- Sermon Notes
Paul has been telling us how concerned he is for his brethren, the Israelites because they do not have the surpassing victory which is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord. His heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is for their salvation, because they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
They missed it, they stumbled over the stumbling stone. They took offense at God’s Son, but He was God’s answer so a sinner could have a relationship with the holy, righteous God.
What a tragedy; the entire Old Testament points to Jesus Christ and they missed it. The problem was that they were hard of heart. God determined before the foundation of the world that all who come to Him must come by faith, but they insisted on being defined by their works. They wanted to rest on their own laurels; on their own accomplishments.
So what is God’s response to Israel? They would not heed “the glad tidings of good things.” They would not open their heart and so they didn’t have faith. But what does God do in response? Does He reject them? Is He done with Israel forever?
These are very important questions especially because of the times in which we are now living. More and more Israel is in the news and as we see the events of the world unfolding before our eyes, we need to understand whether Israel is relevant any longer or if Israel has been cast aside.
One of the first places to start is in verse 21 of the last chapter, “But as for Israel He says, ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to be disobedient and obstinate people.’” He wouldn’t stretch out His hands to them if He has rejected them. Once again we see God’s grace extended.
Unfortunately there is a certain branch of theology today that declares that God has cast away His people, that the nation that bears the name Israel in the Middle East today has no greater significance in God’s agenda than, say, Canada, or Argentina.
But there are many students of the scriptures that are concerned about the events unfolding in the world today, and want to understand whether Israel has any significance in biblical prophecy. Some try to spiritualize Israel and make any promises and prophecies regarding Israel be applied to the church. Then there are those who seek to identify the so-called lost 10 tribes of Israel.
Some suggest the Anglo-Saxon nations are the lost tribes of Israel and they use such arguments as the nation of Denmark is actually the tribe of Dan. The word ‘ish” in Hebrew means man, so the Danish are the people of Dan. The Finish are another tribe, and the British, etc. All of which is actually fool-ish.
Paul is making the point with a big exclamation mark that God has not rejected His people. May it never be! When we understand God’s heart toward Israel, we also understand His heart toward us.
Understanding Israel is also a key to understanding the events of the last days. We are living in very troublesome times and in the midst of troubles, some have shipwrecked their faith.
There is an interesting verse in Luke 18. Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?” When you see the faithfulness of God in Romans 11 and realize that His heart is to strengthen our faith, it makes you want to open your heart to receive it. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” Paul said.
I. God is Committed in Advance
- God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and determined in advance that He would bless their children forever.
- He knew they would reject His Messiah; He knows the end before there is a beginning, but His word stands forever and the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.
Jeremiah 31:31, “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”
- The new covenant, through Jesus, is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel and although they would reject that new covenant, God’s word will not fail.
A. God always has a remnant
- The old covenant has come to an end; Jesus is the grand finale. His blood is also the beginning of the new covenant and though most in Israel would reject it, there would be some, a few, who would receive it.
Matthew 7:14, “The gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
- Paul uses himself as an example. He also brings up what happened to Elijah as an example of God keeping for Himself a remnant.
- Remember how he pleaded with God against Israel? They killed the prophets, they tore down the altars! Elijah hid himself thinking he alone was left.
- What was God’s response? He told him to stand on that mountain before the Lord and a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking it in pieces, but the Lord was not in the wind. And then an earthquake and then a fire, and after the fire the sound of a still small voice, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” ... “I have kept for Myself 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
- Elijah was frustrated. He saw the terrible condition of the nation and wanted God to bring some great demonstration of His power and might. “Bring a storm over this land, Lord! Shake these people with a mighty earthquake! Rain down fire from heaven and consume these hardhearted rebels!”
- We want to write the script that God should follow. The script we would write is the one where God moves in the greatness of His power and causes everyone to stand in awe of His might!
- But does that really cause people to believe? Was there a revival after fire fell from heaven at Mount Carmel?
Luke 16:31, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”
- God told Elijah that He had 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. God was speaking to their hearts in a still small voice, and there were some who were listening.
Romans 10:8, But whatdoes it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” —that is, the wordof faithwhichwe are preaching.
- The remnant of Israel was saved according to God graciously calling them out, and if by grace, then no longer is it on the basis of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.
- In other words, grace and works are mutually exclusive. If a person is trying to earn God’s acceptance by their works, then grace has no effect.
Illus - It’s like a young person wanting to be adopted and then mowing the lawn and washing the car hoping to be accepted. No, we adopted our boys and they didn’t have to do a single thing but accept our offer.
- Verse 7 - that which Israel is seeking it has not obtained.
Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
C. Hard hearts get hardened
- Jesus said that if He was lifted up, He would draw all men to himself. Jesus on the cross carried the sin of the world and by God’s amazing grace forgiveness was offered to all.
- Jesus draws all men; He knocks on the door of their heart. But for some, it only makes their heart harder. What hardens their heart? That He continues to knock, that He continues to speak to them about His love.
- Romans 10:21 - “All day long I have stretched out My hands…”
Illus - We had someone in our extended family that was about to make very poor decision and we all tried to open her eyes, but it only made her more determined.
- God speaks to hearts with a still small voice, but many people stop up their years and become dull of hearing.
II. Israel will be Grafted in Again
- In this last set of verses, Paul takes us to the end of the age and informs us that Israel will be restored.
- In fact, we find an amazing verse here, “Therefore all Israel will be saved.” What can this mean?
- When you see God’s heart for Israel that extends His grace to the end of the age, it completely strengthens faith. This world is going crazy, but God has declared the end before the beginning and His sovereignty is over all the nations.
A. Be grafted into Christ; God’s holy tree
- Verses 17-24 - Here Paul compares the natural branches that were broken off, that’s Israel, and the wild olive branches that were grafted in, that’s us, the Gentile followers of Jesus Christ.
- They were broken off for their unbelief, we were grafted in by our faith. Paul wants us to understand this so that we appreciate what we have, we stay humble of heart and don’t have the wrong attitude toward Israel.
- That is exceptionally important to understand because unfortunately throughout the history of the church there’s been a very unfortunate relationship between the church and the Jews. I think you would be surprised how many pastors today are against Israel. At the same time there is a growing trend against Israel throughout our country.
- Verse 25 – “I do not want you to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved.”
- The hardening of Israel; their being cut off from the tree, is only temporary, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Matthew 22:8-9, “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’”
- God knows exactly how many Gentiles will come to the wedding feast and when the last Gentile has come in, God will move to restore Israel.
Illus - It’s like being the 5 millionth visitor to Disneyland. They’re counting the people as they’re coming through.
- I don’t know how much more clear Paul can be than this. God is not finished with Israel. God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.
- But when God restores Israel, they will open their eyes from their blindness and receive their Messiah.
Zechariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son.”
- In other words, they are restored only when they received their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ; and then they will be grafted again into that tree.
- In Isaiah God uses the same image but goes so far as to say that the entire tree is cut down. Rather than pruning a branch here and there, God cuts it down to a stump.
- But from that stump sprouts a stem which turns into a mighty tree…
Isaiah 11:1-10 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse…
- But the question is this, when Christ returns, will He find faith on the earth?
- Verse 33 – when you see the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God and how unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways, your faith is strengthened.
- We are entering into very dangerous days and in all the craziness and turbulence, we need a rock on which to stand, and anchor for our soul.
Romans 11:1-36 NASB
1 I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 "Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life." 4 But what is the divine response to him? "I have kept for Myself seven thousand men whohave not bowed the knee to Baal." 5 In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God's gracious choice. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
7 What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;
26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
"The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob."