What Does God Think of the Jews?
Romans 11.25-32 / Galatians 3.26-29
Dr. Jim Denison
A small boy was visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with in the woods. Heading back to dinner, he saw Grandma’s pet duck. Out of impulse, he shot a rock at it, hit the duck in the head, and killed it. He was shocked and grieved. In panic, he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.
After lunch that day Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes.” But Sally said, “Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today, didn’t you Johnny?” Then she whispered to him, “Remember the duck?” So Johnny did the dishes.
Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, and Grandma said, “I’m sorry but I need Sally to help make supper.” But Sally smiled and said, “But Johnny told me he wanted to help you.” And she whispered again, “Remember the duck?” So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed.
After days of doing his and Sally’s chores, Johnny couldn’t stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed her duck. She knelt down, gave him a hug, and said, “I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. But I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.”
Where does guilt live in your mind or heart? What past failures sting you? What secrets from your past still shame you? Where does your past enslave you?
Are you living with failure and wondering if you’re forgiven? Are you facing tough times and wondering if you’re being punished? Does your past poison your present?
It’s been said that to live with guilt is like being stung to death by a single bee. How do we remove that stinger today?
Did God still love them?
This is precisely the question Paul answers in the Scriptures which are before us. No one ever had better reason to wonder if God loved them than the Jews.
Through Abraham, God chose the Jewish nation as his instrument for bringing the good news of his love to all of mankind (see Genesis 12:3).
But along the way, the Jewish nation had every reason to wonder if they were really his chosen people, if God truly loved them. 430 years in Egyptian slavery, 40 years of wilderness wandering, and seven years of bloodshed and suffering as they conquered their Holy Land. Then civil war which divided the nation permanently. Then Assyrian conquest which destroyed their ten northern tribes. Then Babylonian conquest which enslaved their two southern tribes. Then oppression by the Greeks and finally enslavement by the Romans.
Worst of all, God is now receiving the hated Gentiles as his people. The Christians are preaching the story of their Messiah to the Gentile world, and these cursed pagans are coming to faith in Israel’s God.
It seems that God has abandoned the Jewish people, turned from them, rejected them. The Jews have every reason to wonder if God still loves them. Maybe you feel the same way today. Hear then, this word from your Father in heaven.
Does God still love us?
Here is the central fact from our text: though the Jews have rejected the Messiah, he has not rejected them.
Paul says, “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles come in” (v. 25b). The “hardening” here is spiritual, that hardening of the arteries of the soul which comes from refusing the gospel.
Because the Jews rejected Christ, his followers turned to the Gentiles. His church took the gospel to the Gentile world. With this result: the “full number of the Gentiles,” meaning the entire Gentile world, could “come in” to God’s kingdom.
So God used the Jewish refusal of Christ, but Christ has not refused them.
“And so all Israel will be saved,” Paul continues (v. 26a). “All Israel” here does not mean that every Jew would be saved apart from Christ. Paul spoke in Romans 9:2 of his “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” over the lostness of his Jewish nation.
The apostle means that the entire race of the Jews would have opportunity to come to salvation, just as the Gentiles now have that privilege.
How? Through the Gentiles, God is now offering salvation to the Jews.
Paul says it this way: “I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them” (11:13-14).
The apostle hoped that the Jews would see the Gentiles coming to salvation, become jealous, and come to Christ as a result. Then God could fulfill his covenant to “take away their sins” (v. 27).
Here’s the point: despite all they have endured, all the failures and slaveries and pain they have faced, “they are loved” (v. 28). Verse 29 promises that God’s “gifts” (the word means his “grace”) and call are “irrevocable”—he will never take them back or regret them. One day he hopes to “have mercy on them all” (v. 32).
And what God promised to the Jews, he promised to the Gentiles as well. Galatians 3 announces this incredible fact: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (vs. 28-29).
The Jewish people rejected the Messiah, but he did not reject them. Now you have failed the Father; you have sometimes refused his truth; we have all sinned and fallen short of his glory. We have rejected God’s word and will, but he has not rejected us. No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve done it, he loves you still. This is exactly what his word promises every one of us, with no exceptions, today.