In Romans chapter 11, we find the account of God's future plan for Israel. We have already seen in chapter 9 how His past dealings with Israel proved His righteousness in acting toward the Gentiles as He now does, despite the covenant made with His earthly people.
The promise of world leadership in the worship of God was a national promise made to Israel, as Romans 9 clearly shows. The promises made to Israel could not possibly be passed on to the church because there are no racial distinctions in the church while the very essence of Judaism was that of a nation completely separate from other people.
In chapter 10 we found, that although the nation of Israel is set aside, this doesn’t in any way hinder the individual Israelite from turning to God and finding the same salvation that God is proclaiming to the Gentiles.
Chapter 11 gives us a point of view from a historical standpoint. This is necessary to help us understand the things God has recorded concerning Israel's future, and also why God has dealt with them as He has in the past and how He is dealing with them at the present time.
In the Old Testament, God promise Israel the headship in the worship of God in the world, and they, in fact, held that place from the time of Moses until the time of Paul.
In Paul's day there were two very evident facts. First, the church had displaced Israel in the leadership of the worship of God in the world. In the second place, the promises made to Israel in the oracles given them by God were not realized in the church, and could not be realized in the church. God was using Paul to inform the Jews and the world of the transfer of that leadership to another ‘nation.’ Matthew 21:43. “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” This would be a spiritual nation composed of persons from all nations, most of them Gentiles, who accepted Christ as their Savior.
The subject of chapter 10, the casting away of the nation of Israel, is continued and brought to a conclusion in verses 1-6 of Romans 11.
Israel has not been permanently set aside as some are teaching today. Those who preach that God is through with Israel are preaching a false doctrine and denying scripture.
The believer in the church age doesn’t inherit the Jewish promises stated in the scripture. Our salvation by faith in Christ doesn’t entitle us to the promises God made to Abraham, however, the believer in Christ Jesus is the spiritual seed of Abraham. Genesis 22:18: “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
The Gentile believer partakes of the spiritual blessings of the Abrahamic covenant but Israel as a nation always has its own place in God's program.
Israel is an earthly people, with earthly blessings. The church is a Heavenly people, a royal priesthood, called to sit together in Heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
The church and Israel are not one and the same. The church did not inherit the promises made to Abraham. The church is the body of Christ, the bride of Christ. He is the head, and the Savior of the body.
Abraham was promised land, a kingdom, and a King. Jesus will reign over the house of Jacob forever as King, but the church does not have a king. Jesus is the HEAD of the church, and the Savior of the body. We can’t take the blessings and the promises that God gave to Abraham and to Israel, and claim they are for the church in this day of grace.
Verse 1: "I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin."
Verses 1 through 6 speak of the remnant, proving that God has not cast off Israel forever. Paul's own experiences proved that this was not the case. He was an Israelite, of the natural seed of Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin; yet the Spirit of God brought him to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what was true of him can be true of any other Israelite.
In the history of Israel, the remnant may be discerned as spiritual Israel within national Israel. The remnant does not apply to all Israel, but to the part of Israel that obeyed God throughout their history.
Verses 2-6: "God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elijah? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
Paul is writing here that there will be a fulfillment of the prophecy of Elijah in a greater sense. In the days when Ahab was king, Israel had rejected every testimony sent to it. The people had killed the prophets and defiled God's altar. But, even in Elijah's day, God had reserved seven thousand men in apostate Israel who hadn’t bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
At the present time there is “also a remnant according to the election of grace." (verse 5) God rejected the nation, but His grace has been made fully available to the individual.
Israel's rejection, then, as spelled out in Romans 11, is neither complete, nor is it final. In God’s Own time, spiritual Israel will find salvation.
Again it’s brought out, in verse 6, that salvation is by grace plus nothing. “And if by grace, then is it no more works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
The present condition of the Jews, that is, national unbelief, was foreseen and is prophesied in verses 7 through 10.
Verses 7-10. “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway."
Paul is telling us plainly what God's purpose in connection with Israel will be in the coming day. The nation has failed to obtain what it sought, but the election (those who are saved by grace) do find it. Then we see that the rest are judicially blinded. This is in full accord with the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah 29:10. He wrote, "God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;" This is true today. David, too, had written, in Psalm 69: "Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling-block, and a recompense unto them: let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway."
Verse 8 indicates that the Jews' own scriptures taught them clearly beforehand that they could not reject Almighty God without suffering the consequences. They were warned that turning from God would bring judgment and it has.
These terrible promises were fulfilled when those who represented the nation of Israel deliberately rejected Christ and even asked for God’s judgment on their heads and their children’s heads when they stood outside Pilate's judgment hall shouting, "His blood be upon us, and upon our children."
God spoke to Isaiah, the prophet, concerning the defection of Israel from Him and their eventual fate. Isaiah 6:8-13. “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.”
Isaiah pleaded with God to send him to warn the people of Israel, and God sent him with that message. For his faithful service to the people, tradition states that they sawed him in two in a hollow log. For his faithful service to the Lord, he has received earthly honor as one of the most beloved writers of the Old Testament scriptures and more importantly, he is referred to in God’s honor roll of faith. He truly was one of the faithful remnant.
In verses 9 and 10, God told Isaiah the people wouldn’t listen to him nor understand him, nor heed his warnings. In the language of today you might call them ‘a bunch of fat cats.’
In verse 11, God said they would reject Him and their cities would be destroyed and their land spoiled and taken from them, and all this came to pass.
The only good news Isaiah had to give was this in verse 13. God revealed to Isaiah that there would always be a spiritual seed that would never cease to be.
This scripture is often quoted in the New Testament, and its fulfillment definitely pointed out. Jesus told the people why He taught them in parables, in Matthew 13: 13-17. “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”
John tells us that some of those who heard the Lord were unable to believe, and that statement is explained in John 12:37-41: "But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: That the saying of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him."
Their confidence that their righteousness came from doing the works of the law of Moses proved to be their spiritual ruin. In other words, the Jews were self-righteous, self-satisfied, self-confident. They had faith in their own ability to establish their own righteousness, but their confidence in their own ability proved to be their downfall. That same spirit will prove to be the ruin of any Gentile.
Verses 11-12: "I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?"
It was a sad day for the people Israel when they uttered those fatal words, "His blood be on us, and on our children!" Matthew 27:25.
No Bible reading Christian would deny that Israel has fallen; but that’s not the end of Israel. God does have a future for Israel. We, nor they, can accuse God of being unfaithful to Israel, or to the covenants He made with them. God has set them aside for a time because of their un-belief.
After the church is raptured from the earth, and during the reign of the antichrist and the course of the Great Tribulation, a remnant out of all Israel will return to the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him as their Messiah, and will become His witnesses here on earth. They will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to every creature on this earth. Many of these will be killed. Some will be spared and will enter the thousand year reign of Christ on this earth alive.
Scripture asks the question, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" The answer is "Yes!" God made a covenant with Abraham that was everlasting. Every promise that God made to His people, Israel, will be fulfilled in its entirety. God has not forgotten His people. God has a divine purpose, an eternal purpose, in the stumbling of Israel: "Through their fall, salvation is come to the Gentiles." But that is not the only purpose God had in permitting national Israel to be blinded. Notice that is states “but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”
God will use the grace He has shown to me, a Gentile, to provoke Israel to jealousy. When they see the Messiah whom they slew, and see His nail pierced hands, and recognize Him as their Messiah, they’ll want what I have, and that is salvation by faith through the grace of God.
In verse 12 we read that if the fall of Israel be the riches of the world how much more their fullness?
We might as well face it: Everything worth while that has come to the Gentile world has come through Israel. This is extremely hard for some Gentiles to swallow, particularly if you are a descendant of Ishmael. Its the truth, and if these blessings have come through the stumbling and the falling of Israel, then Israel is also in line for far greater blessings when they return to their place in God's favor!
Israel will one day accept Him whom they pierced, a nation will be born in a day, and God will give to Abraham and his descendants every square inch of ground He promised to him.
The Kingdom Age will come to this earth for one thousand years, and King Jesus will sit on the throne in Jerusalem and reign over the house of Jacob. We, the Gentile Bride, will reign with Him.
It’s in God's plans to bless the whole world through the Jew, and God is going to do this in His appointed time, and according to His blueprint for the ages.
The scriptures clearly teach that Israel must come into their blessing from God before the Gentiles receive the fullness of God's blessings on them.