Paul gives no indication of when this salvation will take place // he is use broad brush strokes.

 

ALL – not every individual Jew // not universalism // Paul would not be saddened by Israel’s rejection if that were the case.

 

He sees God working out his purposes in Jews and Gentiles // he is confident that there will be spiritual fruit among the Jews as well, matching that among the Gentiles. He thinks of two great halves of humanity, Jews and Gentiles, gradually moving towards an great complimentary fulfillment, each bound up with each other. The ‘Fulness of the Gentiles’ balances ‘all Israel will be saved’ and together they make up the ALL MEN [v.32] upon whom God would have mercy!

This ALL MEN is not an ALL without exception [not univeralism] but an ALL without distinction – God has no favourites except those who come to him by faith!!

 

3. FINAL SUMMARY [v.28 – 32]

 

This brings to a conclusion ch.9-11 –

9v4-5 listed all the benefits and promises God gave Israel – and God does not change his mind

Romans 11:29 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (NIV)

 

 

 

v.30-31 – Mercy follows disobedience

  • disobedient Gentiles have received God’s mercy
  • NOW disobedient Israel may receive God’s mercy too

 

Ultimately EVERYONE is in the prison of disobedience so that God can have mercy on all who believe // NOT an ALL without exception but an ALL without distinction.

 

 

LESSONS IN RESPECT TO ISRAEL

 

1) God has one plan of salvation for Jews and Gentiles NOT a two track salvation – salvation is only through Christ!

 

2) Israel in not the Centre of God’s plan of Salvation – while the Jews, esp. the Patriarchs are important to the founding of the People of God – it is plain from Paul that CHRIST is the root to which the People of God must be attached [cf John 15 vine and branches]

 

3) Modern Israel – second half of v.26

Romans 11:26-27 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion;

he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.

27 And this is my covenant with them

when I take away their sins.” (NIV)

“The deliverer will come from Zion;- refers to Christ’s first coming —

This deliverer will establish God’s covenant which is the promised forgiveness of sins -// Paul has already made the point that not all Israel is Israel [9v6] // this has come to Jews and Gentiles //nothing is said of a political Nation or of a return to the land //remember in Paul days there were probably more Jews living outside Palestine than inside.

 

4) God still has a plan for the Jews – they have not lost all distinctiveness in God’s plan.

 

5) The title “people of God” applies to those you have come to Christ by faith both Jews and Gentiles and not to Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

LESSONS IN RESPECT TO CHURCH AND INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIANS

 

1) Being God’s people, like Israel in OT, leaves no room for complacency. That was the error Israel made. When the Church ceases to live by faith and tries to survive on past experience, or tradition, or liturgy, or legalism it is in grave danger of  becoming a ‘branch that is broken off” //that the WARNING!!

 

2) THE BLESSING // God’s plan will not fail – he always has a remnant – church may decline in certain areas BUT as a whole the worldwide Church will continue to increase Until there are people from every tribe and tongue and nation and language to stand before God’s throne and praise Him.

 

3) MERCY // always available to ALL – the disobedient and rejected included – SO no matter who you are or what you have done God’s mercy and blessing in available to you IF you come to Christ by Faith.

 

THUS //Paul seeing God’s great plan of salvation for ALL people and that God has not rejected Paul’s fellow-Jews completely or permanently  breaks out in praise to God ….

Romans 11:33-36

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments,

and his paths beyond tracing out!

34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counsellor?”

35 “Who has ever given to God,

that God should repay him?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.

To him be the glory for ever! Amen. (NIV)

 

 

ISRAEL: What place in God’s plan?

 

Romans 11:1-32

 

1. HAS GOD REJECTED ALL JEWISH PEOPLE?

[v.1-10]

       “NO!” – says Paul from…

               Personal experience

              ‚ Theological Truth

              ƒ Historical Example

              „ 1st Century Circumstances

 

2. IS GOD’S REJECTION OF THE JEWS PERMANENT?

[v.11-27]

“NO” says Paul, “God’s plan includes  Jews & Gentiles”

 

       v.11-12  The Mutual benefit that Jews and Gentiles

                     are to each other in the economy of God.

                            Israel’s sin / rejection

                            Salvation for the Gentiles

                            Israel’s jealousy  / then fulness

                            resulting greater riches

 

       v.13-16  Paul’s personal involvement in the

                     Rejection-envy-reconciliation process.

                            Israel’s rejection

                            Reconciliation to the world

                            Israel’s envy / then acceptance

                            ‘… life from the dead.’ for many

 

       v.17-24 Jews and Gentiles are ultimately joined

                     together as they belong to the same root.

                            natural branches broken off / Jews

                            wild branches grafted in / Gentiles

                            natural branches can be ‘re-grafted’

                            wild branches could be broken off

 

       v.25-27 The revealed mystery of God’s grace.

                            Israel’s partial and temporary hardening

                            ‘… full number of Gentiles …’

                            salvation of ‘all Israel’

                            (Grand finale of blessing to all – v.32)

 

3. THE FINAL SUMMARY.                                                [v.28-32]

      

       v.28-29 God does not withdraw his promises.

 

       v. 30-32 There is always mercy for the disobedient.

                      Disobedient Gentiles have received God’s mercy

                      Now disobedient Jews may received mercy too

      

Ultimately ALL are in the prison of disobedience and mercy is available to ALL without distinction

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