I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. — Romans 11:1
Lara Rosen, a Jewish woman in one of our Apostolic Faith congregations, tells how God’s love reached out to her and answered the questions that troubled her searching heart. She testifies, “I am a Jew. Raised by two Jewish parents, I was taught to believe the Jewish religion. However, the observance of Sabbath and other traditions did not possess any value for me. While at times I went through the motions of being ‘religious’ by attending temple, I did not feel any comfort, love, joy, or happiness. Finally, I stopped doing even that.
“All along I was looking for peace and happiness. However, even when I went to parties and had a good time socializing, the fun I had and the joy I felt were gone when I got home. I would realize that I hadn’t progressed at all in my search. I would be left with an empty feeling inside, and knew I wanted something more.
“One winter, I began to take a hard look at myself, and was very disappointed with what I saw. While I had never considered myself a bad person, many of the things I had chosen to take part in left hurt inside. To make matters worse, I recognized that those things could have had a lasting effect on my life. The pain I felt became so severe that all I could do was cry.
“Then I remembered a friend. She is a Christian, and I knew she found comfort through the Bible and prayer. Since it worked for her, I thought I would give it a try. I happened to have a Bible, so I read chapter 15 from the Book of Luke. The following day, I decided that I really needed to talk about this problem with my friend. It was a Friday evening and there was a service at her church. We decided that I would go to church with her and then we would go out afterward to talk. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about going to church, but reluctantly said yes, hoping that I would feel better after talking with her.
“God works in mysterious ways. The preacher that night read Luke 15, the very chapter I had read the night before. Having no real knowledge of the New Testament, that made an impact on me. After the service, when my friend and I went out, again it seemed all I could do was cry. The pain had built up inside of me so much that in my mind there was no solution. I had made my mistakes and now I was to suffer the consequences. My friend, however, had another answer. She began telling me about salvation, explaining that the only way to peace was through Jesus Christ. She said I needed to get right with Him, and I decided to try that.
“Not knowing how to pray, my prayer was simple, but Jesus came into my life and made a real change. All the pain disappeared and I felt so new, so alive! I had never believed in Jesus Christ. In fact, I was adamantly against Him, but that night He made a believer out of me. He saved my soul and gave me everything I had been longing for: calming peace, happiness, love, and lasting security.
“Jesus is just as real to me today. I am simply amazed at how He has taken care of both the big and little problems in my life. He is so good to me. He comforts me, encourages me, and is my Friend. I do not want anything to come between us because nothing the world has to offer could have filled the void in my life that Jesus filled in a moment.”
Today’s text opens with Paul’s rhetorical question, “Hath God cast away his people?” The Apostle’s answer was a resounding “God forbid.” Though Israel had rejected God, Paul made it clear that there would always be a remnant of Israel in the Church. God still loved the Jewish people. Lara Rosen is living proof of Paul’s assertion. She found her Messiah, and in Him, the peace and healing her heart was longing for. Someday, as Paul went on to state, Israel as a whole will receive their Messiah and will be God’s own people once again.
We serve a God whose mercy is extended to all. Paul closed this chapter with a heartfelt outpouring of praise for the mercy that is extended to both Jew and Gentile: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”
In this final segment of Paul’s three-chapter explanation of Israel’s role in God’s plan, the Apostle focused on Israel’s eventual restoration, and concluded that the Jew’s rejection of God resulted in the extending of the Gospel message to the Gentiles.
Paul began chapter 11 by posing an anticipated question: had the Jews’ rejection caused God to completely abandon His chosen people? In verses 1-10, Paul cited three examples to show that despite Israel’s continued disobedience, God had not terminated His relationship with them. First, Paul asserted that his own personal relationship with God was proof that God’s mercy was still extended to Jews. Next, he pointed to the faithfulness of God and asserted that He would not disavow the promises made to Abraham, Moses, and David. Finally, he referenced the bleak national situation during the time of Elijah which caused the prophet to feel he was the only believer left, yet God had preserved seven thousand men who had “not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.”
The theme of verses 11-24 is the Gentile opportunity which occurred after the Jewish rejection of the Gospel. Paul explained that God’s purpose in turning away from Israel was a desire to provoke them to jealousy as the Gentiles embraced what the Jews had refused. The “fullness” of Israel in verse 12 alluded to a coming restoration that will amount to a virtual resurrection from the dead. The Apostle looked ahead to the day when Israel will once again be the people of God, this time through faith in the shed Blood of Jesus Christ.
Paul used a dual illustration in verse 16 to show the eventual unity between Jews and Gentiles. His statement that “if the firstfruit be holy, the lump [mass of dough] is also holy” was a reference to the ancient tradition of giving God the first cake baked from the first wheat of the harvest (see Numbers 15:19-20). If that cake was acceptable to God, the whole of the harvest would be acceptable. Paul was likening the “firstfruit” to Israel, and the “lump” to the Gentiles. The second illustration — that of the root and branches — made the same point and was based upon the common Old Testament picture of Israel as a vine. Because the root (Israel) and the branches (the Gentile Christians) are all one plant, if the root is holy the branches are also holy. Paul expanded the metaphor in verses 17-18, warning the Gentiles that just as God did not spare the Jews when they lapsed into unbelief, neither would He preserve them unless they stood fast by faith.
In verses 25-32 the Apostle expanded on God’s promises of restoration for Israel. He foretold that after “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in,” that “all Israel” would be saved. The word “fulness” refers to the time when all Gentiles who will choose to believe on Christ have done so. The “mystery” (verse 25) is because the events foretold have not yet taken place; they will occur in the last days. The last part of verse 26 and verse 27 are a quote from Isaiah 59:20-21.
Paul ended this section with an outpouring of praise for the wisdom and knowledge of God (verses 33-36). In spite of human stubbornness and rejection, God’s eternal purpose would be fulfilled, and for this Paul articulated his overwhelming admiration.
(Hannah's Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. God’s plan of salvation
C. Illustrated by Israel’s history
3. Israel’s hope (11:1-36)
a. Some will understand and believe (11:1-10)
b. Way opened for the Gentiles (11:11-24)
c. Israel will be saved (11:25-32)
d. Doxology (11:33-36)
Although the Jewish people rejected their Messiah and failed in their role as the instrument of God’s blessing to the Gentiles, God did not forsake them. He has mercy toward all — both Jew and Gentile — who turn to Him in faith.