God’s Mercy on Israel.
Has God Rejected Israel? (Romans 11: 1-10)
Paul has shown that God has been faithful to his promises to Israel. He starts this chapter with a question. Has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? The answer to this question is “By no means”. Jewish people had the opportunity to receive Christ but they have rejected Christ. So God is not the one who has been unfaithful in his promise. Paul shows that this rejection is not total, but partial. Also even this partial rejection of Israel is not final, but only temporary. Paul shows his own salvation as proof of God’s present election. Although Israel broke the covenant relationship with God, He remains faithful in His promises. There were always few Jews who followed Jesus. He refers us to the Old Testament story of prophet Elijah to prove God's faithfulness. During Elijah's time , many Jews had rejected God. Yet God in His mercy preserved seven thousand men for Himself. The same was true in Paul's time also. Paul testifies that there is a remnant like himself according to the election of grace. Just because most Jews were rejecting Jesus does not mean that all of them had rejected Jesus. Salvation is a free gift from God. God has shown grace to undeserving remnants. This should give hope to Israel. Israel sought righteousness through works but they failed to receive it. If works are added to grace, then it no longer is grace (11:6). Israel refused the way of faith. They failed to recognize Jesus as their Messiah. Thus God gave them temporary spiritual blindness and deep sleep that they would not believe him (Isaiah 29:10).
Israel’s Rejection is not Permanent: (Romans 11: 11-24)
Paul again asks the question “Did Israel fall beyond recovery”? The answer is, "Certainly not"! One of the purposes of their fall was to make His salvation available to the gentiles. “Jesus came to his own and his own received him not” (John 1:11). Their stumbling has a bright side. Even though Jews rejected Christ, Gentiles have received him. This makes Jews jealous (Romans 11:11). Paul’s argument is that, if Israel’s failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will be the blessings of the world when Israel finally accepts their Messiah. Being an apostle to Gentiles, Paul wants to see more Jews getting saved, so that more Gentiles will be saved. If Israel’s rejection of Christ brought reconciliation of the world, her reception of their Messiah will bring great revival as well (Ezekiel 37:1-5). Paul warns Gentiles through the metaphor of an olive tree. Israel is the nation in which salvation was rooted. Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). However, some of the branches were broken off through unbelief. The Gentiles, being wild olive branches, are grafted into good olive. Now the wild branches share nourishment from the root of a good olive tree. If it had not been for the grace of God, Gentiles would never have been grafted into good olive. So Gentiles should not boast about their salvation. They are just a branch and not the root. Paul’s argument is that, if God was willing to graft Gentiles to good tree; it will be much easier for Him to put the natural branches back into their place. How thankful we must be for the gospel that saves us!
The Mystery of Israel’s Restoration: (Romans 11:25-36)
Paul now unfolds the mystery hidden throughout history. He wants the Gentiles to know the mystery previously unknown to them about God’s plan for Israel (11:25). Israel's spiritual blindness is only partial. There is only a remnant saved until the complete number of Gentiles comes to Christ (Acts 15:14). When the complete number of Gentiles has been fulfilled, the Lord will remove the blindness of Israel. And so all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26; Isaiah 59:20, 21). This does not mean every Israelite will be converted simply on the basis of their ethnicity. No one is ever saved without a personal relationship with Christ. Many Jews do not believe the gospel. Yet they are still God’s chosen people because of His promises to their fathers (Jeremiah 31:33). For God’s gifts and calling can never be withdrawn. What God promised, He will perform. Paul’s argument is that if God has shown mercy to undeserving Gentiles, who are we to say that God cannot show mercy to the Jews again? The whole world is guilty before God and in need of His mercy. God desires to have mercy on all because mercy is his heartbeat. He shows mercy to anyone who looks to him with humble faith. Paul concludes this chapter with a great doxology (11:33-36). God has not broken his promise to Israel despite their rejection of Christ. He is trustworthy, he has not abandoned his chosen people. Paul describes God’s wisdom as unsearchable and fast finding out! No one can completely know the wisdom of God. God is working, regardless of how it may appear at times to understand. We can only stand amazed with joy and wonder at God and his gospel. God will be praised and worshiped in the end (Romans 11:36). For from him and through him and to him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen. What a merciful Savior! Do you know him as your Lord and Savior?