What About Israel?  A Lesson in Grace

An exposition of romansRomans 11:1-36. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, March 14, 2010.

It has been a theological battleground for centuries.  In more recent times it has been a point of heated debate, inflamed rhetoric and a test of orthodoxy.  What about Israel?  Are the Jews still God’s “chosen people” or has the church replaced Israel as the people of God?  Have the Jews “sinned” away their opportunity so that God has turned His back on them or is there a future glory?  It is an emotionally charged issue.  People tend to hold firm convictions on this.  Good and godly people have stood on both sides of the issue and both sides have their extremists.  On the side, of those who believe the Jews remain God’s chosen, are those who in essence believe that the church will be raptured out and God will pick up where He left off with Israel and they will reestablish temple worship and salvation will come through Old Testament means.  On the other hand are those extremists who believe there is no future whatsoever for the Jews, that they have been written off.  I can’t square either of these two views with what the Bible teaches.  I’ve stated before and I’ll restate it now, “I do not believe that God has two people.”  Historical, traditional dispensationalism teaches that the Jews and the church are two separate peoples.  Dispensationalism says the church is a parenthesis in God’s plan.  He set aside what He was doing, inserted the church, will take the church out of the picture and pick up where He left off.  The spiritual blessings and promises given to Abraham are given to the church but the earthly promises (the land, kingdoms etc) belong to the Jews.  As I read the Scripture God has a people all of whom are children of promise, heirs of Abraham by faith, Jews and Gentiles.  Now, does that mean I believe God is finished with the Jews?  You are going to have to stay tuned to find out.  Our text this morning is found in Romans chapter 11.

Text: Romans 11:1-36
Paul is setting forth his gospel.
This is the message he is preaching on his travels and in his writings.

He spends the first 8 chapters showing we are sinners, God has made provision in Christ, we have to embrace that gift by faith, that gift transforms us, and we cannot lose it.

Then in chapters 9-11 he deals with the question of the Jews.
What about Israel?
Are they God’s people or not?
Has God failed in keeping them?
Has God been faithful?

These chapters are not without controversy and many choose to skip over them.  That would be a mistake.  There are important lessons for us in these chapters.  Lessons about God’s mercy and grace.  We must not approach these chapters only to answer the question of whether the Jews are “in” or “out” for to do so is to miss the greater issue.  To do so is to miss the beautiful portrait of God found in these chapters.

In fact here is what I want you to see in Romans 11…

Thesis: When responding to questions concerning Israel’s future, Paul’s answer causes us to look beyond the surface and stand in awe of God’s great and gracious work.

The real issue is not Israel – it is God.
The approach ought not to be, “What about Israel” but “What about God?”
If Israel is in – why are they in?
If Israel is out – why are they out?
If they are in is it because of Israel or because of God?
If they are out is it God’s fault or is Israel to blame?
This book is about God.

With that in mind allow me to point out three things we learn about God as we work our way through Romans 11.

  1. God always remains faithful to His word and His people.  (11:1-6)
  2. Even His judgment is ultimately for the good of His people.  (11:7-24)
  3. God works in such a way that our only response is to stand in awe of His grace.  (11:25-36)

Paul began Romans 9 with a heartfelt lament for the state of his people.  By the time he ended his discussion of Israel’s future in Romans 11 and considered the glorious possibility that God was not finished with Israel, Paul’s heart was stirred to a glorious doxology – 11:33-36.

Is there a future for Israel?  You bet there is by God’s grace and for His glory.

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