The Remnant Of Israel
Israel’s Judgement
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 52c of 83


1  I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2  God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.…” (Romans 11:1-10).

[In the first two instalments of this study, we considered Paul’s argument that God has not cast off Israel totally, and yet salvation is entirely according to God’s grace of election. Therefore being an Israelite does not in any way  mean that the person is more likely to be saved. In this concluding instalment, we see Paul’s argument that Israel has ceased to be God’s external covenant people due to their general rejection of Christ. —JJL]

3. Israel’s Judgement

In the Old Covenant, the nation of Israel was the people of God. But she was the people of God only because God had appointed that all His elect should be nurtured in her for the time being.

She was the basket in which God carried his elect. She was the wheat field in which God cultivated His wheat. She was the flock in which God shepherded His sheep and lambs.

So although she was the people of God, God did not save everyone in her. Only the elect was saved. Only the elect were regenerated, whereas the rest remained spiritually blind.

Paul puts it this way in verses 7-8—

7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election [i.e. the elect remnant] hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded  8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

In verse 8, Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 29:4. Turn to the passage.

You will realise from verse 1, that Moses was making a covenant renewal with the people. He was speaking God’s “words of the covenant” to the people. This is the second generation of the children of Israel who came out of Egypt. The first generation had died in the desert after forty years of wandering. God is speaking to those who were twenty years old and below when the nation first left Egypt.

Moses says in verse 2—

2b Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; 3 The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles” (Dt 29:2-3).

But verse 4—

“Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness &c” (Dt 29:4-5).

Now, this is surprising isn’t it? God had led the whole nation out of Egypt and they had been wandering for forty years. They had seen the power of God displayed in wonderful miracles. But Moses is saying that the nation is generally still not converted. Most, if not all, remained in unbelief and blindness.

What is Paul seeking to show by referring to this declaration of Moses? He is showing, is he not, that though Israel was God’s people, it did not mean that God was obliged to save everyone in her?

Only the elect were saved. God always had his elect. Moses, Joshua and Caleb would certainly be amongst the elect. The elect were given a quickening spirit, and eyes to see and ears to hear.

But the rest were passed by. The nation is known as God’s people because the elect was being raised in her.

Now, at various stages in the history of Israel, there would have been more or fewer number of the elect. But by the time of the apostle Paul, something else had happened in Israel, which prompted God to cease to nurture the nation of Israel as His people.

What happen? What happened was prophesied by David. Paul quotes David in verse 9 as saying—

9 …Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.

When was this fulfilled? Where are these words taken from? They are from Psalm 69. Let’s look at the context. Paul is quoting from verse 22-23. But notice the verse before that?

21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

When did that happen? It is clear isn’t it? It happened when our Lord was hanging on the Cross!

And look at verse 25—

25 Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.

How was this prophecy fulfilled? It was fulfilled in the suicide of Judas Iscariot! For in Acts 1:25, Luke describing the suicide of Judas Iscariot explains that it fulfils this very verse.

So then, what is Paul saying in quoting David in verses 9-10?

He is saying, is he not, that the nation of Israel, or at least the majority in the nation, is under a curse like Judas Iscariot for crucifying the Messiah!

They had rejected the Messiah. They even had the audacity to call a curse upon themselves to force Pilate to crucify the Lord: “His blood be on us and on our children” (Mt 27:25), they cried.

For this they are being judged with spiritual hardening. Their table which should nourish them is turned into a trap. The Messiah who should be their Saviour has become their judge and executioner. The Rock of Salvation has become a stone of stumbling. The same sun that softens the wax also hardens the clay.

The eyes of their heart which if opened could see the Saviour, were not opened. Instead they were darkened. Their backs should be upright in that they should be enjoying God’s heavenly smile. Instead, they are bowed down in carnality and worldly-mindedness.

They are a people under a divine curse.  The psalmist in the same place quoted by Paul says:

 “24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.… 27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness.  28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous” (Ps 69:24, 27-28)

God has not cast away Israel completely, but the nation is being judged and sadly most of her members will remain in unbelief.

Conclusion

What shall we say to these things?

Firstly, let us take note of what the Scripture teaches about Israel that we do not make the mistake of thinking that the nation of Israel in Palestine is still God’s people—and so they should have special privileges compared to other nations in the world. No, no, Israel in Palestine is a godless nation. In that they have rejected Christ, their God is not very different from the God of Islam.

Yes, for the sake of the fathers, there will be some Jewish elect in every generation, but salvation is entirely by grace and not by works. Therefore there is no difference between being a Jew or a Gentile.

So let us disabuse our minds of the false thinking that somehow Jewish Christians are more valuable in God’s sight than Gentile Christians. I heard a minister teach that there will be an earthly millennium in which the Jews will be the government officers, but Gentiles will be road sweepers and storekeepers. We do not denigrate the role of road sweepers and storekeepers in society. They are legitimate callings. But in suggesting that Gentiles will have those roles in the millennium, the minister was clearly suggesting that Gentiles will be second class citizens. Perhaps he thought that by such a notion and expectation, we would be exalting the Jews and honouring God who called them to be His people. But this pernicious doctrine simply cannot be fitted into the theology of the apostle Paul.

Nevertheless, secondly, let me remind you that as members of the church, you are tremendously privileged compared to those outside the church. You are as privileged as the Jews were under the Old Covenant.

But do not take your privilege for granted. The Israelites failed to understand that being Israelites did not make them more saveable. Salvation is not by works nor by association. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. All who are saved must have a personal relationship with the Saviour.

Do you know the Lord personally? Do you love Him and His ordinance? Or do you find public worship a boring thing? Would you rather be playing your phone games or watching TV? O Christian, you belong to Christ!

Take warning if you are not serious about your Christianity, for the Lord says: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Lk 13:24).

Have you bowed your knees to Baal or to the Internet? Your table will be a snare. Is your back bent in worldliness? Unless you repent, you are in a very precarious situation. Will you not repent of your sin and ask the Lord to spare you—lest a curse be upon your head as it was upon the children of Israel.

But thirdly, let us remember that God will always have His elect remnant. Do not make the mistake of Elijah in thinking that God could not raise up His people in the environment of apostasy. How many elect are there today in the apostate churches in the world, we do not know. How many are in Israel, we do not know. We must pray for them.

Let us pray for God’s elect in Israel. Let us pray for God’s elect in the apostate churches, that they may be led out to the truth. Let us pray that the sheep and lambs of Christ everywhere will hear His voice calling out to them and so come out to Him and follow after Him. Amen.

—JJ Lim