According to Paul’s argument, the extent of the rejection which he denies in Rm. 11:1-5 is not merely rejection but it is total rejection. He is not denying what is obvious, namely that the majority of Israelites are turning and have turned away from God in Christ, but he arguing here that Israel has not been rejected absolutely. This is clear in the context, because, one, as we saw yesterday, Paul uses his pedigree in conjunction with his personal faith as an argument to the contrary, and, two, in today’s verses, the apostle quotes the prophet Elijah who believed himself that Israel was absolutely rejected by God. He writes, and the apostle quotes and adds:
”Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace (vv. 11:3-5).
Therefore, the apostle’s point is the point that he puts in the form of a rhetorical question in v. 11: “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means!” In other words, God has not utterly destroyed physical Israel to the extent that they are beyond recovery. The apostle also makes this point in v. 23, “And even [the Jews], if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”
The testimony of God’s plan and his power is demonstrated throughout this chapter, for Israel’s disbelief is great, but God’s power is greater, for, as the text declares and as our eyes perceive, physical Israel seems to be all but decimated. But God, who is powerful enough to raise the dead, can and will do the same when he raises up from the dry bones of Israel those with Abraham’s flesh who worship Jesus Christ in Spirit and in truth. But for now, as it was in the apostle’s and Ezekiel’s days, Israel, depending on your thoughts of present Judaism, is virtually non-existent or is still rejecting the Messiah until that time when all who had been appointed to eternal life among the Gentiles have believed.
Categories: Fridy Night Bible Study