Romans Bible Study #35
The Oneness of God
Israel Is Not Cast Away
1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 “Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.” 4 But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” 5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; 8 just as it is written,
“GOD GAVE THEM A SPIRIT OF STUPOR,
EYES TO SEE NOT AND EARS TO HEAR NOT,
DOWN TO THIS VERY DAY.”
9 And David says,
“LET THEIR TABLE BECOME A SNARE AND A TRAP,
AND A STUMBLING BLOCK AND A RETRIBUTION TO THEM.
10 “LET THEIR EYES BE DARKENED TO SEE NOT,
AND BEND THEIR BACKS FOREVER.” NASB
The Loyal Minority
1-2Does this mean, then, that God is so fed up with Israel that he'll have nothing more to do with them? Hardly. Remember that I, the one writing these things, am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham out of the tribe of Benjamin. You can't get much more Semitic than that! So we're not talking about repudiation. God has been too long involved with Israel, has too much invested, to simply wash his hands of them.
2-6Do you remember that time Elijah was agonizing over this same Israel and cried out in prayer?
God, they murdered your prophets,
They trashed your altars;
I'm the only one left and now they're after me!
And do you remember God's answer?
I still have seven thousand who haven't quit,
Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish.
It's the same today. There's a fiercely loyal minority still—not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They're holding on, not because of what they think they're going to get out of it, but because they're convinced of God's grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.
7-10And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn't succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The "self-interest Israel" became thick-skinned toward God. Moses and Isaiah both commented on this:
Fed up with their quarrelsome, self-centered ways,
God blurred their eyes and dulled their ears,
Shut them in on themselves in a hall of mirrors,
and they're there to this day.
David was upset about the same thing:
I hope they get sick eating self-serving meals,
break a leg walking their self-serving ways.
I hope they go blind staring in their mirrors,
get ulcers from playing at god. The Message
Verse 1 - Want proof that God hasn’t rejected His people, front and center, look at me, says Paul, I am an ethnic Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin. He is a physical descendant of Abraham, it is obvious he is not talking “spiritual” or “church” here. He mentions his specific tribe.
Verse 2,3 - “whom He foreknew”, In Romans 8 it is us as believers whom He foreknew, so it is no accident that Paul uses this word. Remember the whole point of this section is, if it can be proven that God is not/will not keep His promises to Israel, who is to say God will keep His promises to us. Elijah, one of the “largest” characters in the Old Testament, was tired, fearful and discouraged, he looked around and all he could see was, “God has abandoned the nation, and I alone and left.”
Verse 4 - God’s response, “aaahhh poor baby, yes so sad for you” NOPE, “I have kept...” Again the Sovereign God speaks of His undeniable call, I have kept, is a precious, grace-filled phrase. Seven like you, no, 70 like you, no 7,000 like you, who have not bowed the knee to the false God.
Verse 5 - What He did back there, He is doing today. The same yesterday, today, forever. The immutability of God=He never changes. He is perfect, so it follows that He cannot change, otherwise that change, would be a move away from perfection. Hebrews 6:16-19 His promises are unchanging, we can rest/trust in them/Him. His truth is unchanging. Malachi 3:6
Verse 6 - “I have kept, for Myself..” There is not any “work” being done by the remnant to make them the remnant. It is all God, It is all grace!
Verse 7 - Again the reality that God has a plan, and in that plan there is hardening.
Verse 8 - In that plan Israel, falls short of their call, by the plan and purpose of God, and that opens a door to the gentiles.
Verse 9,10 - These verses seem so shocking, so much a “curse” that it took a while for them to make sense to me. But lets turn our minds to the One who “became a curse.” David was upset at those who were rejecting God. He was “defending God,” but ultimately God defended Himself not by carrying out the curse on those who reject Him, but by having His Son take the curse on Himself. I wonder how much of our defending God, would be shut down, if we listened to the Spirit who ‘might’ be saying, ‘Pray that God would choose that one, like He did Paul.’Also these two verses are part of an entire chapter. Yes, Israel, was ‘hardened,’ but it was for a purpose. Sometimes in Bible Studies it is easy to get “buried” in one or two verses, but often the answer is to look at the entire context. In this case the hardening is one step on the way through the story. The hardening opened the door for the gentiles, who then open the door back up for Israel, and all for God’s glory! Jeremiah 31:10-12
His emphasis on this passage was that hope, has no hope ‘in us.’ It has to be
God choosing, God preserving a remnant. Also that hope can only exist where there is no hope. If I could formulate a plan to ‘get out of it,’ there would be no need for hope. God is one, He is the God of wrath that hardens, and the God of mercy that preserves a remnant. The church needs to face up to the truth of its guilt and then repent. Election is by grace and that is the humiliation of the church. Those 7,000 that are preserved by God, are 7,000 miracles of mercy. We are no different from those that David and Isaiah are ‘cursing’ at the end of this section. “There but for the grace of God, go I.” is a good and true sentence.
God has Preserved a Remnant in Israel. Romans 11:1-10 1/12/03 #45
A. What are God’s plans for the people of Israel?
1. Some believe the Jews are God’s people and have an unconditional right to the
land. (Dispensationalism) Gen. 12:1f
2. Others believe because the Jews rejected Jesus the Messiah, the Church has
replaced Israel and inherited all their promises. (Covenant Theology). Gal. 3:29
(If anyone in this Bible Study still believes that, we need to start over)
B. Paul, in Romans chapters 9-11 addresses the question of God’s plan for Israel.
1. Israel’s falling away is according to God’s sovereign purpose in election. 9:1-29
2. Israel willfully rejected the gospel. 9:30-10:21
3. God’s rejection of Israel is neither total (11:1-10) nor final (11:11-32). 11:1-32
4. God’s plan for Israel displays His magnificent wisdom. 11:33-36
II. God’s rejection of Israel is not total: He is presently preserving a remnant. v. 1-6
A. Has God totally cast away His people? v. 1a
1. Why might one conclude God is finished with Israel? 9:31-32 10:3,21 Mt. 21:33f
2. May it never be!
B. Personal evidence: Paul himself is an Israelite of unquestioned pedigree. v. 1bPhil. 3:5 II Co. 11:22
1. If ever there appeared to a hopeless case, it was Saul of Tarsus. Ga. 1:13-14 I Tim. 1:13-15 Acts 9:1-2
2. God chose this Jew as His instrument of bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. v. 13
C. Theological evidence: God cannot reject His covenant people. v. 2a
1. Israel is foreknown (foreloved) according to God’s sovereign will.8:29Dt. 7:6-8 Amos 3:2 Gal. 4:9 Acts 2:23 I Pe. 1:1-2
2. Is Paul here referring to God’s concern for the elect within Israel or His interest
in the nation as a whole?
3. God has foreordained this people to privileges and blessings which cannot be
revoked. I Sam. 12:22 Ps. 94:14 135:4 Jer. 31:37 Ex. 4:22 19:6 Deut. 14:2 26:18
4. The hardening of the majority should not be interpreted as a complete rejection
of His people.
D. Historical evidence: God preserved a remnant in the days of Elijah. v. 2b-4
1. Israel’s present situation is like what occurred in Elijah’s day. v. 2b I Ki. 17-19
2. Elijah thought he was the last faithful Israelite. v. 3 I Ki. 19:9-10
Elijah implies that God is limited by man’s failures.
3. God declares that He is at work in Israel, in spite of human appearances. v. 4
4. God has faithfully preserved a remnant throughout the history of Israel, no
matter how widespread her apostasy and unbelief. 9:27 Is. 1:9 10:22 Jer. 23:3
31:7 Joel 2:32 Amos 5:15 Micah 2:12 4:5-7 7:18 Zeph. 3:13 Mal. 3:16
5. God’s promises to Israel are fulfilled in the remnant.
E. Contemporary evidence: God is presently preserving a remnant among His people
Israel . v. 5 9:27-29
1. Even though the majority rejected the Messiah, God saved many Jews in the
early church. Acts 2:41 4:4 21:20 John 1:11
2. God has continued to save a remnant from among the Jews throughout the
history of the church. III. God saves and hardens according to His sovereign good pleasure. v. 5b-10
A. The faithful remnant exists by God’s gracious choice. v. 5b-7
1. The 7000 in Elijah’s day were kept by God’s sovereign efficacious grace. v. 4
2. Grace and works are mutually exclusive. v. 6 Eph. 2:8-9
3. Those who obtained salvation were not those who sought it, but those who were
chosen by God. v. 7a 9:16 II Ti. 1:9
4. Those who claim God’s election is based upon God’s foreknowledge of our
worthy acts (even faith) undermine grace!
5. If you have been preserved from the world (Baal), it is God’s work! 12:1-2
B. The rest are hardened by God. v. 7
1. They refused to seek salvation in God’s way. 9:32 10:3
2. Many professing Christians make the same fatal error.
3. God has sovereignly and judicially hardened them. 9:18 Ex. 4:21
a. Hardening, like election, is God’s act. ) Our two
b. Hardening, unlike election, is deserved. ) truths
4. Israel’s disobedience has not frustrated God’s plan, but fulfills divine prophecy.
C. Israel’s present hardness is in keeping with their past history. v. 8-10Deut. 29:4 Isa. 6:9-10 29:10 Ps. 69:22-23 Mt. 13:14-15 Mark 4:12 Jo. 12:40
1. God gives them a spirit of stupor. v. 8 Isa. 29:10 6:9-10Mt. 13:14-15Mark 4:12
2. God brings a snare, a stumbling block, retribution, darkness and servitude upon
them . v. 9-10 Ps. 69:22-23 Ro. 15:3 John 2:17 15:25 Acts 1:20 Mt. 27:43
3. Even when God hardens Israel, He preserves a remnant through whom He will
bring great future blessing. Isa. 6:13 29:17
4. The existence of the remnant implies hope for the future.
IV. God’s rejection of Israel is not permanent: He has a plan for Israel’s future. v.11-12
A. Has Israel fallen beyond recovery? v. 11a
B. Israel’s transgression has led to the salvation of the Gentiles. v. 11b
C. The Gentiles will provoke the Jews to jealousy so that Israel might be restored to blessing. v. 11b
D. The fulness of Israel will result in even greater blessings to the world. v. 12
V. Concluding Applications.
A. Be prepared to be in the minority, even within the visible church.
B. God has preserved a faithful remnant of believers throughout church history.
C. God is doing far more than you may think! His faithfulness is not limited by human
faithlessness. Don’t despair. I Co. 15:58
D. Don’t harden yourself against God’s gracious offer of salvation.