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. – Romans 11:1-6
The centerpiece of Paul’s Letter to the Romans is the assurance that God can be trusted, that God is not fickle or subject to change his mind. Paul anchors his writing, his theology, his faith in the sovereignty of God, the righteousness of God, the compassion and mercy of God, and the eternal will of God.
As the Christian faith spread wildly in Gentile areas and more slowly among the Jews, especially among the powerful and influential leaders in Judaism, the question arose, “has God rejected his people?” Paul’s answer was clear and direct, ”Absolutely not!”
Paul supports his strong assertion that God had not rejected his people, first by his own personal example. Paul was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, and God had not only not rejected Paul, but had fully accepted him and had called him into his service to spread the Gospel. Paul then offers an historical perspective to demonstrate God’s faithfulness. Back in the days of Elijah, the Jewish power-holders and institutions had rejected God in extreme ways by killing prophets, destroying worship centers, and turning to pagan gods. But Paul reminds his Roman readers that even though the leaders and institutions had failed, God was faithful. God never gave up on his people, and he held tightly the faithful remnant who did not reject him. They may not have been numerous or powerful or influential, but God did not turn away from them, and they did not turn away from God.
Paul declares that God’s truth and grace prevailed then, and they prevail now – not because of majority rule or popular vote, but only because God reigns supreme. God holds true to his word. He always has; he always will. And Paul fully expects God to pour out his grace and truth to both the Jew and the Gentile until his will is fully accomplished throughout the universe. Though institutions and leaders and popular opinion are fickle and turn away, there is one thing we can be certain of – great is God’s faithfulness!
…this I call to mind,and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. Amen. - Lamentations 3:21-23
A Bible study devotional by Gorman Houston