Responding to God’s Plan
Lord, help me quiet the thoughts that fill my head: where to go, whom to see, what to do. I need Your peace now.
Read Romans 11:1-24
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Think of a time when you have looked back and gained from God a fresh perspective on your life. Thank God for his steadfast purposes.
So now, Paul says, just because God’s people have not responded to the message of Jesus, this does not mean God has finished with them. We get very hung up about the language of predestination here (1-6), but Paul’s point is that God’s plans are not limited by ignorance of the future in the way that ours are. Rather, knowing how his people would respond, he continued to offer himself, even sending his own Son.
Where we are inclined to see God’s sovereignty and human responsibility as opposites (the more God is sovereign, the less we are responsible), Paul sees them going hand in hand, so it is natural for Paul to cite Deuteronomy 29 and its reuse in Isaiah 29, along with Psalm 69, to highlight this. These are not words of vengeance, but words that recognize the consequences of our decisions. We need to read them alongside Paul’s passionate plea for his people at the beginning of this section, in Romans 9:1.
How should I, as a Gentile, regard those of Israel who have not responded to the message of salvation in Jesus? With gratitude, hope and attentiveness. I am grateful that the “transgressions” (11,12) of others have not led to God rejecting humanity, but to the extension of his grace to people like me who were not even seeking it. This indeed is “riches for the world” (12), and I must continue to hope that all God’s people, including Israel, will come to faith. Finally, I am attentive. My place among God’s people has always depended solely on God’s “kindness” (22). It would be more natural for those who have received God’s promises down the centuries (the cultivated olive tree; v. 24) to see and receive his grace, and, as one grafted in, I must therefore honor them.
How do you feel about those within and outside the church whom you feel are opposed to God’s plans? How might this passage shape your response to them?
Father, I pray for Jewish people everywhere. They gave us our Savior; our faith arose from Judaism. May the Holy Spirit work to awaken them to faith in Christ.