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The Remnant of Israel April 17, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,

Here are my thoughts on Romans 11:1-10.

Summary: Paul begins this passage by asking whether it can be inferred from the preceding discussion that God has rejected all of the Jews. Clearly this is not the case, and the proof lies in the fact that Paul himself was a Jew. In fact, God – in His sovereignty – set apart a small subset of the Jews to be saved. This concept of a “righteous remnant” is best exemplified by the events during the life of Elijah, when most of Israel worshiped Baal and turned away from God. God responded to Elijah’s appeal by stating that He would preserve seven thousand of the Israelites, since they had remained faithful to Him. Moreover, at the time of the writing of this epistle, Paul notes that the number of believing Jews was much larger than expected. Clearly these believing Jews were set apart by God’s grace – not by their own merit – and He admits them to the kingdom of the Messiah. On the other hand, the rest of the Jews earnestly pursued righteousness, yet they did not obtain it and were made insensible to the Gospel message and its calling. In some sense, the insensibility of the Jews to God and His method for obtaining righteousness became more pronounced in the New Testament era, since they rejected the Messiah. Paul then concludes by quoting from the Psalms, where he applies the judgments that David pronounces on his enemies to the Jews – who are essentially the enemies of Christ.

Thoughts: This passage is rather encouraging in the sense that even though God – in His sovereignty – could have rejected all of the Jews, He chose to save at least some of them. While reading this passage I thought about groups such as the Messianic Jews and Jews for Jesus. Whether it is possible to both hold to the intricacies of the Mosaic Law and believe in the divinity of Jesus is an interesting question; after all, did He not come to this earth to fulfill and abolish the Law? One thought on this issue goes as follows: as Christians, we still hold to the timeless principles that are inherent to the Ten Commandments, and God has not provided any specific guidance regarding which aspects of the Mosaic Law are still relevant today.

Verses 9 and 10 contain quotations from Psalm 69, where David pronounces judgments on his enemies. Hodge offers some thoughts on this underrated Psalm as follows:

No part of the Old Testament Scriptures is more frequently referred to as a description of our Lord’s sufferings than Psalms 69 and 22. There is nothing in this Psalm which prevents its being considered as a prophetic lamentation of the Messiah over his afflictions and a denunciation of God’s judgments on his enemies. Verse 9, ‘for zeal for your house consumes me,’ and verse 21, ‘They…gave me vinegar for my thirst’ are elsewhere quoted and applied to Christ.

Over the course of my Bible reading, I have not engaged in a serious study of the Psalms, as the number of verses to be digested, especially in Psalm 119, is rather intimidating. This passage reminds me of the rich treasure trove that lies in the Psalms that are discussed rather infrequently in church. In some sense, the Bible is a gift that keeps on giving; those who study it can learn something new every day.



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