Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost | August 20, 2017
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
Romans 11:1-2 | New Living Translation (NLT)
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.
No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning.
Romans 11:29-32 | New Living Translation (NLT)
For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Once, you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they, too, will share in God’s mercy. For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so he could have mercy on everyone.
Again this week we have a very short passage from the book of Romans. Paul is setting up the next part of his letter – these two short passages talk about God’s mercy on Israel. Israel was part of God’s plan. The nation of Israel were God’s chosen people. There may have been some making the argument that God has rejected Israel. But then why did God choose Paul? Paul was, by his own words, a Hebrew of Hebrews. If God had rejected Israel, then why did He choose Paul to take the Gospel to the known world (at the time?) Perhaps because Paul was a Roman citizen and also a Jew meant that he could have a larger audience. So many times, we think people are beyond God’s salvation…I even thing that sometimes we think God has rejected certain people.
Paul is emphatic – God has not rejected his people. At times we all feel a little like Elijah. His story is recounted in the next couple of verses. Elijah prays to God, “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.”
God replies to Elijah, “No, I have 7,000 others (faithful others) who have never bowed down to Baal.”
There are times that it feels like the faithful followers of Jesus are few and far between…it may seem that God is distant and doesn’t even really care. Elijah felt this way, even after his great win on Mt. Carmel. God continues to call people to salvation. God continues to call his chosen people – the Jews to salvation. God continues to call the Gentiles toward salvation. God continues to call all people to salvation. We are reminded in scripture that God is not slow in his promise to return, as we think slowness means, but he is being patient – he is being forbearing. In light of the week’s events, I think we could all learn much about forbearing one another. But be cause of God’s great mercy, he doesn’t desire that one person on this earth should perish without a saving faith in Christ. Does that mean that all will be saved? No…but God is doing everything in his power to direct each person on the face of this planet toward Him. What we do with that, is our decision – and it can be a decision with eternal consequences.
I love how this passage finishes up and it reminds us of God’s patience, forbearance, mercy and grace.
For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Once you Gentiles were rebels against God, but when the people of Israel rebelled against him, God was merciful to you instead. Now they are the rebels, and God’s mercy has come to you so that they too, will share in God’s mercy.
We (every person on this planet) is a rebel – we are defiant – even in the midst of a merciful God. Each one of us has sinned – each one of us has turned to our own way – and yet God in his wonderfully rich mercy, made a way for salvation. God’s mercy makes away for all, if we only receive it.