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Overview of Romans 11, Israel’s Future

22/02/2021

TableTalk Extra: Israel’s Future

Romans 11.

Throughout chapters 9-11 Paul says repeatedly that the Gospel is for both the Jew and the gentile, and that there is no difference in Christ, for all have sinned, and there is only one way of salvation. This is a theme which predominates in chapter II, and again Paul approaches the subject by a series of questions and answers…

Jews at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

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1 A Remnant that Remains! V1-10  Paul asks an opening question. ‘In the light of his previous arguments. can it then be concluded that God has cast away his people?’  Paul’s answer is a resounding NO! He uses three illustrations in this section of the chapter to establish the fact that God still loves Israel:-

  • Paul’s Testimony. This is a personal witness to what God can do! Romans 11:1-2 What a great way to begin a discussion ! Give a word of testimony!
  • God’s Tenderness.  This second proof is a theological matter. These were God’s people, whom He foreknew. They were the objects of His predestining love. 
  • Elijah’s Troubles! Now Paul turns to Biblical history to further his argument. Remember how after his defeat of Baal on Mt Carmel, Elijah had sunk into despair and had cried out to the Lord. “I only I am left.” Yet the Lord had reserved 7000 followers who had not bowed the knee to Baal! 

The point that Paul was illustrating is concisely stated in verse 5, Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Romans 11:5.  Paul has already stated that not all of Israel were true believers in Romans 9:6, Romans 10:21 But therre has always been a REMNANT OF FAITHFUL BELIEVERS in Israel! So it was in the OT, and so it is now!  V6-7, The remnant is the elect of Israel, those who have not sought salvation in works of righteousness, but have obtained it by the means of GRACE! 

  • Now Paul asks a second question! What then? Verse 7. How does all this theology apply to his day, and indeed to ours? In his day it forces him to a hard conclusion, that the righteousness that his people had sought so earnestly, they did not find, but that within their number there were those who did obtain it, and they did so because of sovereign grace; the rest however, were hardened against the gospel. So, while the Jews have been hardened they have not been completely rejected by God! But what does this all mean for us today? 
    • We can never judge a nation by its majority. Israel looked like an apostate backslidden nation, but there was always a faithful witness!  This seems to apply even in denominations. 
    • With God there is no blurring of issues. V6. Grace is grace and works is works. The issues here are clear, in black and white. Grace excludes works and works excludes Grace. 

2 A Rejection that can be Reversed

  • God’s Purpose in Israel’s Failures! V11 Paul has a three-fold argument here.
    • Through Israel’s fall salvation came to the gentiles! 
    • This blessing will make Israel envious, which will lead to her restoration. V14
    • The restoration of salvation to the Jews will be an ever-greater blessing to the other nations.V15 ,
  • Paul’s Portrayals of Israel’s Future. Paul uses more illustrations, this time to explain about the restoration of Israel, and the part of gentile Christians to that restoration. 
    • A loaf of bread. V16.  The first fruits of Israel were the godly patriarchs etc.
    • An olive tree. Israel is a tree with withered branches, but the roots remain.
    • The wild olive tree!  A wild olive has been engrafted into the tree! The Gentiles have been taken and engrafted into Israel. They should never boast about this, for just as branches were broken off so that they might be engrafted, they in turn could be removed, and replaced. So we should never despise or look down on the Jews. There is no room for anti-Semitic attitudes among believers.   

The good news for the Jewish people is that it is much easier to engraft back natural branches of the same species, than to engraft branches from a different species! If there is repentance among the Jews, and if they turn to Christ they will be saved and engrafted back onto the same tree from which they originally came! V24

  • Paul’s prophecy regarding Israel’s Faith.  11:25-26 So Israel is like a tree. There are some natural branches. and there are some engrafted branches. and there are going to be some re-engrafted branches. One day God will look at the whole tree and declare that it is complete. Only God knows when that will be, and just exactly what number the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ is, but all of His people together will a huge number, so large that a man could not count it!

Many Christians believe that before the Lord’s Return a number of Jews will turn to Christ and be saved, – not because of their Jewish roots, but because of the Saviour, who took their sins at Calvary.   The Jews of Paul’s days were the enemies of the Gospel. (V28) Paul himself suffered at their hands ! Yet he prayed for them! Many of the Jews remain enemies of the Gospel to this day. We too must continue to pray for them! God’s gifts to them, and His calling of them cannot be revoked! V29.  

The end is in sight! Paul has gone to great lengths to explain the position of Israel, past present and future. When he thinks of what the Lord has done, he can do nothing else but burst into a great song of praise to Him in the last few verses of this chapter;  All of God’s saving plan is based on His grace alone! We cannot give anything to God to earn salvation. It is of the Lord!  Romans chapters 9-11 are difficult chapters, but they give us a sound. understanding regarding God’s ancient people, past present and future, and they let us see where we fit in, along with them, in God’s wonderful plan, Perhaps we shall remember these chapters, and view the Jewish people differently from now on. We shall seek to pray for them, and to evangelise among them and to esteem them highly, as God Himself does. 

© Bob McEvoy, 2017.

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