In this chapter Paul will continue to enlighten the Romans (and us) on his feelings for the Israelites. First he clarifies that he is not saying that God has rejected the Israelites. “By no means! (v1) He gives his own credentials as an Israelite. Then he goes back in scripture to Elijah and how he appealed to God against Israel. And God’s reply.
“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.” Romans 11:4-5
Back in the days of Elijah, God worked through a remnant. Paul is pointing out when he says “at the present time” that in his days God was working through a remnant of people of which Paul was one of them. This makes me think that God can work through a remnant of people today as well. I know He can, you know He can but oh how comforting it is to see that He has in the past through scripture. At least to me it is, it deepens my faith to look back and see that He has in the past so that I know He will do it again.
“What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 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’ And David says ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see and bend their backs forever.’” Romans 11:7-10
My commentary stated that a “spirit of stupor” could be translated as “an attitude of deadness towards spiritual things”. Do we see that attitude in our world today? I think so. It seems that people in general do not want to look at things spiritually. There are so many movements against conservative values and christians that you could certainly say there is an attitude of deadness. I had never thought of the fact that God could be giving them this attitude. It feels like persecution to us, and it is. It seems there is a world feasting on their own ideas and their own abundance. The commentary pointed out that the Israelites were so secure in being God’s chosen people that they were blind to their salvation standing right in front of them. Their blindness was what ruined them. Just a thought, is the security that some people feel in their own abilities and the ridicule that they have and feel toward the christian faith going to be their ruin?
“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. 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!” Romans 11:11-12
Salvation was brought to the Gentiles because of Israel’s rebellion. Paul says here we gained our salvation so as to make Israel jealous for it. A thought here, are we living and walking in faith in such a way as to make someone jealous for what we have? That is what we are supposed to be doing. We should be walking in the way that will make Israel and anyone that doesn’t know God jealous for what we have. Not jealous in a bad way, but jealous in a “wow I want what she has!!!”
We as Gentiles were grafted into the vine. Paul gives the example that the olive tree had some of it’s branches broken off and the wild olive shoot was grafted in among the others. In other words some of God’s chosen people were “broken off”. They did not believe and therefore God’s word was brought to the Gentiles so that we could be grafted into the fellowship of believers. Paul is also stating how God has worked through this remnant to bring salvation to us but how much more when they do come to belief will be done! We must not get haughty and arrogant about these facts.
“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. Then you will say, “branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in, That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.” Romans 11:18-20
We have to remember it is not our place to stand in our christian faith as if we are superior to others of this world. As said before, we are to live in such a way that makes others want what we have. (Ouch) Do we do that? Or are we guilty of looking down our spiritual noses at those who don’t have the faith as if we are better than they. We have to remember a tree without deep roots will fall when the winds get tough. It is the roots that support our christian faith not the other way around.
“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. 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’; ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’” Romans 11:25-27
Make no mistake God has a plan for Israel. Paul is explaining it in the last part of this chapter. Paul tells the Romans that even though it seems the Israelites are enemies of God because they were against Jesus yet they are still the beloved of God. God has not given up on Israel. We received mercy from God because of their disobedience but they will also receive mercy from God. Paul is basically in the last few verses stating that we can’t and never will be able to understand God’s plan for His chosen people fully.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36
Lord we praise you and we thank you for grafting us into the vine. Oh Lord, help me to live in such a way that will make others jealous for what I have in you.