Romans 11:1-10- The Remnant of Israel
Explanation- Here Paul begins his defense of the remnant of Israel. It would be a damnable heresy to say that God has rejected His people, for if He had, then His promises would be untrue, and He would thus be unfit for the role that He is in. This can never be! The very fact that Paul is writing these things and has received the gift of salvation is evidence in itself that God has not forsaken His people. This is not a new concept; God has always held a remnant within Israel. To further illustrate this point, Paul points back to an event that happened in the life of Elijah, the prophet. Elijah, after having been stricken with fear by that wicked Jezebel, cries out to the Lord, believing himself to be the last of God’s people around. God responds to this by informing Elijah that He has, ‘seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ This seven thousand was the remnant of God at the time. Realistically, there were probably some several million Jews living in Israel at this time, but only seven thousand of them bore the mark of God and were under the covenant of His grace. This is the way that God has always chosen to work when it comes to redemption.
So then a vast majority of Israel has failed to obtain the election of God. Certainly, the elect remnant has obtained salvation, but the rest have been hardened to fulfill what was written in the Old Testament.
Application- God has not fallen short on His promise. He has always saved by faith, and that faith has always been obtained by the remnant. It is not as if God, at one time, saved through works and is now saving by faith, but righteous living has always been experienced through a life of faith. This is not to say that Israel has been completely cast off, for as we already discussed, Paul’s salvation is evidence that God is still in the business of saving those of Jewish descent. Despite the massive inclusion of Gentile nations, there are still those from national Israel who obtain salvation (although it seems to be significantly less. God has not turned His back on His covenant people but has allowed a temporal hardening so that the world may receive the gift of salvation. In this, we should be humbled as we consider the goodness and severity of God, which Paul will further express in our next section.