Sunday, March 11, 2012
Paul talks about Elijah and says, God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.
In Romans 11:4-5 Paul talks about Elijah and says, God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.
From the early days of Christianity there was a misunderstand about God’s promises to Israel. Paul understood, that everything stands or falls on the promises of God to Israel. Paul wanted to rid any idea that God was not keeping those promises completely.
Nationalistic Israel has rejected their Messiah and some thought God had rejected all of Israel. Thus, the logical question is this: HAS GOD REJECTED THEM? "Has God cast away His people?" Paul’s answer this question with a strong NO: God forbid! May such a thought has never entered our minds! Perish the thought! (Romans 11:2-3) Paul’s main argument in this chapter is made up of two parts:
1) God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Paul is actually quoting from the Old Testament. Read 1 Samuel 12:22 and Psalms 94:14. Paul offers himself as the number one proof that God has not cast away His people. I am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. Phil. 3:5)
This is important because there are those today who wrongly teach the Church is God’s plan B. According to this popular view, God's clock ran flawlessly until the coming of the Messiah. Then suddenly the clock stopped ticking because Israel failed to accept their Messiah, something that was not foreseen by the Omniscient God. God knew the Jews would reject their Messiah. Daniel 9 tells us that the Messiah would be cut off, or killed, and Isaiah 53 speaks of the suffering servant.
God had to change His plans to plan B the Church. During the ensuing parenthesis of time, God turned His focus to the Gentiles and created the Church. The Church, you see, was only a parenthetical stop gap unseen by the Old Testament prophets. As a result, the kingdom is no longer near, but postponed." At the end of the Church age (never mind the Bible says the Church age has no end. ) Daniel 7:14; Hebrews 13:20.
God well then again start the clock and deal with the Jews. National Israel will replace the church, at the end of the age. However, God’s plans for Israel was right on track. Paul’s main argument is he is an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. The Church is not plan B. There were no gentiles in the Church for the first ten years.
2) At that present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. Paul was familiar with the Old Testament and he knows the history of Israel. The word remnant originates from the Hebrew, and it comes from three Hebrew words. First, peletah or palet, meaning "what escapes," "those who escape," or "to escape." The second Hebrew word she'erith or she'ar, meaning "the rest" or "what remains," "the remainder," "the remnant." And the third Hebrew word yether, "what remains," "remainder" or "remnant."
Paul also goes into this history of Israel in Romans 11:3-4 When Elijah said, "They have killed Thy prophets, and digged (torn) down Thine altars..." he was referring to the children of Israel (1 Kings 19:10). These were dark days in the history of Israel (the northern kingdom). The king, Ahab, and his wicked, pagan wife Jezebel were leading the people away from the true worship of Jehovah to the false worship of Baal (the Canaanite fertility god).
It was a time of great apostasy for the Israelites in general. Elijah felt that he was standing all alone. He felt that he was the only one left who was still honoring Jehovah, the true God. Everyone seemed to be a Baal worshipper except for himself. But Elijah was mistaken and God had to correct him. God’s answer to Elijah is found in 1 Kings 19:18 "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." Apparently Elijah did not know of their existence, but God knew who they were and where they were and how many there were.
John, Peter, Matthew and thousands of other Jews who trusted Christ were apart of that present day remnant according to the election of grace. These Jews believed on Christ and they had been chosen by God "not according to (their) works, but according to His own purpose and GRACE." 2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
In the days of Paul, not all Jews were saved. Only a remnant (see Romans 9:27). Thank God for His gracious dealing with the Jews, even after they had crucified His Son! Instead of casting away His people, God graciously reached down and saved a remnant! "To the praise of the glory of His grace" (Ephesians1:6). God in His grace even made sure that the gospel went "to the Jew first" (Romans. 1:16)
4) Israel’s blindness is in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. The majority of Jews did not believe on Christ and Paul was a part of that majority. Paul was once blind, when he had fiercely persecuted the church of God! The New Testament tells us more about the Apostle Paul than it does about all of the other 12 disciples put together! To study this man's life in detail would require a book, not just a brief chapter. Before he was saved, we find that he was called SAUL.
Saul was a very religious Jew. He describes his religious life in (Philippians 3:4-6). He came from a religious Jewish home; he was circumcised as a little baby; he did everything that a religious Jew was supposed to do; and he did so well at keeping the Ten Commandments that no one could accuse him of breaking any of them (see Phil. 3:6). According to his own words, what did Saul do when he was religious and blond and an unsaved man (see Galatians 1:13; Phil. 3:6 and 1 Corinthians 15:9)? Saul was a great enemy of the Church. Saul wanted to destroy the spread of Christianity. At this point in his life, Saul did not believe that Jesus was God.
On the day that Stephen was stoned to death, who was standing by applauding the whole thing (Acts 7:57-58) He would search houses for Christians whom he would drag away to (Acts 8:3). When it came to hurting and harming Christians, Saul was like a fire-breathing dragon (see Acts 9:1-2).
In 1 Timothy 1:13 Paul describes the kind of man he was in those days before he was saved. Notice the three words that he uses: A Blasphemer. To "blaspheme" means to speak against someone with hateful and hurtful language. What wonderful Name do you think Saul spoke against (Acts 26:9)? He not only blasphemed Christ, but he forced others to do the same thing (Acts 26:11). Saul was injurious. This word means he was violent and "mad" and aggressive, seeking only to harm and to injure. He was glad to see Christians put to death and shut up in prison, and he was glad to punish them whenever he could (Acts 26:10).
Saul persecuted and chased after every believer he could find. When he was saved, Saul discovered who it was that he was really persecuting. Acts 26:13-15 "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. "And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. "So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
If you had been a believer living back in those days, you probably would have thought of Saul as the very last person who would ever be saved. You would have probably said something like this: He is the church's greatest enemy! He has made up his mind to destroy us all, and nothing or no one will ever change his mind. There is no hope for this man." However, with God all things are possible.
Saul was converted! He had been going the wrong way, but suddenly something happened that made this man do a complete turnabout! The conversion of Saul is described in three places in the book of Acts: Acts 9:1-9; Acts 22:1-11 and Acts 26:1-18. Saul was a changed man. Saul the great enemy of the church had become Paul the great Apostle of the Church. The word "APOSTLE" means "one who is SENT." The Lord had a very special ministry for the Apostle Paul. Throughout the Roman empire Paul preached to the Gentiles (those who were not Jews; see Ephesians 3:8) and told them about the Christ who had saved them and made them members in His body, the church.