Remember what God said to Israel. Exodus 6:6-8 reads,
Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’
He also said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
And in Deuteronomy 14:2, God said, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
But the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, they tried to find salvation in the Law, and they refused to recognize Jesus as the one prophesied about, even though He fulfilled every prophecy. So, are they still God’s chosen? Does God’s promises to them still stand? Verses 1-10 of Romans 11 read,
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”
9 And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and bend their backs forever.”
Of course, the LORD did not reject His people! Through every terrible thing that they did and every horrific event that happened to them, they were never destroyed, there was always a remnant that was saved. The ones who were saved, were the ones who had faith and believed God. They were saved, not because they did anything to deserve mercy, but because God is graceful, He chose them. Remember in Romans 9, we spoke about God hardening hearts. He never stops calling, He just allows those who adamantly refuse to listen to stop hearing His call. That is what He did for most of Israel. They became ardent pursuers of their own righteousness through the Law instead of passionate pursuers of God. God spoke to them through His prophet Hosea and told them they were missing the mark by seeking to know the law and not Him, Hosea 6:1-6 reads,
“Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.”
4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that goes early away.
5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth as the light.
6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Knowing this about Israel, Christians can tend to get a bit prideful. We forget that they are examples for us. 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 says,
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
If you feel, you are better than them than take a look at yourself. We are no different and definitely no better than Israel. They had the law, the prophets, God spoke to them, adopted them, and Christ came through them (Romans 9:4-5). Yet, they sought the mitzvot, the commandments, the words of God rather than the Word of God. Don’t we do that? How many people measure themselves as good Christians because they take the Lord’s Supper once a week, go to church twice a week, were baptized, give God more than 10%, and wear a gold cross? God would prefer you know Him and love Him rather than your burnt offerings and sacrifices. Israel followed Judaism instead of seeking God, we seek Christianity instead of Christ. Who are we to judge anyone who has not come to Jesus, much less God’s very own chosen and treasured people? Yes, they messed up, so did we. But even their missteps brought blessings for the world. Verses 10-16 read,
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
Some people have anger and bitterness toward the lost and some people have a remarkable acrimony for the Jewish people. They even feel justified about their anti-Semitism. God is not an anti-Semite, He adores Israel as much as He adores you. One of the reasons, you as a gentile were given the opportunity to know Jesus was so that Israel would become jealous. God has always been THEIR God and they His people. God is jealous for them as He is for you (Exodus 34:14). It is the gentiles who were grafted in to Jesus, the Vine. How awesome, how wonderful would it be, if they who rejected God were to be grafted back in? It would be better for all of us! Just as Israel’s election by God and their rejection of God worked on behalf of your salvation, your salvation is working for Israel’s redemption. Salvation is from God, the Father calls, the Son did all the work, and the Spirit seals it. You were grafted in to God, not the other way around. He blesses you, nurtures you, and sustains you, not the other way around. God doesn’t need you! Acts 17:24-27 reminds us who God is.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
It is up to God who He will save, it is not up to us. Exodus 33:19 reads,
And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
So, let’s put the hostility toward the lost away, let’s stop considering ourselves better than the Jews. Verses 17-24 continue,
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root[c] of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
God has not forgotten them, He is still holding His hand out to them (Romans 10:21). His stretched out hand provokes an image of His parting of the Red Sea to rescue Israel from Egypt’s slavery. It is a call to redemption, an invitation to salvation, and a reminder that it is His power and will which save. Keep in mind His promises were for Israel before they were for you. Salvation is not an exclusive club, though to the world it can sure look that way. Verses 25-31 read,
Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness 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 banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
Israel wasn’t the only people to be disobedient. You were a sinner once too. You were ungodly and weak, an enemy of God, yet Christ died for you! He died for the whole world not just a few good people. Remember, there is no such thing as a good person without Jesus. Romans 5:6-11 reads,
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Praise God for His marvelous and astonishing grace! We have nothing to brag about except Jesus. God saved us, we couldn’t save us. He will save more too. We can’t decide who He will save by grace and who will experience His wrath. When every gentile who will come to Jesus has come Israel will be saved. I cannot grasp the meaning of this beautiful secret, this magnificent enigma. I only know that God is awesome. He made promises to Israel and He has not withdrawn them. He called Israel and He has not withdrawn the call. He chose Israel and this awesome blessing is irrevocable. What does that mean? Irrevocable means “not able to be changed, reversed or recovered; final.” In verses 33-36 Paul praised God this way,
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Believer, His call on your life is just as immutable! His promises, blessings, and gifts are irreversible and permanent. Everything you are is because of God! Everything is His and in His richness, He has poured abundantly into you! We are not recognized as His by our elitist attitude, but by our love (John 13:35). We are not saved by some act such as cutting our bodies, but by His wounds (Isaiah 53:5). Believer, consider God’s grace today and extend that grace to others. Imitate Christ and remember His hand is still stretched out to the lost.