Tod Kennedy, February 21, 2016
Romans 11 – God will regather Israel’s grace remnant for blessing
Israel’s temporary rejection, foreknown by God, will end with regathering and salvation
Paul concludes his comments about his beloved Israel. Though Israel is now under God’s discipline he has not rejected her. Even now God has a remnant of believers, while he hardens those who do not believe him and allows them to go their own way. Meanwhile God is working with Gentiles and many are being saved. The olive tree illustration teaches that Israel, the cultivated tree, had branches broken off and branches from the wild olive tree (Gentiles) were grafted in. The reason was unbelief by Israel and faith by the Gentiles. But the Gentiles must not become arrogant because of their blessings. When Israel believes God’s promise of righteousness through Christ, she will be grafted back into the olive tree. Meanwhile God continues his partial hardening of Israel until he has completed his work with the Gentiles. At that time all Israel, the believing remnant, will be saved. They are God’s choice beloved people. God wants to show mercy. Paul concludes with an exclamation that God’s wisdom, knowledge, judgments, and ways are rich with blessing and beyond our search. We cannot advise him or put him in our debt. All glory is God’s glory.
- Romans 11:1-10. God always preserves a grace remnant of Israel, a small number of people who understand grace and accept salvation through faith. Paul, an Israelite, is proof of that. His generation was like the days of Elijah, when only a portion of Israel believed the Lord. The Jews of Paul’s day were seeking God’s blessing by works, not faith, and so were hardened against the truth. Even so, God has not rejected Israel as his choice people.
- Romans 11:11-16. Israel stumbled over Messiah Jesus by unbelief, but her stumble was not a permanent fall. God used her stumble to focus his attention on Gentiles—Gentile’s salvation and their part (the church) in his kingdom, and by that to provoke Israel to the faith relationship to God. Eventually Israel will be brought back to life. Israel began holy with Abraham (the first piece and the root) and will remain holy (the lump and the branches).
- Romans 11.17-24. The olive tree illustration shows Israel to be the natural branches, some of which were broken off for unbelief, and Gentiles to be the wild branches which were grafted in for their faith. The wild branches share in the benefits that come from the root, but they must not be conceited because God can discipline them for unbelief. If the natural branches, Israel, believe God’s message he will graft them back and restore Israel to prominence after He completes His plan with the Gentiles.
- Romans 11.25-32. Paul has demonstrated that God can restore Israel. Now he says that God will restore Israel to prominence after He completes His plan with the Gentiles. The present hardening of Israel is partial and temporary. When God has completed the fullness of the Gentiles, Messiah will return to Jerusalem, save Israel spiritually and physically, fulfill his covenants to her, and bless her. They are God’s choice people (his priest nation) and he will not revoke his call of them. He will show mercy to Israel just as he has shown mercy to Gentiles.
- Romans 11:33-36. God’s wisdom, knowledge, judgments, and ways are rich with blessing and beyond our understanding. We cannot advise God nor deserve anything from him. God is infinitely wonderful and all glory belongs to him.