To those who refuse to accept the message of God’s salvation, what happens? Does God then reject them and walk away?
What do you do?
“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.” (Romans 11 v 1)
How do we respond to our ‘Israelites’ who do not accept the message? Does God give up on them? That’s the question Paul answers by simply stating he made it, he got there in the end, he accepted the message and he was as Jewish as they come! God doesn’t abandon people.
Paul is there leading the Church, within the covenant of the Church and at the centre of the Church. Look at him and you realise that God never gives up. He keeps on reaching and so must we. For ‘they’ do make it in the end. If Paul could make it then there is hope for the others.
There are times when we lose all hope that our loved ‘Israel’ will turn to God and accept the message. Paul knows this and says, “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: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved 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. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11 v 2-6)
God comes to a man just like you and me, Elijah, who is feeling sorry for himself and angry with Israel because no one is listening to him. How many of us have felt like that? If God rejected permanently Israel then we would understand for look at what they have done towards the prophets and of course Jesus the Messiah. Elijah enters into a self-pity moment. He reminds Elijah and would remind us that He has not stopped working. He has reserved a remnant of true followers. Israel will survive. But it will not be because of anything they do but entirely of His grace. Basically God reserves an ‘Israel’ within an Israel, a group of true followers with nothing to do with their own efforts but all of His love and choosing. The reason? The work continues. The covenant of God continues. His heart for Israel continues.
And so as we copy Him with our rejecting-perhaps ‘Israel’ we:
- Do not abandon anyone. It is surprising who makes it in the end, look at Paul.
- Do not enter into self-pity when God hasn’t stopped working, look at Elijah.
- Do not look at your own or their strength, it is all grace anyway, look at covenant Israel.