• Jack Selcher

Real Israel and Real Church

My mother died when I was seven. I felt abandoned. Does God call us His people one day and abandon us the next?

Paul insists he’s living proof God hasn’t deposited all Israel in the trash barrel. He’s part of Israel. A remnant continues within the Jewish people. They’re the real Israel, God’s people. Similarly, not all churchgoers are the real church.

The remnant in Israel increased and decreased over time. During a low point, Elijah thought he alone was faithful to God. God informed him that 7,000 others were also.

Few Jews in Paul’s day accepted Jesus as their Messiah. God chose a remnant of them who by grace through faith received the righteousness He offered in Christ (verse 5). The remainder substituted religious traditions for salvation. Only a remnant in most churches live out their faith. Religious traditions still drive most of the rest.

Most of the children of Israel were spiritual “whatever” people. They’d seen clear evidence of God’s miraculous signs but still didn’t love, trust, or obey Him. So, God sent a “whatever” spirit upon them. They were spiritually disinterested, unfeeling, and uncaring. That still happens to those who refuse to love, trust, and obey God.

Paul addresses Israel’s rejection. Their stumbling isn’t final. Because they rejected the gospel, Paul turned to the Gentiles. God didn’t permanently remove the door to salvation for the Jews. Instead, He intended the Gentiles’ spiritual prosperity would move the Jews to desire the same riches for themselves (verse 11). Paul expected to save some but not all the Jews (verse 14). He was God’s instrument to announce the gospel, the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).

When the Jews as a whole receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord, there will be a supernatural outpouring of blessings— “life from the dead” (verse 15). The faithful Jewish remnant are the first fruits of the harvest. Much more will follow.

The breaking off of the cultivated olive tree’s branches represents the partial rejection of Israel. The grafting of the wild olive branches represents God’s adding Gentiles to His family tree. Gentiles shouldn’t be proud. They should fear. Not because God will arbitrarily abandon them. But because pride can lead us to fumble the faith that keeps us afloat. We continue in God’s goodness through a life of faith. Unbelief, revealed by loveless and disobedient living, brings God’s harsh judgment.

Someday, God will graft the cultivated olive branches (Israel) into His family tree. This will happen when their unbelief becomes faith in their Messiah.

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