v.1-2: God has not cast away His people, nor will He.
· One of the proof that God has not cast away His people is Paul himself.
· Paul’s conversion is recorded 3 times in the book of Acts (9, 22, 26), they were written to show Paul’s conversion as an illustration of the future conversion of the nation of Israel.
· The accounts of Paul’s conversion tell very little that parallels our salvation experience today. Certainly none of us has seen Christ in glory or actually heard Him speak from heaven. We were neither blinded by the light of heaven nor thrown to the ground. In what way, then, is Paul’s conversion “a pattern”? It is a picture of how the nation of Israel will be saved when Jesus Christ returns to establish His kingdom on earth.
· The details of Israel’s future restoration and salvation.
Zechariah 12:10–13:1 (NKJV)
10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.
13 “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.
· The nation shall see Him as He returns (Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7), recognize Him as their Messiah, repent, and receive Him. It will be an experience similar to that of Saul of Tarsus when he was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians (Acts 9).
Zechariah 14:4 (NKJV)
4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.
Acts 1:11 (NKJV)
11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Revelation 1:7 (NKJV)
7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
v. 3-5: This account of Elijah is used as a demonstration of God’s faithfulness.
v. 4-5: In the time of Elijah, God preserved a remnant. In the time of Paul, God preserved an remnant, and even now God preserves a remnant, because He is faithful.
v. 5-6: Paul makes it clear that this a preservation by grace, not works. As is salvation.
Ephesians 2:8–9 (NKJV)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
· Grace and works are mutually exclusive.
· It is impossible to mix grace and works, for the one cancels the other. Israel’s main concern had always been in trying to please God with good works
Romans 9:30–32 (NKJV)
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.
· The nation refused to submit to Christ’s righteousness, just as religious, self-righteous people refuse to submit today.
v.7-8: Paul differentiates between the nation and the remnant. The entire nation has NOT been preserved.
· What does Israel seek? Righteousness, but they sought to obtain it by works. Ultimately, they were blinded.
· This was the result of their resisting the truth, just as Pharaoh’s heart was hardened because he resisted the truth. Paul quoted Isaiah 29:10 to support his statement, and to show that Israel’s spiritual indifference is a pattern.
v.9-10: cited from Psalm 69:22–23. This psalm is one of the most important of the messianic psalms and is referred to several times in the New Testament.
· Their “table to become a snare” means that their blessings turn into burdens and judgments.
· This is what happened to Israel: their spiritual blessings should have led them to Christ, but instead they became a snare that kept them from Christ.
· Their very religious practices and observances became substitutes for the real experience of salvation.
· This same mistake is made today when people depend on religious rituals and practices instead of trusting in the Christ who is pictured in these activities.
· Paul made it clear that the hardening of Israel is neither total nor final, and this is proof that God has a future for the nation.
· “Hardness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).
· The existence of the believing Jewish remnant today, as in Elijah’s day, is evidence that God still has a plan for His people.
· Paul did not imitate Elijah’s mistake and say, “I only am left!” He knew that there was a remnant of Israel in this world who trusted God.
· We Christians are not alone, God has an army of faithful followers right now.
· Are you part of the army, or have you decided on the reserves, or will you be a conscientious objector, and just sit it out completely?