Israel’s Rejection Not Total
1 I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 “LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? (1 Kings 19:10, 14) 4 But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”(1 Kings 19:18) 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
7 What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8 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.” (Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 29:10)
9 And David says:
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
A stumbling block and a recompense to them.
10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see,
And bow down their back always.” (Psalm 69:22-23)
God has not rejected the Israelites. He has rejected those who refuse to obey His commandments – Israelite or not. God has had a special relationship with the Abraham and his decendants since He promised that He’d be with them forever (Genesis 12:1-3). God’s stipulation, however, has been faith from the beginning. what does this mean for the Israelite in this portion of text? It means that they need to check their hearts and be sure that they’re in a right relationship with God. When Jesus came, He did not come to condemn the Jews, but rather to save them from their futile religiosity that they had built for themselves. They were depending on their religious works and their temple ceremonies to save them when salvation comes from the Lord whom they had abandoned. God knows and judges the hearts of people, not their religious works. David understood this:
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart-
These, O God, You will not despise.
Why have these religious Jews rejected this? In my opinion, from experience with religious people from a lot of other denominations, churches, and cults, the issue lies not with what is being taught but with the desire of men and women to EARN their salvation. If we’re offered a free gift we look for strings attached. If there are non, we simply return the “favor” at some later date. Our lives are built around systems of payment and receipt. When God comes to us and says that we are now able to be forgiven for our sins agains Him, our first inclination is to some how pay Him back. How can we pay Him back? A million, million years of religious work won’t do anything for you because you can’t “un-sin” against God. Think about it – how can you make right with God a sin like lying? You can confess it to God and the people you have lied to but the act has already been committed. It can’t be taken back. Ok, let’s take this further – how can you make right with God sexual sins that are played out in the mind? Remember, Jesus said that if you even look with lust you’ve committed adultery in your heart (Matthew 5:27-28) – how can you “un-think” that? What about all the violent or atrocious things you’ve thought in your mind while you were angry at someone? God will judge the content of your heart and it’s the heart that devises those horrible things. We cannot repay God for what He has done on our behalf. We can never be worthy of receiving this gift – we need to come to Him, just as we are, and lay our life on the altar for Him. God will take your sins from you and will restore you in His sight – never to look on your sin again – past, present, or future. From then on, you are to live by His standard, and not your own. This is what the Israelites failed to see. How did they fail to see this? God blinded them to the truth. These are the very people who were given the law of God through Moses, who were led through the Red Sea on dry ground, who have seen God’s provision in the middle of the desert, who have seen the signs and wonders of the prophets and who have the whole of God’s word laid out before them pointing to the Messiah to come in Jesus Christ. The only way that they would not be able to see this is if God is blinding them from seeing it. Who then can see it? Those whom God chooses to save. That’s the doctrine of election in a nutshell.