11 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
Israel rejected Christ and God has set them aside in judgement. This is true, this is fact. However, it is only partial. He has not rejected Israel entirely, only partially.
Paul first uses himself as an example. He says that he is an Israelite, and he is a believer, therefore God didn't set aside all Israelites. Paul had been an unbelieving Jew - and a zealous one at that! And God saved him. And just as God saved Paul, so will He save other unbelieving zealous Jews. He is not through with the Israelites yet.
Then we see that God has always preserved a remnant. Pretty much throughout Israel's history, the majority of the nation has turned away from God, but there has always been a remnant. And Paul uses Elijah as an example.
And we remember the story of Elijah - the great show down on Mount Carmel between Baal and God. And when God dropped fire down on that drowned altar and burned up the whole thing, and Elijah slaughtered all the prophets of Baal - Elijah expected a national revival. And it didn't happen. Not only did it not happen, Jezebel swore on her life that she would kill Elijah by the next day. And Elijah, after taking on 850 men by himself, succumbed to fear of this one evil and powerful woman, fled for his life, and became utterly despondent. He prayed against his own people, and he prayed for his own death. He felt completely alone. But he was not alone. And God told him so. God had preserved a remnant of 7000.
There has always been a remnant.
There was a remnant in Elijah's time, in Isaiah's time, in Malachi's time. The remnant includes people like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Mordecai, Esther, the remnant that returned with Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuild Jerusalem. The remnant included John the Baptist, Anna, Simeon, the disciples, Paul, the apostles. There are believing Jews now, and there will continue to be believing Jews in the future. There will always be a remnant.
And I love v5&6. 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
Chosen by grace. A remnant chosen by God. Not because they were worthy. Not because they were good. Not because they had worked hard to do the right thing. Not because they had the right parents. Not because they had a lot of money. Not because of anything to do with them at all. God chose them and they responded in faith. It was by the grace of God alone that they were saved - just like it is by the grace of God alone that any of us are saved.
God has not cast aside the entire nation of Israel - Paul's conversion proves it, and the remnant proves it.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Romans 11:7-10