Romans 11: 1-10 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.’ But what is the divine reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,
‘God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’
And David says,
‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling-block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs for ever bent.’
Reflection When I read Paul’s letter to the Romans – I am struck immediately by the evident doubt that these, probably fledgeling, believers must have demonstrated. Have you never felt doubt? Have you never thought that God was distanced from you and your prayers were just words in your head that no-one was listening to? I certainly have!
Paul tells those early believers, fragile in their faith, that their belief has continued, passing from generation to generation of Jewish people. He goes on to remind them of the fact that he himself is descended from the tribe of Benjamin and therefore a Jew.
He goes on to tell them that many Jews failed – but this does not mean they will lose our salvation, or that they will not recover. If it did, it would mean Christ’s death was for nothing, and the Holy Spirit is asleep. God still has them in his hands.
Paul reminds them that even in the darkest days of Israel’s past, there was always a remnant who loved and trusted God. He gave them a firm warning not to be prideful in their faith, thinking they deserved it or that they are better than others. They are not! They are saved because of His grace and choosing only, nothing of what they might think they have earned, so they have no reason to boast or brag. They are to exercise humbleness and reset themselves to the example of Jesus Christ, His example of goodness. They may not understand God’s plans and purposes, but they can rest assured in His love, that He is there loving them even when they do not feel it or see it; He is there! Glorious times will come – if not in this life, then in the life to come.
We must hear Paul’s voice through the ages, and apply it to ourselves also.
Prayer Loving Father, I praise You that You have shown Yourself faithful to Your people, throughout all generations. Help me to be strong in You and to rely on You in all the problems of life that I may face. I know that You are with me wherever I go. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Ann Barton – Lay Leader at Whittlesford LEP in the Eastern synod