Has God Rejected His Chosen People?

 Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship

                              Has God Rejected Chosen People?

Romans 11:1-5 (NLT)
1  I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
2  No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said,
3  “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”
4  And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!”
5  It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. 

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

We are returning to our studies through the epistle or letter written to the church at Rome and we again find the Apostle Paul’s extended teaching regarding the nation of Israel.

Earlier we learned about the nation of Israel and their rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul taught us about how that rejection actually made it possible for us who are Gentiles to be grafted into the family of God.

We shared a sermon back in February entitled “ How to Miss connecting with God”

In that sermon, Paul showed us how Israel failed to connect with God, not because they lacked sincerity or effort or zeal, but rather they failed to connect with God because they refused submit to God’s way of making people right with HIM, which is not of works but rather is by faith.

It is by faith that God accepts a person.

Abraham, the father of faith was counted as righteous by God, not because of what he did, but because of his faith.

He believed God and it was accounted or credited to him as righteousness.

Israel didn’t get this. Even though they were God’s chosen people, they failed to connect with God because they rejected the way of faith and instead pursed God with a righteousness of their own making.

That is why the scripture says in John chapter one that “ he came to his own and his own did not receive Him.

The chosen people of God, ended up missing God and the Gentiles who were outside of the family of God, where then grafted in, as wild olive branches and we became heirs of the promises of God, by faith in Jesus Christ.

Thought:

Now this reality of course was good news for us.

We got in; we obtained a blessing that was totally undeserved.

But this reality and this blessings associated therewith raises a question in our minds and here it is…

Did this blessing and our entrance into the family of God mean that Israel had been totally rejected?

Because we got in…… is Israel now out ?

We’ll that is a question that Paul answers for us in this teaching regarding Israel’s future and God’s incredible grace…

So let’s get started, let’s look at and celebrate the goodness of God and HIS grace as demonstrated towards the nation of Israel in these four biblical proofs.

Has God completely rejected His chosen people? Absolutely not and here is the first point of proof.

  1. Paul himself was evidence that God has not utterly rejected Israel and that HE (God) is true to his promises.

Romans 11:1 (NLT)
1  I ask, then, has God rejected his own people, the nation of Israel? Of course not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham and a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Philippians 3:5a-b (NKJV)
5  circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews;

Acts 9:17 (NLT)
17  So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 15:9-10a (NKJV)
9  For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10  But by the grace of God I am what I am

Israel, as we learned in previous lessons, was a nation that was defined by rebellion and obstinacy.

Reading through the Old Testament, you will find story after story, after story of Israel’s rebellion and disobedience towards God.

God had rescued them with his powerful hands; he had led them in the wilderness and fed them with manna from heaven.

He had brought them into the Promised Land that was flowing with milk and honey.

He had given them his laws and statues and set them up to be an incredibly blessed nation, but they turned on God and rebelled against him and worshipped idols in defiance of the living God.

And instead of living under the blessings of God, the nation of Israel came under HIS punishment.

At the time of the words that were written by Paul, the nation of Israel had been held under Roman bondage. They had rejected the Messiah; they had rejected Jesus Christ God’s own Son and they had plotted and conspired in his death.

Yet to the question of whether this meant that God had rejected and cast away his people, Paul responded with an emphatic declaration “that God forbid that he would utterly reject his people”

In fact from Paul’s perspective the notion that God would utterly reject his people was impossible.

And the first proof that he offers….. is the grace of God as evidenced in himself.

Thought:

Paul was a true son of Abraham who was circumcised on the 8th day of his life.

He was a Jew of Jews, he was a member of the tribe of Benjamin, he himself was part of the group of people, called the Pharisees who were actually in rebellion towards God.

Yet God showed through Paul, that he would extend his grace towards Israel, in keeping with his promise, so that through his GRACE there would always, evidence of his promise, as seen in the lives of individual people.

Paul was perfect example and a living proof-answer which showed us that God kept and keeps his word.

Even though Paul was formerly an enemy of the church.

Even though he stood by and witnessed the stoning of Stephen

Jesus himself appeared to him and called him to salvation.

Even though the Jews as a group of people, had rejected Christ himself, he still reached out in grace to fulfill his promises to all who are willing to believe in him and obey him.

Thought:

I believe this is why Paul was constantly overwhelmed and over powered by the grace and mercy of God.

He was from his perspective the least of the Apostles.

He was part of the sect of Israelites who had rejected God, yet by the grace of God he was accepted as one of God’s chosen and beloved.

Thought:

Paul in his personal experience with God, was proof that God’s grace and His determination to keep His promises, can never be over come or overwhelmed by the sins and failures of man.

This is something that I want to make clear to every listener today.

This is something that I want you to grasp and hold on to as an unchanging reality, that God himself always keeps His word and he extends his grace.

You and I who are saved today.

You and I who have the blessing of being grafted into the family of God, are living proofs of evidence, that we can be accepted, we can be brought in, we can be the beneficiaries of God’s incredible grace and mercy, because nothing of our sinful past can overwhelm the grace and mercy of God.

Has God completely rejected His chosen people? Absolutely not and here is the second point of proof.

  1. God foreordained that there would be exceptional people.

Romans 11:2a-b (NLT)
2a-b  No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. 

Romans 8:29 (NLT)
29  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

1 Peter 1:2a-c (NLT)
2a-c  God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:2 (NKJV)
2  elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

In this second point I want to try to unwrap the complexity of the language here, by focusing on the issue of foreknowledge.

Say that word. Foreknowledge

Foreknowledge tells us that God knew in advance.

He had foresight.

He had precognition; he had divine providence regarding the fact that there would be those among the people of Israel who would not reject him in spite of the fact that the nation as a whole would turn their backs on God.

In other words, God foreknew that there would be exceptional people within the nation of Israel overall.

In answering the question as to the salvivic future of Israel, we learn that God has absolutely not rejected and utterly cast out the Jewish people, because he has always known that there would be exceptional people who would respond to his love and grace,.

And this is the message that we can celebrate today.

For in God’s dealings with the Jewish people, he is also speaking to the Gentile world.

In his actions of grace towards the Jewish nation, he is speaking to and picturing the reality of the marvel of his grace and love and mercy, which God has towards us.

You see, the nation of Israel in many ways is merely a microcosm of the sinful and rebellious Gentile world.

The world we live in rejects God in favor of man made idols.

The world we live in is steeped in pride and arrogance.

The world we live in, is dominated by self-righteous folks who want to design their own God and to dictate the terms of the relationship.

But because of God’s grace and love and mercy, he has not rejected all people, but in his love he gave the world his only begotten SON.

And in that giving he also knew and foreknew, that there would exceptional people like you in this world.

People who in spite of all of the confusion and sin that is present in this world, would respond to Jesus his Son, and who as the scripture said, would become like his Son.

And so he chose them and he is choosing YOU.

He knew YOU my unsaved friend.

He knew who would be listening to this sermon today and he knows who will respond to his offer of love and grace and peace.

Has God completely rejected His chosen people? Absolutely not and here is the 3rd point of proof.

  1. Scripture points to and confirms that God always has a remnant. 

Romans 11:2-3 (NLT)
2c  Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said,
3  “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

1 Kings 19:18 (NLT)
18  Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”

1 Kings 19:18 (KJV)
18  Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

1 Kings 19:18 (MSG)
18  Meanwhile, I’m preserving for myself seven thousand souls: the knees that haven’t bowed to the god Baal, the mouths that haven’t kissed his image.”

For this 3rd point, I choose three confirming scriptures which are based on the same passage, yet have three different translations and I have done so in order to drive home a point that has to do with God and his sovereignty.

In thinking about and answering the question as to where Israel stands in relation to the salvation of the Jewish people, it is imperative that we embrace and understand, that the question of where Israel stands and the thought of God having abandoned his people, is not one which should be processed in terms of our thinking about what Israel has done, but rather the question needs to be looked at in terms of God’s predetermined purpose and plan and HIS will.

Let me repeat that again for clarity…

Scripture points to and confirms the reality that God always has a hand in AND is always in control of the events and lives of people, so that HIS will and His purpose and His word will always come to pass.

Notice a key thought in those three confirming scriptures;

The new living translation says “yet I will preserve” the King James version says “ yet I have left me” and the message translation says I’m preserving for myself”

In other words, God has not cast Israel off nor has he completely rejected his chosen people, because his commitment towards them was not about them and their actions.

God’s commitment was about His word.

God’s commitment was about HIS purpose.

God’s commitment towards Israel was about HIS love and His covenant grace, which flows not out of what they deserved, but rather it all flowed out of who God is.

Thought:

Again, I want to make sure that you grasp the relevance here for us today.

God is communicating to us, a message concerning HIS sovereign will and grace in that he will always reserve for himself a people who will be the recipients of his tender mercy.

And he does that not because of what people do, but because of HIS “GOD-NESS”

When Elijah was complaining to God about the state of the nation of Israel, he was living in a society in which the majority of people at that time were living lives of total rebellion and sin.

They had killed the prophets. They had torn down God’s place of worship and from Elisha’s perspective, He was the only one left.

But God says NO.

You don’t get it Elijah. I’m not depending upon people, but I am taking care of things for MY names sake.

I’ve got some folk reserved for me.

I am going to make sure that for my names sake, that some folks will get the BLESSINGS of MY promise because I am GOD.

And that is the same truth that is in operation today.

Even though this nation, the UNITED STATES is going down the drain.

Even though man is rejecting God.

God is always involved and super-ruling in the affairs of man, to see that there will always be a few.

That is why today, perhaps even at this very moment, he may be reaching out and drawing you to HIS Son.

And so he orchestrates time and space, to bring you into contact with his beloved Son.

And then he generates faith in your heart, so that you can believe in His Son and be forgiven and reconciled and made right with God, through faith.

Has God completely rejected His chosen people? Absolutely not and here is the 4th and final proof.

  1. God’s grace and salvation through faith alone, is still active and present today.

Romans 11:5 (NLT)
5  It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them.

Romans 8:30 (NKJV)
30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)
5  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

As we close our thoughts today, we’ve already looked at some convincing evidence of God’s love and grace, as expressed towards the nation of Israel in the previous three points.

Today, in our modern times, we can clearly see that the nation of Israel is evidencing many things that do not reflect the chosen status, which is often referenced in the bible.

I was looking on-line the other day to learn some facts about modern day Israel.

Just last year, Out Magazine named Tel Aviv as “the gay capital of the Middle East,” a place where the gay flag flies high and where the colors’ of the rainbow adorn Israel’s gay clubs, beaches, and café’s.

Just as sin and rebellion is currently active and growing in Israel so also is SIN active and growing throughout the gentile world.

But in the midst of all this, the answer to the original question that formed the basis of this sermon today is NO.

God has not cast off the Jewish nation completely, because his grace is still active.

His mercy is still extended.

His arms are still opened wide because of God’s grace and his underserved kindness in choosing them.

It’s the same today for the gentile world.

Even though the modern world in which we live in does not merits God’s attention….HIS GRACE, HIS LOVE, HIS MERCY and his kindness, is still being extended.

Not because we would qualify on any level, but gift of salvation is extended through faith in Jesus Christ, because of God’s goodness and GRACE.

CLOSE:

My friend, if you are here under the sound of my voice and the Spirit of God is speaking to you through this sermon today, I want to encourage you to embrace the kindness of God and the mercy of God and the grace of God which is being extended to you.

The purpose of this message today, was not just to give you a history lesson on the nation of Israel, but it was offered as a statement and an example of the grace of God.

Those of us who are sitting here in this place with you.

The person next to you, the person in the row in front and behind.

The person, who is standing here behind this lectern, has come into the family of God by faith.

And we are PROOF that God accepts the dirtiest and filthiest people you could think of.

We were enemies of Christ, who lived and breathed and were steeped in SIN just like you my unsaved friend.

But Jesus himself met each of us in the middle of our sins one day and he called us into the brotherhood of born again believers.

Every person who is sitting here this morning, has come into God’s family because HE foreordained us and chose us before the foundation of the world to be conformed to the image of HIS son.

My closing question to you this morning is simply this; do you know THIS REALITY as a defining fact in your own life?

Do you know that you’ve been forgiven and accepted and declared right with God, because you have placed your faith in God’s only begotten Son Jesus the Christ?

  • Do you hear HIS voice?
  • Do you feel his tug upon your heart….because if you do,
  • that my friend is the evidence that God almighty is calling YOU.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed and Christians and praying.

Click here to view the service and sermon on-line

 

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