A Remnant Chosen By Grace—Romans 11:2-5
"God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah-how he appealed to God against Israel: "Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace" (Romans 11:2-5)
It says in the Psalms, "For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance" ( Psalm 94:14 ). God is pleased to call us his own. He has made for himself a people comprised of sons and daughters. It's marvelous to know that we are His inheritance. He has chosen and predestined us to be a part of his family. He foreknew us and accepted us on the basis of Christ. What a glorious thing. In today's passage Paul is explaining that this true even in the midst of Israel rejecting the Messiah.
In verse 1 Paul explained that it was against God's entire nature to reject those he has previously chosen. He concluded that this was impossible. 'May it never be.' Today's passage gives more insight to this truth. Paul reflected back to the scriptures about Elijah when he was faced with a similar situation. Elijah learned an important truth about God in the midst of these circumstances.
Jezebel was seeking Elijah's life because he has just defeated over 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel putting them to death by the sword. He then fled for his life because she had sworn an oath to kill him. He has just had an amazing victory with God as his backer. He spoke and acted in power and authority and proved to the entire nation that God was the God of Israel and not the "no count" Baal. But, at the threat of the queen he fled in fear. The Lord came to him and asked him what he was doing and this was his reply, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too" ( I Kings 19:10 ). Look at the Lord's reply to Elijah, "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel-all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him" ( I Kings 19:18 ). What an amazing thing to tell and encourage him during the time he was afraid. There is a small number of Israelites who have not bowed to Baal. I have reserved for myself a remnant who have remained true to my covenant. In other words, you are not the only one left.
At this time, Israel had rejected God to worship idols. But God still did not reject them. He sent his prophets to them to remind them of everything that he had done for them. He spoke to them about their future and about what he would do for them. This is how wonderful our God is. He is so patient, loving, forgiving and encouraging. Some remained, walking in his covenant and some turned away, but neither of these things changed God. He remained the same; true to His promises.
Modern day Israel has rejected Jesus, wishing to remain in the Law and in the ritualistic application of its precepts. But still, this does not change God. He does not reject those he foreknew. Now, he sends his Holy Spirit to show them the way and to reveal to them the Christ. But still he reminds us that there is a remnant chosen by grace. There is a small believing minority in Israel who has accepted God's unmerited favor and graciousness through Christ Jesus. He is telling us that we are not alone.
Paul said in Romans 9, "not all who are descendants from Israel are Israel" ( Romans 9:6 ). He went on to say that true descendants are those who belonged to the promise ( Romans 9:8 ). The promise was Christ. Through Christ, "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" ( Galatians 3:28-29 ). Through faith we join with the remnant of Israel that remained true to the promise and believed the message of grace. Like them, we have become heirs to the promise and have been grafted into this holy race of God's chosen people in the world today. May this truth speak to your heart and encourage you that God does not reject the people whom he foreknew. He is faithful to the promises he has spoken and watches over them to see their fulfillment ( Isaiah 55:11; Jeremiah 1:12 ), what a blessing this is!