God Has Not Rejected His People
Open Your Bible
Romans 11:1-36, Hosea 14:4-7, 1 Peter 2:7-10
Back in my big hair days, one of the challenges of going to church camp was that we had to bring butane curling irons so as not to blow the circuits…as big-haired girls could do. (I’m still unsure how fueling an object intended to curl hair with a highly flammable gas was a good idea?) But good hair wasn’t my only priority at camp. I also felt a burden to confess a sin I feared had permanently separated me from Jesus.
That church camp girl with the perfectly curled bangs didn’t understand mercy. She didn’t understand how it works to be fully, eternally grafted in (Romans 11:19).
When I read Romans 11 now, I linger over Paul’s description of God’s unrelenting, undeserved mercy for Israel, even as they stumbled and rejected Jesus (1Peter 2:8). I rejoice that His plans for Israel stay, that His covenant remains still. What delight that, “He has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Romans 11:2).
This chapter offers a celebration for that church camp girl, and a (perhaps cautionary) reminder for her older self.
Because I confess, even as the memory of such palpable relief after my own stumbling floods back, at times I’ve felt self-satisfied. Now that I know I’m chosen (1Peter 2:9), there are days when I could be one Paul is speaking to when he says, “do not boast that you are better than those branches….you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you,” (Romans 11:18).
I think back to standing with my counselor with a humbled, grateful heart. God’s kindness, so unmerited yet unsparing, felt physical. It’s that same kindness and love that holds us all on the tree, through no achievement of our own (vv.21–22).
We’ve all disobeyed, and yet we can receive His mercy—because Israel’s disobedience made room for ours (vv.30–31). He called us all out of the darkness into the light (1Peter 2:9).
So then, Romans 11 is a banner of praise and a litany of thanksgiving as we see God’s faithful heart for all of His branches. His care to rescue the broken branches of Israel and His compassion to graft in the wild branches of the Gentiles, place both Jew and Gentile at the mercy of the tree. As mere branches (not roots), we grow because of who we are attached to. He preserves and revives (Hosea 14:6).
No, He has not rejected His people. Through the work done on another tree on the hill of Calvary, He eternally grafted in the wild branches who chose Him by faith yet still holds a place for His beloved Israel.
His gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable. Because from Him, through Him, and to Him is everything (Romans 11:29,36).