Read Romans 11
The Remnant of Israel
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. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what 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.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”
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 forever.”
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
All Israel Will Be Saved
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way 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.”
28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
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 counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
In today’s chapter, we see a common lie some people believed that God rejected His people (v. 1). There’s a sense of doubt as to whether the gospel story of redemption applies to everyone. Even as Christ followers, we’ve all felt the same doubt at some point. We can relate to the sentiment of the people in Romans 11 or, more personally, in Mark: “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). That can be easy to do when others’ hearts are hardened (v. 7) or given to a “spirit of stupor” (i.e., lacking sensibility; v. 8). Rather than believing “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (v. 33), we “trade God’s truth for a lie” (Romans 1:25) and doubt God’s plan.
What do we believe instead at times? That we have been rejected. We tell ourselves: “God needs me to try harder because of all the times I’ve sinned.” “God is good, but I know how this story ends. I’ll be back to the bottle, pantry, videos, and memories that haunt me.” Our sins can feel irreversible and irredeemable.
We think that about others, too. “It would take a miracle for that person to come to Christ. That city is too far gone. Our country is too far gone. That kid’s mistake will haunt him the rest of his life.” Others’ sins can seem irreversible and irredeemable.
When we see sin, especially repeatedly, our focus can shift from God’s perspective to our own. And what perspective can serve ourselves best? What can feed our sinful nature most in those doubtful moments? Punishing ourselves to gain a sense that we’ve paid the price. Shaming ourselves in an attempt to motivate ourselves to pull it together. Punishing and shaming others to make ourselves feel better or more virtuous.
Instead of taking that path, Paul teaches us in today’s chapter to embrace the gospel. We are to remember God’s answer to Elijah (v4), God’s grace (v. 6), kindness (v. 22), mercy (v. 30, 32) and his glory (v. 36). We need to read Romans 11 and know God’s plan is at work around us. Even when it is hard to see, God is at work.
- What do you believe about yourself? Do you believe in the saving grace of the Gospel?
- What do you believe about others? Do you believe God has a plan for others, even when they are sinful?
- How can you remind yourself to see the world through God’s eyes?
God, help me trust in your plan for myself and others. Help me know and believe you are in control. Thank you for redeeming me and your people. Amen.
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