The Way - Day 118 (Romans 11)

Daily Reading:
Romans 11
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Read Romans 11:25-26 aloud. What do you think Paul meant here? What other scriptures inform your view?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 40:1-2
OPTION 2: Proverbs 16:9
OPTION 3: Matthew 6:1-2
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Romans 11 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Romans 11
Beginning in Romans 9, Paul writes regarding the response of Israel to the gospel of Jesus Christ. So far, he has revealed that they rejected Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin (9:1-5), but that their reaction to the gospel was not outside of God's purposes (9:6-33). Paul then communicates to his readers that Israel should have quit trying to earn God's favor through human effort, but rather received the righteousness of God provided through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (10:1-13). The gospel had been revealed in the Old Testament, both for Jews and Gentiles, but the nation of Israel had ignored the word of God (10:1-18) and since Israel had ignored the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, God would now focus on bringing the gospel to the Gentiles (10:19-21).

Anticipating that some controversy would arise over his words in Romans 10, Paul explains that although Israel rejected Jesus Christ, God would not forget His people (11:1-2a). Paul points to the prophet Elijah, frustrated with Israel's disobedience, who prayed (11:2b), "Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life" (11:3). In response to Elijah's prayer God says, "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal" (11:4). This is a reminder that God loves His people and even when some may reject Him, there will always be a group in Israel who choose to worship God. Just like there was a group of 7,000 Israelites in Elijah's day who did not worship Baal, Paul says that in this "present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (11:5). What makes the difference in this present time? Those who receive salvation through grace will be saved (the elect) and those who attempt to obtain salvation through works (the blinded) will remain in sin (11:6-7). Many in Israel had chosen to seek God's righteousness through their works and obedience to the law of Moses. Using Old Testament quotes, Paul shows how this is in God's plan.

Just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day." And David says: "Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and a recompense to them. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, And bow down their back always (Romans 11:8-10).

In case Paul's Jewish readers thought that God had permanently turned His back on Israel, he was quick to remind them that their rejection of Jesus and the Gentiles' reception of the gospel would provoke Israel to return to God (11:11-12). As difficult as it may be to understand, the salvation of "lowly" Gentiles would ultimately bring the nation of Israel back to Him (11:13-15).
God's favor on the Gentiles may cause them to become prideful, so Paul gave them a stern warning using a tree as an illustration (11:16-24). The root represented salvation given to Abraham by grace through faith and the branches represented the people of Israel, who were God's chosen people (11:16). Some of the people in Israel broke away from the root (the unbelieving) while some had remained (the believing) but there were also some branches which were grafted onto the root (believing Gentiles). Although the "Gentile branches" were from a wild olive tree, they were made a part of the chosen olive tree (11:17); however, the Gentile branches should "not boast against the branches [unbelieving Jews]" (11:18a). The Gentiles should always be aware that they are not God's covenant people, but have been allowed to receive the benefits of the promise of salvation (11:18b). Paul continues to write,

Because of unbelief they [unbelieving Jews] were broken off, and you [believing Gentiles] stand by faith.  Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches [unbelieving Jews], He may not spare you [unbelieving Gentiles] either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off (Romans 11:20-22).

Paul then provides a glimmer of hope for the unbelieving Jews saying, "...if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again (11:23). The key to being restored to God is belief, specifically belief that Jesus Christ was given as the payment for sin and offers righteousness to all who receive it by faith. Although Israel has been temporarily blinded to the truth and the Gentiles are receiving the truth, Israel will once again be open to the truth (11:25-26a). The Jews have rejected salvation since Jesus was presented as the Messiah and they will continue until the salvation of an appointed number of Gentiles is complete. Following that time many Jews will come to salvation, which is seen as the seven year tribulation period, because God will again offer salvation to them (11:30-31).
As Paul writes about God's plan in saving Israel and the Gentiles, he begins to give God praise for His purposes,

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?" "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?" For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen (Romans 11:33-36).

Although God's plans and purposes are not always understood by man, we can be confident in His ways because we know that He always does what is right.

Dear God, thank You for extending Your grace to Jews and Gentiles. I have confidence in the plans You have made.