THE BOOK OF REVELATION
THE CHURCH'S TRIUMPH THROUGH CHRIST
Sermon #25 - The Jewish Remnant - Has God Cast Off the Jews? - Romans 11:1-11
A Supplement to Our Understanding of Revelation
INTRODUCTION - Throughout the ministry of Christ on earth, we see the Jewish nation rejecting Him as the Messiah. Thus, as we study the Gospel accounts, we see the condemnation of the Jews growing until we reach the pronouncement of judgment in Matthew 24 (Matthew 3:7-12; 8:11,12; 12:41; 21:33-45; 22:1-9; 23:33-39). Christ tells His disciples that Jerusalem will fall, thus bringing judgment upon that generation of apostate Jews and bringing to an end the old dispensation. As the Temple falls in 70 AD, so a new Temple is erected, a spiritual one, made up of the people of God who no longer worship in Jerusalem, but worship God through Christ in spirit and in truth. The question now comes that if God has rejected the Jewish nation, tearing down their city and Temple, and judging them for their rejection of Christ, does this mean the end of the Jewish people in the plan of God? Do the fleshly children of Abraham no longer have a place in God's kingdom? Certainly we see the "hardness of heart" upon the Jew today, but does this mean that God is finished with them? The Apostle Paul asks and answers this question in Romans 11, thus presenting to us the way we should understand the Jew today. He also speaks of a great revival in the future, where national Israel will turn back to the Messiah and join the Gentiles in the kingdom of God.
1) WHY DOES PAUL ASK THIS QUESTION? - Romans 11:1 - In the previous chapters, Paul has been speaking about the apostasy of the Jews in his own day. He has witnessed this rejection firsthand through his missionary endeavors. Wherever he goes, though he sees some Jews coming to Christ, the majority reject the Messiah. Paul sees this as being a great sin, for the Jews were the ones given all the promises and blessings of God. They had the Word of God before them. They had the Messiah walking in their midst. How could they reject so much light? The apostate Jew said that he did not need Jesus Christ, but that his being a descendent of Abraham was sufficient to save him. The apostate Jew said that he "followed the law" and this is what made him acceptable to God. Yet Paul says that being a Jew in the flesh does not save you (Romans 2:28,29). Paul also knew that judgment was coming for that apostate generation. The old dispensation was coming down and with it, those Jews who rejected the Messiah. Yet Paul also realized that many would think that this was the end of Israel. Thus, he asks in Romans 11:1, does the apostasy of Israel mean that God has completely rejected them?
2) PAUL ANSWERS THE QUESTION - Romans 11:1-5 - Paul firmly declares that God has not cast away the Jews. Thus, he shows us how we must look at the Jew today. Despite their rebellion and hardness of heart, they have not been completely cast off by God.
A) PAUL USES HIMSELF AS A LIVING EXAMPLE TO PROVE THAT GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH THE JEWS - The writer of Romans is a Jew himself, an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, descended through the tribe of Benjamin. This alone furnishes proof that God has not completely cast off the Jews. If we know of any Jewish Christians today, it also proves that God is not completely done with this nation. It is the Apostle Paul's testimony, however, that furnishes the greatest proof of God's interest in the Jews. Paul is not just an everyday sort of Jew. Before his conversion, he was a Jew who violently opposed Christianity, hunting down believers and throwing them into prison. He was a Pharisee, one of the religious leaders whom Jesus opposed so vehemently in His ministry. Paul is a prime example of active Jewish apostasy. Certainly Paul should have been cast off with the rest of apostate Israel! Yet here we see that God even has mercy on the chief of sinners. This proves that the Lord is not finished with Jews according to the flesh.
B) THE ELECTION OF GOD IS FAR STRONGER THAN THE REJECTION OF MEN - If salvation of the Jews was dependent on their desire for Christ, then no one in Judaism would have been saved. Paul knows that he deserves rejection for his crimes against Christ, yet God has had mercy on him. Why? Not because of anything Paul had done. Not because of Paul's desire for Christ since there was none to begin with. No, Paul's conversion illustrates the electing grace of God which is greater than this Jew's rejection. In his conversion, the Apostle is literally thrown to the ground by Christ. Christ must conquer this rebellious Jew, and it is the calling and election of God which achieves this. We can see why the Apostle is so full of gratitude and thanksgiving when he thinks upon his salvation. So also should we be filled this day with gratitude, knowing that we too were once in rebellion against God and deserved to be cast away in His wrath. Instead, God has elected to show us mercy and grace! Has God cast away the Jews? No, there is still a remnant, a small group from within Judaism, which God has chosen to preserve in His grace. He is still working with national Israel.
C) THE ILLUSTRATION OF THE DAYS OF ELIJAH - Apostasy is not something new to the children of Israel. In the days of Elijah, the prophet felt that he was the last one in Israel to worship Jehovah. Yet even in those days, though the apostasy was great, it was not complete. God had reserved seven thousand in His electing grace. Note, the emphasis is not on the faithfulness of the seven thousand, rather, Paul is pointing out that it was because God has reserved them that they existed. So it was in Paul's day. National apostasy seemed to characterize the Jews of the first century, yet God had kept for Himself a small portion who would bow to Christ. Paul was one of them.
3) THE ELECTION AND HARDENING OF ISRAEL - Romans 11:7-10 - Israel did not obtain what it was looking for. What were they looking for? Romans 9:31-33 tells us, they looked for righteousness, entrance into the kingdom, becoming the holy people of God. Yet they were seeking it through their own good works. They stumbled over the Messiah. Thus, the majority of Israel did not find what they were looking for. Instead, only the elect found it. As a result, the rest of Israel was blinded, they were hardened in their rebellion. How does God harden sinners? He simply gives them up to their own sin. He allows them to go on the course which they have chosen for themselves. Since the Jews gladly and willingly rejected Christ, He gave them up to that sin, thus, they perished. This is what we are seeing in Israel today. The hardening is still upon them as they ignore the Messiah. Those who find Christ are those who have been elected in God's mercy. As a result, we are not to give up witnessing to the Jews today, for God is still working with them. We do not know who the elect are, but as we preach to them, we shall see those revealed whom God has called into the grace and mercy of His kingdom.
4) THE OUTCOME OF THE JEWISH HARDENING - Romans 11:11 - One of the incredible consequences of the Jewish hardening is that salvation has now come to the Gentiles. The kingdom has been opened up to include the pagan nations of the world. Through the Jewish rejection and apostasy, we, the Gentiles, have been shown the grace and mercy of God! Yet there is still a great day coming for the Jewish people. There is still to come a day of repentance and revival, where the nation will once again turn back to Christ. The great revival of the Jews in the future is what we shall consider next week as we continue our study of Romans 11