Romans 11:1-4

In Romans 11:1-4 Paul asks about God’s treatment of His people. If Israel’s rejection of the gospel was somehow both consistent with God’s eternal plan and Israel’s own choosing as Paul has just described in the last two chapters, then does this mean that Israel’s fate is settled, and there is no possibility of restoration? He answers the question emphatically with a big NO. It doesn’t mean that Israel has been permanently cast away. “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.”

Paul is clear first of all that he is included in this discussion as one of God’s chosen people. And he is clear that the issue is not a problem on God’s part, but rather the decision of a significant portion of God’s people who have chosen to reject the Messiah. It’s not a surprise. Elijah wrote of the problem generations earlier. This isn’t new to Paul’s day, nor ours today. God has always been faithfully waiting for people to come and receive what He has prepared for them. “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?”

Elijah got to a place where he was so frustrated he actually prayed against his own people. Paul finds himself in a similar place to the prophet. Elijah thought that God had cast off the nation and he was the only one left serving the Lord. But God showed him that there was in fact a substantial remnant – though it was only a remnant, it was actually there. Often it may seem like we are the only ones who are connected to and serving God. But that is never really the case. There is always a remnant. “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.”

We often think that God needs a lot of people to do a great work, but He often works through a small group, or through a group that starts out small. God is looking for a group of committed people to use. He doesn’t need an army.  He needs people that will trust and obey. He does all the heavy lifting – we merely need to be willing to follow and do things His way. Though not many Jews in Paul’s day embraced Jesus as Messiah, a remnant did and God will use that small group in a big way. In fact, He changed the world through 11 men who followed the Messiah! “But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” There was a remnant and that was all God needed in Elijah’s day, as well as for Paul and for us today!

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