GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS
Mighty God, if my spirit flags, quicken it; if my trust wanes, restore it; if my focus get blurry, sharpen it.
Read ROMANS 11:25-36
All Israel Will Be Saved
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way[a] all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[d] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[e] knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”[f]
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”[g]
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father.’1
It’s a mystery (v 25) – not-knowing is an inevitable aspect of our faith in God. We only know ‘in part’.2 As we struggle with Paul’s teaching, he wants us to hold in our minds the great breadth of God’s story (so that we don’t get conceited, v 25). It’s always been God’s plan that ‘all Israel will be saved’ (v 26) – and salvation of Gentiles is, in part, the outworking of Israel’s ‘hardening’ (v 25) towards God. Thinking of his own mission to the Gentiles,3 Paul recalls that their redemption has always been part of God’s plan too. The underlying key to the story is Jesus – the ‘deliverer… from Zion’ (v 26). The quotation at first picks up the world of the old covenant, but then blends into prophecy of the new covenant, recalling Jeremiah’s words of God’s laws written on hearts.4 God will freely forgive his people’s sins.
Paul turns his attention to the Gentile Christians’ response to this (v 28). Yes, the Jews have rejected the gospel of Christ, but they are still loved by God, according to the promises made to the patriarchs (vs 28,29). God is faithful. Just as Gentiles have received mercy through Christ despite their sin, so too, such mercy is available to Israel. All have been disobedient; all can be justified by grace through Jesus Christ.5 Gentile and Jew, together, are united in God’s love and mercy, as brothers and sisters (v 25) united in the Messiah.6
As we pause here, we might feel, as Tom Wright expresses it, ‘theological vertigo’! Paul can only simply say ‘Praise God’. His ways are unsearchable. We can bring to God nothing that he should repay. Everything we have comes from and through him. In the grand scheme of God’s plans, we begin to glimpse the end of the story.
‘To him be the glory for ever! Amen’ (v 36).
Lord Jesus, you are the way to God, the truth about God, and the life in God. How great is my God!
1 TO Chisholm, 1923 2 1 Cor 13:12 3 Rom 15:16 4 Jer 31:33,34 5 Rom 3:21–24 6 Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: Romans (Part 2), p73 [of Scribd online version]