God’s Mercy on Israel (Day 24)

Read Romans 11:1-24
   God chose the Jews to be the people through whom the rest of the world could find salvation. But this did not mean the entire Jewish nation would be saved; only those who were faithful to God were considered true Jews. We are saved through faith in Christ, not because we are part of a nation, religion, or family. On whom or what are you depending upon for your salvation? 
   Do you think it is easier for God to love you when you’re good? Do you secretly suspect that God chose you because you deserved it? Do you think some people’s behavior is so bad that God couldn’t possibly save them? If you ever think this way, you don’t entirely understand that salvation is by grace, a free gift. It cannot be earned, in whole or in part; it can only be accepted with thankfulness and praise. 
   God’s punishment for those Jews that did not believe was that God made some unresponsive as a punishment for their sin. It was a conformation of their own stubbornness. In judging them, God removed their ability to see and hear and to turn from sin; thus, they would experience the consequences of their rebellion. 
   Verses 8-10 describe the punishment for unresponsive hearts predicted by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6). If people refuse to hear the Gospel, they eventually will be unable to understand it. Paul saw this happening in the Jewish congregations he visited on his missionary journeys. 
   Paul was appointed as an apostle to the Gentiles. He reminds his Jewish brothers and sisters of this fact, hoping that, they too, would want to be saved. The Jews had been rejected, and thus, Gentiles were being offered salvation. But when a Jew comes to Christ, there is great rejoicing, as if a dead person had come back to life. 
   Paul says in verse 22, that we are to continue to trust in God’s kindness; to have a steadfast perseverance in faith. Steadfastness is a proof of the reality of faith and a by-product of salvation, not a means to it. 
   Speaking to the Gentile Christians, Paul warns them not to feel superior because God rejected some Jews. Abraham’s faith is like the root of a productive tree, and the Jewish people are the tree’s natural branches. Because of faithlessness, some of the Jews have been broken off, and Gentile believers, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. Both Jews and Gentiles share the tree’s nourishment based on faith in God; neither can rest on heritage or culture for salvation. 
   Paul had a vision of a church where all Jews and Gentiles would be united in their love of God and in obedience to Christ. While respecting God’s law, this ideal church would look to Christ alone for salvation. A person’s ethnic background and social status would be irrelevant (Galatians 3). What mattered would be his or her faith in Christ. 
   But Paul’s vision had not yet been realized. For the most part, Jewish people have rejected the Gospel. They have depended on their heritage for salvation, and they do not have the heart of obedience that was so important to the Old Testament prophets and to Paul. Once Gentiles became dominant in many of the Christian churches, they began rejecting Jews and even persecuting them. Unfortunately, this practiced has recurred through the centuries. 
   True Christians should not persecute or bully others. Both Gentiles and Jews have done so much to damage the cause of Christ, whom they claim to serve, that’s Paul’s vision often seems impossible to fulfill. One of the biggest persecutors of Christians in Church History has been the church itself. Yet God chose the Jews, just as He chose the Gentiles, and He is still working to unite Jew and Gentiles so they become a holy temple where God lives by His Spirit (Ephesians 2).