There Is Still Hope!

Opening Prayer

I praise You, Loving God, for Your kindness to me. You didn’t have to give me anything, You don’t have to love me—but You do.

Read Romans 11:1–24

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”

9 And David says:

“May their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.”

Ingrafted Branches
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Reflect

Spend some time reflecting on verse 22. How have you experienced the kindness of God?

Paul was systematic in his missionary method. When going to a new town he would first look for the resident Jewish community and try to share his message with them. Only later would he go to the non-Jews. We see this pattern throughout the Acts of the Apostles. The good news was “first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (1:16). The reason was clear: Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfillment of the Jewish hope. God’s revelation throughout their history had been pointing to Jesus. And yet, contrary to expectations, there was not a mass turning to Christ among the Jewish people. What was happening?

Had God rejected his people (1)? Certainly not! God always has more people than we imagine and in Israel’s case there is a “remnant” open to his grace (2–6). However, many Jews, like Paul himself before his conversion, remained resistant (7–10).

Now Paul has to address the non-Jewish Christians. They are in danger of becoming arrogant and conceited. However, they need to remember that they are “honorary Israelites” like a graft of a wild olive branch into an ancient tree (17). Paul’s hope is that his fellow Jews will see Gentiles enjoying God’s grace and be drawn, even by envy, to respond to the Gospel themselves.

Apply

Have you become arrogant or conceited in your faith? Do you take God’s grace for granted? Allow God to search your heart today.

Closing prayer

Do you have Jewish friends, neighbors or colleagues? Pray for them and ask God to show you how to show them his kindness.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider