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Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Gospel of God's Grace # 68

A Study of the Epistle to the Romans

The Experience of Merciful Purpose in Reception

The theme of the concluding chapter of Paul's discussion of the Jewish nation is stated in the first verse. It is in the form of a question: "Hath God cast away His people?"

The reference is certainly to the nation of Israel and not to the election with Israel. it would be foolish to conclude that this means the election within Israel, for certainly God has not cast away those Jews who believed and composed the election. This fact will be all the more clear if you will look at the last verse of the preceding chapter: "A disobedient and gainsaying people" - the nation of Israel itself. God is speaking of national Israel. Paul has already shown that the church is here now in view. Even though there may be a few Israelites in whom the promises of God can be fulfilled, they are in the church.

Now the Jew would say, "If all Paul has been saying in chapter 9 and 10 is true, then God is through with Israel as a nation." So Paul takes up that question right here and faces it squarely. The whole of this chapter can be summed up in two statements: 1. Paul shows first that the rejection of Israel is not total, but partial; 2. Paul demonstrates that even this partial rejection of Israel is not final, but only temporary.

This question in the first verse suggests the outline of the chapter. Paul asks, "Hath God cast off His people?" and in answering, states and develops three facts here: 1. there is a present election which proves God has not cast them off (vv. 1-10); 2. there will be a future reception (vv. 11-24); 3. there will be a final salvation of Israel (vv. 25-32).

After his answer, Paul concludes with a doxology, which is a conclusion not only to this chapter and this section, but to perhaps the most wonderful doxology in Scriptures.

Each of these three points has a key verse; and that key verse has a phrase that suggests its contents. In verse 15 - "What shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?" The nation that is cast away will someday be received. Look at verses 25-26 - All Israel shall be saved finally. This will be the final salvation, or the total salvation.

Hath God Cast Off His People?

What, in two words, is Paul's answer? "God forbid!" For there is a present election (vv. 1-10).

Now, the Apostle Paul knew the Old Testament Scriptures. He could have turned back and quoted from the Old Testament a good many times. The issues here are vital. In fact, the interpretation of this eleventh chapter will settle one of two methods of interpretation.

There is a school of thought in Christendom which says that in the church of God has fulfilled everything in the Old Testament and there is no future for the Jew as a nation. But the opposing view is that God has set Israel aside for an age, and at some future time (in the next age) God will fulfill to the letter every promise He has made to Israel as a nation.

That second view is the right one, and to show that it is the right view, let us examine some passages from the Old Testament. "If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever" (Jeremiah 31:36). He ties up His promises to Israel with the very stars in the heavens and the planets. "If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord." He uses the very words that Paul does, "cast off." It is not that they have not done enough to be cast off. They have. But God in mercy remembers His promises to their fathers. In Jeremiah 33:24 there is a taunt. Some of the heathen had seen what God had done to His people and here is what they said: "The two families [Judah and Israel] which the Lord hath chosen, He hath even cast them off?" But here is God's answer: "Thus saith the Lord; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant ... I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them" (Jeremiah 33:26).

But that is not enough. Paul shows some evidence that God has not cast off His people. First he takes his own case. Was Paul cast off? He certainly was not! He was enjoying the promises of God. Paul used his own case to show the Jew that God has not cast off the Jew entirely. Second Paul points to God's foreknowledge. Christians rejoice in the fact that "whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate ... whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified." If God's foreknowledge of us as individuals cannot fail, neither can it fail when it comes to this nation of Israel which He foreknew in ages past. So it is a fact that His foreknowledge does not allow Him to cast them off; they may be set aside, but He will bring them back.

~Alva J. McClain~

(continued with # 69)

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