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Romans 11:1-36 Key verse 11:4

    "And what was God's answer to him? 'I have reserved for myself 
seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'"

    In the previous chapter, we studied God's message to a lost world. 
What did we learn? Paul said, if we confess Jesus is Lord with our mouth 
and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, we will be 
saved. It is a simple salvation plan, but many coworkers, especially the 
younger servants confessed it was difficult to really come to Jesus as 
the Lord. Along with Paul, we are burdened for our family, coworkers and 
neighbors who do not know Jesus as the Lord yet. We fear they may reject 
the Gospel of Jesus Christ and love the darkness more than the light. We 
want to fix them with some human wisdom or acts of righteousness, but we 
are limited by spiritual reality, that we all must come to God by faith 
which trusts God on our own. Our hope and prayer is that our loved ones 
may be saved by hearing the message God gave us to share. In today's 
passage, Paul shares the hope of God for his people and all the 
gentiles, even though many seem unmoved by the story of Jesus. Paul 
mentions the remnant, clearly indicating that there will always be true 
Israelites serving God, right alongside the gentile believers, all the 
way until to the end of time. Rather than being divisive, as many Jews 
accused Paul, it seems he really wants to unite God's people together, 
expressing God's hope for all Israel to be saved and useful to God in 
his glorious world salvation work.

I. ... a remnant chosen by grace (1-10)

    Last week, chapter 10:21 closed on a dismal note. God despaired 
over Israel saying, "All day long I have held out my hands to a 
disobedient and obstinate people." Somebody might think that saying 
implies that God was wiping his hands in the air, as if he wanted 
nothing to do with Israel anymore. Paul addressed the idea right away in 
verse 1. "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an 
Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham..." Several years before, Paul 
was one of the most disobedient and obstinate of all Israelites. He was 
a blasphemer and a persecutor of the church of God, but Jesus forgave 
his sins unconditionally and appointed Paul to carry his name before the 
Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel (Ac 9:15). Paul 
recognized God's choosing him was totally undeserved grace based on 
God's sovereign will. He believed that God's grace can work the same in 
any descendant of Israel, and noticed that God was holding out his hands 
toward the Jews, 24/7, in hope that some will repent.

    It is humbling to consider God's grace to Israel in retrospect. God 
began his work in them through Abraham and he worked, according to his 
promises with them, for many centuries. Even when they became 
disobedient, rebellious and obstinate, God kept reminding them of his 
calling and purpose through the prophets. Just as the previous 
generations of Israelites disregarded God's directions and grace, Paul 
might realize it is happening all over again with regard to Jesus. Still 
he says the most remarkable thing in verse 2: "God did not reject his 
people, whom he foreknew." Paul respects God's foreknowledge, providence 
and promise for Israelites like himself. This is amazing. Even with 
foreknowledge of their rejection and despising his own son, God does not 
cancel his electing grace for his people. He never gives up on Abraham's 
descendants in spite of their rebelliousness; however, considering that 
there are just a small number reminded Paul of the one's God reserved in 
Elijah's day. At that time, Queen Jezebel who supported the priests of 
Baal, was a very bad influence, but she cannot be the only one to blame. 
Baal worship was everywhere, as people desired the pleasure seeking 
worship they saw in the pagans. Who tried to serve God faithfully was 
considered a party pooper, or narrow minded conservative. When the whole 
nation put God's calling and directions out of their mind, Elijah stood 
up as a man of God's spirit. He challenged the Baal priests to a contest 
of fire to prove whose God was the living God. Hundreds of Baal priests 
cried out all morning to Baal for fire on their sacrifice, but nothing 
happened. They were totally defeated when Elijah prayed and fire from 
heaven consumed the sacrifice Elijah prepared. As punishment for their 
idolatry, Elijah ordered the extermination of all Baal priests in the 
Kishon Valley at once. It was the supreme slap in Queen Jezebel's face 
and she determined to have Elijah murdered, so he fled to the 
wilderness. In his desperation, he appealed to God: "Lord, they have 
killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, 
and they are trying to kill me" He was afraid that his testimony and the 
unmistakable miracle were all in vain.

    What was God's answer to him? Look at verse 4. "I have reserved for 
myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." This word 
has strong evidence of God's foreknowledge and intention to keep his 
promise to Abraham. Reserving people for himself means God watched 
over those faithful people. They were tempted sorely by the world around 
them to compromise, but when they heard God's words, they repented and 
held fast to faith in God. They were very obscure and hard to find 
people. Even the number one prophet of God did not know they were there. 
God set them apart for himself and used them for his special purpose. 
They glorified God in secret at that time, but God had his own reason to 
let them remain like that. Only 7000 were known to God as true 
Israelites in Elijah's day. Even though Paul is mainly talking about the 
Jewish remnant, it is encouraging even for believers who share the Bible 
faithfully, maybe having little success among the hard hearted cultures 
of our time. It reminds us to pray for and support the little house 
church missions in the predominantly Muslim lands and other pioneering 
families we know of. They may not stand out in the world, and may be 
small in number around the world, but from God's point of view, the 
remnant are the most precious and treasured possession in the universe.

    Look at verse 5. "So too, at the present time, there is a remnant 
chosen by grace." In the context of Romans, Paul is talking about the 
genuine Israel, the Jewish people who come to God by faith, like Abraham 
did in his day. Among the Jews of Paul's time, it meant the Apostles and 
their converts, but already, the number of Gentiles coming to God may 
have outnumbered the Jews who believed. Not much has changed. We meet 
many Christians and see so many churches, but there are very few Jews 
who visit. I think I can count on one hand the ones who studied with us, 
who are Jews by birthright. In contrast to the number of Gentiles who 
studied and worshiped with us, the Jews are definitely a remnant. Paul 
mentioned something similar in the previous passage saying, not all 
descendants of Jacob are Israel. There were many, many descendants of 
Jacob in Elijah's time too, but the majority could not be known as 
Israel. Elijah recognized they were backsliding and seeking to kill 
God's servants. I think Paul could understand Elijah very well. He must 
have appreciated that story and remembered it often. He found himself a 
remnant from among the Israelites.

    We are encouraged by thinking about a remnant. In the really big 
picture, there may be only a remnant among Christians too. You can see 
how Christians also become political about their communities. They also 
have many hypocrites and cult leaders among them. If we look all over 
the world, we can see God's church was never larger, nor more widespread 
than it is today. Yet, we have to confess, it is God who raises and 
establishes the ones he reserved for himself in every situation. It has 
been that way since Abraham and will be that way until Jesus comes 
again. Dr. Lee wrote, "Though the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus 
seems to be a losing business and stagnant compared with the worldly 
businesses, it is not so. If the world is compared to the 400 Baal 
priests the work of God is compared to the 7,000 remnants of God. The 
successes and triumphs of the gospel have been grander and mightier than 
all other businesses of the world." It puts the work of sharing the 
Bible in perspective. Many students really try hard to study and do 
well, and they should, but it so often becomes more important than 
sharing a little word of God, which is so much more eternally 
significant. They end up worshiping their career and reputation rather 
than seeking first the kingdom of God. Such snares and temptations are 
never ending. Time and again we find ourselves crying out, Lord, I just 
need a little more money to pay the bills! (Bills sounds really close 
to Baals, so it should make us think of who we are serving. Do I want to 
pay the bills or just have a lot of money to spend on myself?) Jesus 
said we cannot serve God and money! Instead we have to cry out, Lord, I 
just need a little more courage to share the stories of Jesus! That will 
be like 7000 who work to preserve the souls of God's people forever.

    Let's read verse 5&6 again together. "So too, at the present time 
there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no 
longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace." The main 
idea here is reminding the Jews about having righteousness by faith. 
Paul stressed "grace" in these verses though. Works of keeping the law 
are no longer required to obtain righteousness in God's community. It 
means, anyone from anywhere can come to God as they are and be accepted 
by faith in the gospel message. This grace has an example in Jesus story 
of the wedding. When the main guests refused to come, the king invited 
anyone from anywhere; if they were good or bad made no difference. When 
those commoners and outcasts arrived, the king gave them all beautiful 
clothes to wear, and they were identified by the gifts the king gave 
them. It is God's hope that his people will come to his kingdom wearing 
the robes of righteousness he provides in the saving grace he has poured 
out on the world through Jesus. It seems repetitive and we think, I 
know, I know all about that Paul but we have to understand God. He is 
waiting with open arms for the Jewish people to accept God's world 
salvation purpose. We have to hear his voice calling them and pray 
earnestly along with Paul for their salvation. Paul considers the uphill 
battle of reaching out to his countrymen in verse 7-10.

    Look at Verse 7. "What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did 
not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened." In this verse, 
the word "hardened" has been defined as covering with some thick skin, 
like a "callus." Just as a callus can grow on the hand, a callus can 
grow on the heart. When the majority of Jews rejected Jesus as their 
Messiah, they chose their culture, heritage and religion as their source 
of righteousness. Paul distinguished between the elect and Israel by 
their choice. He realized many in Israel remained hardened on account of 
their decision to reject God's invitation; refusing the beautiful robes 
of righteousness he offered them by faith.

    There are tragic consequences in verse 8-10. Verse 8 reveals a 
prophetic observation coming true. 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." The very idea of being a 
chosen people became the thing that blinded them, so that God's world 
salvation work had to start from scratch, through the new wineskin 
disciples and courageous witnesses like Paul. When Paul realized how the 
wealthy and worldly Jews of his time were rebelling against God, Psalm 
69:22 came to his mind. It says, "May the table set before them become a 
snare; may it become a retribution and a trap." He realized the Jews 
were feasting at a rich table with arrogant minds. They became Satan's 
puppets, as he led many away from God by promoting the sin of 
self-righteousness (9) through Jewish influences. Verse ten is 
frightening. "May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their 
backs be bent forever." There were so many of God's good promises 
mentioned in Paul's letter, but he did not shy away or compromise with 
sharing the scary promises either. If people persistently ignore God and 
his will seeking to establish their own righteousness, he might let them 
have their way. Their way may even look good to the world, but it will 
end in dark, crippling destruction. If there is a remnant that believe 
God's message and are saved, there is also a large majority who reject 
his message. Let's pray for one another to be found among the 7000 of 
God's people in our generation.

II. God's hope (11-36)

    Look at verse 11. "Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall 
beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, 
salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious." Here is a 
profound announcement, that God is making something good, out of what 
seemed to be a tragedy beyond all imagination. When his chosen people 
became insensitive with callused hearts, God did not give up. God opened 
the door to his kingdom and began inviting everyone he could find; 
anyone who wanted to come in. Paul finds the most intriguing hope in 
this, believing that Israel people can recover, even being moved by envy 
to discover God's way of salvation.

    God's hope is very peculiar. If you think historically, the way to 
treat such rebellious people who killed your son is to wipe them out 
completely. Yet God continually holds out hope for some Jews to repent. 
There is another odd thing in that God could have given up on the whole 
world after his people rejected him. It would be fair, since the 
Gentiles had gone away from God for thousands of years anyway. God could 
have abandoned the whole creation as it was, but God did not pout and 
take his blessings away from everyone. Instead, he poured out his saving 
grace among the gentiles. Many Gentiles came to Jesus by faith, trusting 
in the love of God. When the Gentiles accepted the Gospel of Jesus they 
were richly blessed. They surprisingly began to multiply the ministry of 
salvation in all directions on their own too. It has not been easy to 
wait for the message to go all over the earth. Gentile believers also 
fell into many of the same traps the corrupted leaders of Jesus' time 
were in at that moment. The gentiles got proud and arrogant too. They 
also took God's grace and mercy for granted and used his name for their 
political intrigue. Even among those Gentiles there seem to be remnant 
though. They are the ones who catch the gospel by faith and share it 
with life changing grace in their generation.

    I think the strangest thing is that Paul even hoped for envy to 
bring some Israelites to faith. It seems like he trusts a promise God 
made in Deuteronomy 32:31. .... I will make them envious by those who 
are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no 
understanding. It's amazing that Paul prays for any means to inspire 
people to seek God. How does it work? All through the book of Acts, we 
find Paul entering synagogues everywhere he went, and announcing the 
work of God among gentiles whenever he visited Jerusalem. Rather than 
get envious, it seems like the Jews only rebelled and tried to kill 
Paul. Why did he keep hoping against all hope to save them? Look at 
verse 12.  "... if their transgression means riches for the world, and 
their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will 
their fullness bring!" Fullness is another important part of God's hope 
in this passage. Here Paul dreams of the day when all those true 
Israelites are gathered together, worshiping God by faith. Later in 
verse 25, he mentioned the same hope for the fullness of the Gentiles to 
be brought in to God's family by faith, though it was made possible by 
the Jews rejection. It means, though they are two groups, God's hope for 
Israel and the Gentiles are the same. The full number of all who will 
believe must hear the message of salvation and repent. Uniting them as 
one is probably the most difficult thing to imagine, but I think it is 
what Paul aims for in the next verses.

    Look at verse 13&14. "... I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as 
I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope 
that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them." 
Paul was sure that some Jews in the empire would hear about the 
salvation of all people and repent. He compared sharing the gospel with 
showering riches on all the gentiles, and believed that if Jews 
experience God's promises to the full it will be a very great blessing. 
I think it was a long shot, especially among the proud, cantankerous 
Jesus of his day. Have you heard of Jewish people feeling envious of the 
Gentiles and seeking God's kingdom? If nothing else, I can imagine that 
as Jews heard of Paul's ministry they might come investigating with 
skeptical motives, only to end up believing. I am sure there were some 
among the many who came to Paul looking for a fight over his work who 
eventually repented, but they must be like needles in a haystack, or a 
precious diamond among many grains of sand on the seashore.

    Look at verse 13 again. Paul suddenly changes the focus of his 
letter. For several chapters he has been making the case for the Jews to 
seek God's righteousness by faith, apart from the law. Now what did he 
say? "... I am talking to you Gentiles. (Wake up the gentiles next to 
you so they can pay attention.) We have to listen up. There is a great 
danger of being proud of God's blessing, now that he invites us to his 
kingdom. Paul made sure all the Jews in every town he visited heard 
about his ministry on purpose, but he also wants the gentiles to take 
note. We know of many gentiles who don't get along with Jews at all. 
Jews are too proud. Why do they have special menus? Jews are too stingy 
and nit-picky! It is a bad attitude. The believer gentiles cannot 
become high-minded toward the Jews, even those who kick them out and 
reject Jesus. Also, the gentiles must not overlook the opportunity to 
work for salvation of Jews right along with Paul. We must realize that 
our testimony to the Jews is very important.

    In verse 16 and 17, Paul shares some examples for the Gentiles to 
consider. He is worried they may become proud of themselves too, and 
take all these blessings for granted, just as the Jews were doing for 
centuries before. Gentiles need to be aware of where their faith and 
blessings come from. Look at verse 16. "If the part of the dough offered 
as first-fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is 
holy, so are the branches." This verse is a quotation from Numbers 
15:18-20. When the Jews prepared dough they offered the first part of it 
to God. When they did so, the whole lump of dough became holy. It was 
not necessary, as it were, to offer every separate mouthful of dough to 
God. The gist of Paul's logic is that, now that God is calling people to 
him from all over the world by faith, the first believing Jews are like 
the first chunk of bread offered to God. The Gentiles are part of the 
holy dough offered to God because God's chosen people had offered the 
first part of the dough to God. It's beautiful to think that Paul has 
accepted Jew and gentiles alike as his brothers and sisters in God's 
family. Paul is no longer a bigoted Jew who thought that Jews are Jews 
and Gentiles are Gentiles through and through.

    Another example he thought of is how farmers can graft in branches 
to various trees. Look at verse 17. "If some of the branches have been 
broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in 
among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive 
root..." Wild trees would be ignored, out on the edges of fields unless 
a gardener needs some flowers to help pollenate the cultivated tree. 
Over many generations, farmers have noticed that such grafting 
operations can even produce better fruit, and stronger disease resistant 
varieties. God is working in a similar way as he puts in new, unusual 
people from many nations to his holy family tree of believers. Each 
generation and culture adds a new vitality and gracious voices of praise 
for God. Sometimes I get lost in imagination thinking of how God can 
rejoice as the voices of praise to him ascend all day long as the world 
turns and his people rise up to praise God for his grace and salvation 
in Jesus every morning. It is a marvelous work of God, but Paul does not 
hide the frailty of the work God is doing among us.

    At the end of verse 17, "the olive root" refers to the root of 
Jesse (Isa 11:10), and to the root of David (Rev 5: 5; 22:16). It is 
Jesus is the Son of Man. In relation to this root, the patriarchs, and 
the Jews who come to God by faith, are obviously branches. The Gentiles 
have no way of enjoying God's promises unless they are united to the 
holy root. They must be connected by God's mercy and grace in Jesus, 
because they have no other connection by a covenant or promise that God 
made to the Jews. The fact is, we gentiles have nothing to boast about 
in and of ourselves. If we think Jews were only broken-off, and are now 
worthless to God, we are in danger of rousing God's anger against us. If 
we think that only gentiles can do world mission correctly, we might 
neglect the gracious hope of God for his people and our grace may become 
our own stumbling block and snare. Look at verse 22&23. Let all gentiles 
read them together. 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. And they 
also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God 
is able to graft them in again. Let's pray for the peace of Jerusalem, 
and share Paul's concern for the people of God who have been cut off for 
our sake. Never forget or take for granted the fact that it is from the 
Jews that God has made a way for the salvation of all mankind. Never 
doubt Paul's word all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The 
Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from 
Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins." 
It is God's promise and hope that we share in the glorious work of 
fulfilling his will and rejoicing in his desire to take away the sins of 
the world through Jesus.

    In verse 26, the name of Jacob has a deep historical meaning. Jacob 
represents, in character, the people of Israel. At the present, his 
people rejected the Gospel, while the Gentiles received it. So they 
appear to be the enemies of God. But God does not think so. God thinks 
of them as a chosen people. God had never failed to remember the 
patriarchs, whom he chose to be his servants in the work of salvation. 
The patriarchs had faith in God's sovereignty and dedicated their lives 
to God. Thus they became a blessing to their people with their influence 
of faith. God never changes his promises, for they are based on his 
sovereign will. Look at verse 29. "For God's gifts and his call are 
irrevocable." God is stern toward them while they rebel, but he has a 
sovereign plan at work. Paul re-iterates it in verse 32. "For God has 
bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them 
all." It was such a great mystery, how God can keep his promise to the 
Jews, though they rebel and remain obstinate, while welcoming all the 
gentiles from the ends of the earth so unconditionally when they have 
faith. Paul was overwhelmed by the mysterious work of God going on 
before his eyes that he could only compile a song of praise from some 
Bible verses in his mind. By the Holy Spirit's inspiration, Paul became 
kind of on the spot rapper, praising god who deserves glory forever 
because of his great wisdom that makes all men truly equal.

    33 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! 
34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His 
counselor?" 35 "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to 
him?" 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom 
be glory forever. Amen.

    This passage is really the summary of around three or four chapters 
of Romans. Here we learned that God has unshakeable hope to preserve a 
remnant for himself among the Jews. He has unshakeable hope for a great 
multitude of people from every nation, tribe, people and language. Paul 
reiterated the fact that we are all found worthy of heaven, only by the 
amazing grace of God toward rebellious and arrogant people. Let's pray 
God will use us to accomplish his world salvation plan, bringing the 
Jews and the Gentiles together from the campus, our neighborhoods and 
all the nations of the world.
No. Subject Author Date Views
190 Romans 16:1-27 "House Churches in Rome." by M. John Park M. PK 2016.02.07 419
189 Romans 15:14-33 The Priestly Duty - M. Peter Kim M. PK 2016.02.01 375
188 With One Mind and Voice Glorify God - Romans 15:1-13 By sh. David Gates M. PK 2016.01.24 370
187 The Victorious Christian Life - Romans 13:1-14 M. Peter Kim M. PK 2016.01.10 359
186 "I am God Almighty" Genesis 17 Jan/3 2016 By M.Caleb Kang M. PK 2016.01.04 377
185 Dec/27 2015 "Be Transformed" Romans 12:1-21 by Sh. David Gates M. PK 2015.12.28 386
184 Luke 1:26-38 "His Kingdom will Never End." by M. Joseph Sohn M. PK 2015.12.14 377
183 Nov/29 2015 "Thankful People and Unthankful People" Luke17:11-19 by M. John Park file M. PK 2015.11.29 394
» Nov/22 2015 "God's Remnant and God's Hope" By Sh. David Gates M. PK 2015.11.22 408
181 Nov/15 2015 Romans 10 "God's message to the world" by M. Peter Kim M. PK 2015.11.15 444
180 Nov/8 2015 Romans 9:1-33 "GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IN WORLD MISSION" by Sh.David Gates M. PK 2015.11.09 378
179 Oct/25 2015 Romans 8:1-17 Free to live by the Spirit by M.Peter Kim M. PK 2015.10.25 374
178 Oct/18 2015 "Now We Belong to Jesus." Romans 7 by Sh. David Gates M. PK 2015.10.18 356
177 Oct/11 2015 "Dead to sin, Alive to God" Romans 6 - M. Peter Kim file M. PK 2015.10.11 366
176 Sept/27 2015 Romans 5:1-21 "The Fruits of Faith" By Sh. David Gates M. PK 2015.09.27 294
175 Sept/20 2015 Romans 4:-25 "In the Footsteps of Abraham's Faith" - M.PK M. PK 2015.09.20 300
174 Aug 29, 2015 Romans 1:18-32 "A World without Faith" By Sh. David Gates M. PK 2015.08.31 306
173 July 6, 2014 Genesis 29:1-30:24 "THE GOD OF PADDAN ARAM" by shepherd David Gates livebyfaith 2014.07.07 1736
172 June 1st, 2014 Genesis 22:1-19 "GOD TESTS ABRAHAM" by shepherd David Gates file livebyfaith 2014.06.02 1385
171 May 11, 2014 Genesis 16-17 "GOD CALLS ABRAM ABRAHAM" by shepherd David Gates file livebyfaith 2014.05.14 2005