Romans Bible Study Lesson 38

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The Remnant of Israel

Romans 9:27—33

God always deals with remnants. God does not seem to deal with large groups. The biggest, most popular congregations are generally not properly God-centered. (Joel Osteen, Crystal Cathedral, Promise Keepers, Rick Warren, etc.). The usual thought on remnants is that God selected certain individuals to be a part of that remnant and without God bringing people into the remnant there would be no remnant at all.

However, there is another way to look at this. Suppose God predetermines the disposition of a remnant group but does not bring specific people into that remnant. If God was responsible for the act of electing only a few to be a part of the remnant of believing Jews, for instance, then those outside that group would have no chance to ever become a part of that group.

Let’s see what Scripture says.

Romans 9:27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.

From this verse we know that only the remnant will be saved. The best way to understand this is to think of a special container that holds the remnant. It is a remnant container. However, the individuals in the container are not placed there because God has willed it to be but because they have come to God by faith. God has a special purpose and future for the remnant group but does not exclude anyone from it. They are excluded because they are trying to reach God on their own terms instead of by faith. Any Jew can become a part of this remnant but only a very few will. The idea of becoming a part of the remnant by faith is brought out in Romans 9:30—32.

Romans 11:1—7 1I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3“Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.” 4But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” 5In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. 7What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;

Verses 1 and 2 make it clear that God has not rejected His people. This includes all of Israel. If God had only pre-selected a few who would be saved then He would have rejected the vast majority of Israelites.

In verse 4 we see an example of how God has pre-selected the remnant group to be used in His service but we do not see God pre-selecting specific individuals to be saved. Anyone who has not bowed their knee to Baal can be in the special group that God will use for His own purpose. No one is excluded unless they have excluded themselves.

Verse 5 now applies what Paul says in verses 1—4 to Israel’s current situation. God is changing how He deals with Israel. He is no longer dealing with the entire nation of Israel but has decided that those who have come to Him in faith will be the ones He works through. All those in the remnant will, by God’s grace, have all the spiritual blessings coming to them as listed in Ephesians. All they had to do was come to God by faith and God, by grace, bestows on them every spiritual blessing.

One of these blessings is being declared righteous. Israel sought righteousness by doing the works of the Law but was unable to find it. The Gentiles and Jews who came to God in faith were the ones who were declared righteous.

Romans 11:11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.

One of the purposes of bringing the gospel to the Gentiles was to make Israel jealous. The desire was to drive a jealous Israelite to become a believer as the Gentiles had done. This would not be necessary if God had already pre-selected which Israelite would become saved. Each and every Israelite had the ability to reach out to Christ if he wanted to. Unfortunately, very few would ever do that. Even now any Jewish person can become saved but few do because they have been allowed by God to go their own way and do their own thing.

The Millennial Kingdom

The remnant referred to in Romans 9 is the group of Jewish believers who have accepted Christ by faith in this present Age of Grace. Paul considered himself a remnant Jew and therefore knew that God was still dealing with Israel even though within a different dispensation.

There is another remnant of Jews mentioned throughout the Old Testament and Revelation. This is the group of believing Jews who will live into the Tribulation period and rule with Christ in the Millennial Kingdom. Isaiah mentions the future of Israel in relation to the Millennial Kingdom quite often. Specific verses that call Israel a remnant are: Isaiah 10:20—22; 28:5; 37:31—32

It’s interesting to see how Isaiah seems to write in a cyclical manner and keeps coming back to the Tribulation and Israel’s future. I believe Revelation can best be understood as having been written in a similar manner.

Other passages of Scripture that talk about the remnant of Israel in the Millennial Kingdom are: Jeremiah 23:3; 31:7; 50:20; Micah 2:12; Zephaniah 2:7—9; 3:9—12

There are also references to the remnant in the Gospels.

Luke 12:32—33 32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. 33“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.

This little flock (remnant) was to receive the Kingdom instead of the leadership of Israel. The leaders were to take care and shepherd the flock but instead were taking advantage of their position.

Jeremiah 23:1—3 1“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the LORD. 2Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the LORD. 3“Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply.

This little flock is mentioned in Matthew 21:

Matthew 21:42—44 42Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures,?’THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,? THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD,?AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’ 43“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. 44“And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”

Now when we go back to Romans 9:32—33 we can see the significance of the Stumbling Stone. It was Israel’s leaders who stumbled over Jesus Christ and will not become a part of the remnant because they were trying to make it by works instead of by faith. They will have no inheritance in the Kingdom, however, the little flock will inherit the Kingdom because they have come to Christ by Faith only.