Romans 10-11:18 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine. And we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's word and applying it to your life so we explain the Bible verse by verse. Every chapter. Every book. This is expound.
So we're in Romans, chapter 10. Last week my aim was to teach chapter 9 and 10.
I laugh because you laugh at the idea of me doing that. But tonight, by God's grace, I'm going to do chapter 10 and 11.
And I hear some laughs and that's legitimate. I get that. But we're in chapter 10 at least of the book of Romans. Covered a few verses. I said I would go back and we'll take it in one fell swoop. Now, we believe that after Paul's third missionary journey, in which the Bible tells us he spent three months in Greece-- that's in Acts, chapter 20-- that from Greece, somewhere in the late winter to early spring of AD 57 or AD 58, that is when and from where Paul wrote the book of Romans. During those three months, while he was in Greece.
He would leave Greece after collecting money from Macedonian churches to help the church in Jerusalem. He had taken up an offering for those believers in Jerusalem, to help them. And no doubt, while he was writing the book of Romans, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he was thinking about Jerusalem. He was thinking about his people. He was thinking about what he was going to say to them and what he was going to do in Jerusalem. And probably, out of that prayerful cogitation before the Lord, in the Spirit, he wrote chapter 9, 10, and 11 of the book of Romans. A great section of scripture.
I've told you before, Romans is divided up into four parts and this is the third part, where he talks about the plan of God for Gentiles and Jews, but he has the Jewish nation in mind. And if you recall-- if you don't, you can look at it-- the very first verse, in chapter 9, where he says, "I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Spirit, that I have a great sorrow and continual grief in my heart." And he says who it's for. His kinsmen according to the flesh. That's the Jewish people.
He begins chapter 10 with a similar kind of a sentiment where he says, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved." I am not Jewish. In fact, I am, by birth, the polar opposite. I am a German Gentile, born and raised in America. But I did spend time in Israel. I've been there 41 times and the first couple of times I lived there on a kibbutz.
And I remember the feeling my first visit, on a Passover evening, when I was looking out from the kibbutz toward the Mediterranean Sea, looking over that beautiful farmland of northern Israel up by the border with Lebanon, and the contacts, the people I had met on that kibbutz, the love I already had for them-- considering the blindness that I came up against when I tried to share Yeshua, Jesus, with them-- and I had a very similar kind of a sentiment that Paul had. Even though I certainly can't relate to it like Paul could, or like a Jewish person can, but as close as a German background, Gentile American can feel. I felt the weight of this verse.
My heart's cry, my deep anguish and prayer, is that Israel might be saved. And he says, "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God--" they have great enthusiasm-- "but it's not according to knowledge." It's not a zeal that is according to knowledge.
Zeal characterized Paul the apostle when he was Saul of Tarsus. He was a very zealous Jewish man. He was so zealous he thought, I'm just going to go find those people who call on the name of Jesus in synagogues up in Damascus. I'm just going to arrest them and kill them. He was so zealous that when they stoned Stephen in Jerusalem, Saul was cheering them on, kill him, kill him. That's how zealous he was.
And when he writes his own testimony to the church at Phillipi, in Philippians chapter 3, he gives his background, his pedigree. He says, I was "circumcised on the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews-- concerning zeal, I persecuted the church." You want to talk about enthusiasm? Paul said, you want to talk about zeal? I was so enthusiastically zealous for Judaism that anybody who defected and called upon Jesus as the Messiah I persecuted, I went after. They were on my blacklist. He had a zeal for God.
So Paul says, I can relate. I can relate because I was one of them. A zeal for God-- an enthusiasm for God-- but it was not according to knowledge. That is, it wasn't based on a correct understanding of the scriptures, the Old Testament, the Torah, the Tanakh. They read it. They read it, Paul said, but they don't get it. They don't understand it. They don't understand the predictions it's making and the fulfillment in Christ.
You know, zeal is good but zeal is dangerous if it's not channeled by knowledge. If you're just enthusiastic-- ooh, we love people with passion-- I don't. I don't want somebody who's passionate for some dumb idea, some stupid idea, some errant idea. It has to be based on truth. Jesus said, you are ignorant. He said that to the religious Pharisees. "You err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God." Oh, you have a zeal but it's not according to knowledge. "I bear them witness, they have a zeal for God, but it is not according to knowledge."
I was reading about an incident that took place not long ago in Israel. There is a town in northern Israel-- if you've been on our tours you have either been through it or you've seen it-- it's close to the Lebanese border, called Kiryat Shmona, and it has received a shelling-- bombing-- from Hezbollah over the years. And, if that isn't enough, there were some very orthodox, enthusiastic, zealous, orthodox Jews who broke in and beat up Jewish people in that town because they had given their lives to Yeshua as the Messiah. They believed in Jesus as the Messiah.
It's already a hard town to live in but then they went into the house of a Jewish believer in Jesus, stole their stuff, ruined their house, vandalized their house, and roughed them up. Zeal for God, not according to knowledge. Very, very dangerous.
Verse 3, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness--" now Paul has made his case, that God's righteousness is a gift. It's not something you earn, it's something you get. It's something you receive. But they're ignorant of that. They don't understand that righteousness is something you receive. A right standing is something you get. It's done for you, not by you. They don't get that. So he says, "they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness--"
Whenever you have a righteousness that you are producing by yourself-- you're earning it, you're working at it, you're being religious, you're going here, you're going there, you're doing all the things right, and thus, you think it is owed you. You are producing it by yourself. It is by definition self-righteousness. You're a self-righteous individual. "Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law--" please mark that. Please understand that verse. Jesus Christ is the end, the termination of, the fulfillment of, the law "to everyone who believes."
Here is the difficulty that the Jewish person faced and faces. They have a whole system of works, a whole religious system, like any religion has. Even people in the so-called Christian religions can have a system of works. In Judaism, they had sacrifices. They brought an animal, the animal was sacrificed on an altar, the blood was shed. They would go through their ritualistic prayers. The pious Jew prayed three times a day. They would tithe. They would fast. And they would brag about it or, at least, they would acknowledge that they have done something, whereby they have earned a right standing before God.
This is why they didn't like Jesus so much, because he would walk up to a prostitute and say, your sins are forgiven. And they thought, he can't say that. Only God can say that. Or the man who was paralyzed, and his friends let him down through that roof, and He said, man, be of good cheer. Your sins are forgiven. That didn't make sense. You can't just confer right standing on somebody. And Paul says, oh, yes you can. "Christ is the end--" the fulfillment-- "of the law for everyone who believes."
He's going to flesh that out in the book of Galatians. Chapter 3 of Galatians, where he will say, the law of Moses was a tutor, a schoolmaster-- very different from the educational system of today-- but the schoolmaster is going to lead you to Christ, point you to Christ. But once you come to Christ, you don't need the tutor any longer. You don't need the schoolmaster any longer. The schoolmaster, the tutor, the law has fulfilled its purpose. It's done. It's over.
You're not right before God by keeping a code, a system, or a bunch of laws. Christ is the end of the law. But this didn't set well with the Jewish people, especially the Jewish leadership. They even had a saying among the Jews and the saying was, if there are only two people who go to heaven-- out of anyone who's ever lived on the earth-- if only two people go to heaven, one will be a scribe and the other will be a Pharisee. That was their saying. If only two people are saved, one will be a scribe, the other will be a Pharisee.
Jesus comes along and says to the crowd, unless your righteousness exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees you won't by any means get into heaven. And they went, what what? They couldn't figure that one out. That's because they're used to earning it. Jesus came to produce it, provide it, and give them a right standing with Him. Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes.
Now what I didn't tell you is, in Philippians chapter 3, when Paul does give his testimony, Hebrew of the Hebrews-- concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning righteousness which comes by the law, perfect." You know, he goes through all that he used to be. But he said, but all those things I count but dung-- dung. A pile of poop-- in the NSV, the New Skip Version--
--that I might find Christ "and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is from the law, but the righteousness which comes through faith in Jesus Christ." Very powerful words from this ex-rabbi convert to Christ. "For," verse 5, "Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, 'The man who does those things shall live by them.'"
That's Leviticus chapter 18. Paul is quoting Leviticus 18, where basically the text is saying that if you want to live, you have to do all the things that the law prescribes. If you do all the things the law prescribes, you'll live. The problem is you can't do the things the law prescribes. We've made that point time and time again. Jesus made that point.
There was a lawyer in the Gospel of Luke who came to Jesus one time and said, good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said, well, you've read the scriptures. What is your take on it? The guy said, well, you need to love the Lord your God with all your mind, all your soul, all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said, yep, that's right. You read it rightly. Do that and you will live, Jesus said. Do those things and you will live.
Problem is no one ever had been able to do those things, because right after that-- after he said, love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul, strength, and love your neighbor as yourself-- Jesus said, yep, do that and live. Then the man said, and who is my neighbor? That's when Jesus gave the parable of the good Samaritan to show the man who thought, I am earning my way, that he really wasn't keeping the law anyway. He said, go and do likewise. Go find people like that Samaritan, who is non-Jewish, and have compassion on him. Go out of your way to show that kind of love. But you're not doing that.
"Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, 'The man who does those things shall live by them.'" But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, 'Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?"'-- that is, to bring Christ down from above-- or, '"Who will descend into the abyss?"'-- that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. But what does it say?" Now he's going to quote Deuteronomy 30, another saying of Moses. "What does it say? 'The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart--' that is, the word of faith which we preach--" he is showing that even Moses taught salvation by faith. "'The word is near you, even in your mouth and in your heart.'"
A good question to ask is how close are you to righteousness? What does a person have to do? Does a person have to make a pilgrimage? Ascend somewhere or descend somewhere? Do you have to get on your knees and crawl up some crazy stairs and roam until your knees are bloody? Or do you have to make a pilgrimage to a hill out by Santa Fe and get holy dirt, because then you'll be closer to God? Do you have to make some kind of a long trip, and save up your money, and do some kind of a ritual in order to be right with the Lord?
I remember the first time I went to Israel-- and the answer, of course, is no, you don't. First time I ever went to Israel and lived on that kibbutz, and I went to Jerusalem while I was living there, I remember hearing stories of people say, man, when I was in Israel, when I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord was never more real to me. It's like I could touch Him and it was like I got lifted. I'd heard these stories. So I remember going there, having high expectations of,
And that never really happened to me. In fact, I remember sitting in the Garden of Gethsemane and going, it's OK, it's going to happen. Any moment. Here it comes. That feeling, that
It's going to happen. And I was sorely disappointed. I thought, man, I saved up a lot of money to get that feeling.
I could have just bought the book and looked at the pictures. But then I remember flying back home and being in my little slummy apartment in Santa Ana, California-- with a high crime rate where I lived-- and one night, with my Bible open, feeling the presence of God in a very powerful, palpable way after that. After I had gotten home from Israel. It felt so amazing. And then I thought, man, I could have saved a whole boatload of money if I had just done that earlier. I'm not saying don't go to Israel, I'm saying don't go to Israel for that reason. It's like if you're thinking you're going to buy points with God, or you're going to somehow get some kind of-- and you might get some kind of crazy experience-- but we'll see.
"'The word is near you, it's in your mouth, it's in your heart--' That is, the word of faith which we preach-- that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." Notice the key elements for salvation. You believe and you believe in your heart. It's not speaking of the cardiac muscle, it's just in the core of your being.
It has to be a real, authentic belief, not I just acknowledge God exists, I acknowledge Jesus is right, I acknowledge all that. It's in the very heart, or core, of your being-- the authentic you, the real you-- it's more than just a knowledge, it's a conviction. You have the conviction that He is who He said He is. That He is Lord. That He is God in human flesh. And that He conquered death by resurrection. That God raised Him from the dead. This is the core of the gospel. If you confess with your mouth, you believe in your heart, you will be saved.
"For with the heart one believes to righteousness--" that's how righteousness comes, by faith-- "and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.' For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is rich to all who call upon Him. For 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord--'" quoting Joel chapter 2-- "'whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"
OK. Something is at play here. I just want you to see a relationship. The apostle Paul has been noting in the last few chapters that salvation is by faith, but it is a sovereign act of God. God sovereignly chooses, or elects. He elected the nation of the Jews to be the receptacle of the law, to be the receptacle of truth, to be the receptacle of the Savior. He chose them for a very, very specific special purpose. He chooses you and I as the elect of God to be saved. There's predestination. We have touched on some of those things.
But there is also human responsibility at work, because it says, "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." It's not automatic. You're not saved automatically. I was raised in a Christian home, therefore I'm a Christian. You're not saved irresistibly. I had no choice at all. No human cooperation. I was irresistibly drawn because a Calvinist told me I was. No, there is a human responsibility. Yes, God enables that. That's part of His sovereign plan. But you and I still must make a choice.
And so, who is salvation offered to? "Whoever." That's the word that is used. "Whoever." "Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever--" or whosoever-- "believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet--'" quoting Isaiah-- "'of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'" "Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God." Before you hear somebody has to be willing to speak. And you hear the words that they speak. That's how faith is generated. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
"And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" Now the idea of being sent here does not imply being formally sent by a church, or a mission board, or some Christian organization or group necessarily, because here's the truth. You've already been sent. You've already got marching orders, you just need to read them and obey them. Jesus said, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." So once you read, that you're responsible for that.
Jesus said to His disciples, "as the Father sent Me, so I send you." So you and I are sent. Even in the book of Acts, when they laid hands on Paul and Barnabas and sent them out, it says, "So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit." So you and I are sent. We are called to go, and proclaim, and preach. "As the Father sent me, so I send you."
"But," verse 16, "they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our report?'" Now, if you know your Bible, you know that that's how Isaiah 53-- that suffering servant passage-- begins. "Who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" He's quoting Isaiah and the point that he's making is, look, they have not all believed or obeyed the gospel, for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our report?"
Now let me give you that context once again. What Paul is saying is that, OK, all of this is true, and yet Israel, for the most part, has not believed. For the most part Israel, as a majority, rejected their Messiah. He came into His own. His own received them not. But the principle that he made a couple of chapters back-- and it's kind of continuing now-- is that just because the majority doesn't believe doesn't negate God's promise to the minority.
The fact that God made a promise-- and let's say only a few believe it-- it's still true. And just because most people don't believe it-- or most of the nation of Israel rejected Jesus, and still does, by the way, to this day-- doesn't mean that Jesus is invalid. It just shows the hardness of their heart and the fallenness of humanity. It does not negate the promise of God.
He's going to develop that. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." That's how faith is developed. Somebody speaks truth, you and I hear the truth, and we make a decision of what we'll do with the truth. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed-- 'Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.'"
He's quoting now Psalm 19, where David talks about natural revelation-- sun, moon, stars, biosphere, creative genius of God. God speaks to people of His existence, of His power, just through the natural environment. Some message of the existence and reality of God is evident in creation is the point. "But I say," verse 19, "did Israel not know? First Moses says, 'I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will anger you by a foolish nation.' But Isaiah is very bold and says, 'I was found by those who did not seek Me. I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.' But to Israel he says, 'All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and a contrary people.'"
Gentiles are the ones he is referring to in verse 20. "I was found by those who did not seek me." The Jewish people, Israel, he's referring to in verse 21. God said, I stretched out My hands all day long to this people. That is, the unbelief of Israel shouldn't take anybody off guard. Traditionally, historically they have not believed God's promises.
Stephen stood in front of the Jewish council, in Acts chapter 7, and he said, you bunch of stiff-necked people. Which one of the prophets did not your fathers persecute and kill? You have a long history of the rejection of God's message, of God's truth, of God's prophets, of God's messengers. So Paul is exploring that using the prophets.
But He was found "by those who did not seek Me." Though the nation of Israel, by and large, has rejected Jesus as the Messiah, individuals-- the remnant that he has referred to, and will refer to it again in a moment-- are saved. But look at that last verse of chapter 10. "All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people." Have you ever tried to stretch out your hands for a long period of time?
You may want to try it. Not now. Not here. But go home and just do this and see how long you can do this. After a while, and it won't take very long, you'll get very weary of this and you won't have the strength to do it. So God says, you know, I've been doing this for a long time with My people. I've been stretching out My hand. I've been making invitations. I've sent prophet after prophet, message after message. I predicted. I sent My Son into the vineyard. They killed Him, like the parable. I've done this. But you can only do this so long.
That would bring up a question in the fact that he quotes this verse. The natural thing to ask is, well then, doesn't that mean God has cast away His people? Disowned them? Rejected them? And that takes us to verse 1 of chapter 11. "I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew."
It's a good answer. Has God cast away His people? Paul says, ask me. He didn't cast me away. I was a rabbi. I persecuted the church. I couldn't stand Christians. And yet I got saved. Explain that one. Intellectually I felt superior to these people, morally superior, religiously superior. I didn't believe in this Jesus. And yet I believe in Jesus now and I follow him wholeheartedly. So if God has cast away His people, explain me. He's exhibit A. God has not cast away His people. It is a good question. Has God cast away the people-- the nation of Israel, the Jewish people? And it's a worthy question because some will answer that, not in the negative, but in the affirmative. Some in the church.
There's a whole spiritual set of interpretations called amillennialism that basically says, God has cast away the people of Israel. And even though the Bible predicts, I believe, a literal millennial period for Jesus to fulfill all the promises He made to the Jewish nation-- where He will rule and reign geocentrically from Jerusalem, rule the world for a thousand years-- amillennialism says that will never happen, because the Jews rejected Jesus Christ nationally, all of the promises that God made to the Jews in the Old Testament are fulfilled in the church spiritually. They're not going to have a literal fulfillment. They have a spiritual fulfillment. There's not going to be a real, literal millennium of a thousand years. There's sort of a spiritual fulfillment of that. And they negate, or cancel out, God's unique plan for the Jewish nation, and all the promises that God made to the Jewish nation. So it's an important question. Has God cast away His people?
The amillennialist-- and by the way, they're everywhere. There's a lot of them. And their brothers in Christ, sisters in Christ. As long as a person believes in Jesus, are saved by grace through faith-- we believe the essential doctrines of the church-- amillennialism, pre-millennialism-- which I believe in-- post-millennial, all of those things-- that shouldn't separate our fellowship from one another. We can debate over it, and I'm happy to do it, up to a point. When a person doesn't want to listen then I'm done. I'll debate but I won't divide over that.
Here's what an amillennialist will say. They say, well, the Millennium isn't a real, literal 1,000 year period. What happened is that Jesus is right now ruling and reigning on the throne, in heaven. So the fulfillment of all those promises, of Jesus ruling on the throne, the throne of David, et cetera, is happening now. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, so He's ruling.
So they say the Millennium isn't a thousand year period, it's just the indiscriminate period between the First Coming and the Second Coming, which means right now is the Millennium. You're in it. I just got to say, based on my understanding and my reading of what is predicted in that kingdom age, if this is the Millennium, I am highly disappointed. If this is it, try again. It's not so awesome. It boils down to how a person interprets scripture.
An amillennial believer interprets the Scripture in a spiritualized way. It doesn't mean that literally, they say. It has a spiritual meaning. Now I don't believe in spiritualizing the text. My hermeneutic, or the way I interpret Scripture, is called a grammatical/historical hermeneutic. I take the grammar and the history, and I approach the text.
An amillennial believer will say, well, so do we. We believe in a grammatical-historical interpretation of the Bible, except when it comes to prophecy. Then we take a spiritualizing hermeneutic. And then my follow-up question immediately is, on what basis? What is your basis for that? Just because it's convenient for you? Because it's an inconsistent hermeneutic.
And then, if it's not literal, you have to tell me what does it mean? And why does the book of Revelation get so heavy in numbers? Seven churches, seven seals, 144,000 seals on their foreheads, 12 gates, et cetera. I mean, why-- the measurements of the New Jerusalem, et cetera-- if you're going to just say it doesn't mean what it says it means, then pray tell, what on earth does it mean? You really have a problem with that.
But there are a lot of people who say God has cast away Israel. And that is the belief-- that is the hermeneutic-- the amillennial position, is the hermeneutic of the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and a few others. I don't believe it's a responsible way to approach the scripture. I think it does great damage to the text. More could be said but time is running out.
So has God cast away His people? I'll just let Paul answer it. No way, Jose. Again, that's the NSV. The New King James says, God forbid, or certainly not-- excuse me-- "For I am also of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." Has God cast away His people whom He foreknew? Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 'Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life'? But what does the divine response say to him? 'I have reserved for Myself 7,000 men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
The point he is making is that, look, the whole nation has turned against Jesus, yet there's a small remnant who do believe like Elijah. Now Elijah was the one who stood on Mount Carmel and had a contest with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings chapter 18. You remember the story, right? He stands out there alone, and there's all these prophets of Baal and Asherah, and he chooses them on in a contest. He says, look, let's get an animal, kill it on my altar, and you do your altar, and let's trust our gods. I'll trust my God, you trust all your pagan fake gods, and whichever God answers by fire and consumes the sacrifice, that's the true and living God. Fair enough? Show on. Let's go.
So they have a contest. The prophets of Baal start first. They pray from morning till evening. They divide their sacrifice on the altar. They dance around. They cut themselves. Elijah taunts them, yell louder, maybe he's on a vacation. He's traveling, he's relieving himself. He's just-- I like his style. He just kind of mocked them, because he realized, your religion? It's just wacky. It's wrong. So instead of saying, well, you know, you have your belief and I have my belief, he says, yeah, your God's fake, and just taunts them. I just kind of like his style.
Then it's his turn. And to rub it in he says, take water and pour it on my sacrifice because water's not going to burn. And just to stack the odds against him, he says, do it again. Do it a third time. And so they did it, and then he utters this simple little prayer-- you know, probably like, God, if You don't show up I'm dead meat--
A simple little prayer-- Lord, just show up. Glorify yourself. And boom, lightning fell, struck it, and consumed it. So he won the contest, killed the prophets of Baal. Then he ran away from Jezebel, way down on the Sinai desert, and he's under a broom tree exhausted, and he says, Lord, it's enough. Just take my life. I just want to die. Look, I've been the only one in Israel. I'm the only guy who stands up for You. I'm the only believer.
God says, Elijah, actually I have 7,000 people just like you who haven't bowed the knee. Now, for Elijah, that's like-- whoa, that's a lot of people-- but when you think of the nation of Israel, God's people, all of them-- there are about a million that lived in the land at that time-- only 7,000 out of that million believed in God, in the covenant. The others did not. So it was a very small remnant, is the point.
"Even so," verse 5-- here's the application-- "Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace." There's always a remnant. Remember that word. A remnant, a small portion. Doesn't matter if most don't believe. Well, you know, most people don't believe that. So? Most people are wrong. I have no problem saying that. I have no problem. I don't care if the majority thinks one way. Majority's wrong. I know we live in a democracy, a republic, majority rule. Good. Majority's wrong.
I'm happy to announce that. This is what John said. Last part of 1 John, "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." They're wrong. They're wrong. Even so, even now-- to this present time-- there's just a remnant-- a small group-- "according to the election of grace."
When Paul would go into a synagogue-- because he went to the Jew first, then the Gentile-- and he would share the gospel-- that Jesus is the Messiah-- usually they kicked him out. But it says, "some believed." Paul lived for the "some believed." When Paul went to Rome and conferred with the Jews, it said, many disbelieved, but some believed. Paul was willing to get beaten up, rejected from town to town, just for the, but some believed. It's always the remnant. And so, today, "there's a remnant--" a small group-- "according to the election of grace."
If you look at the idea of Judaism, there are in the world today about 15 million Jews-- Jewish people-- alive on planet Earth. 15 million. About 350,000 of those 15 million are believers in Jesus. That's a small fraction. If you look at the nation of Israel itself, just Israel-- the state of Israel, modern Israel-- Israel has a population of what? Around 9 million people? 6.5 million, I believe, are Jews. It's estimated that 30,000 of those 6.5 million are Messianic believers-- Jewish believers in Jesus. 30,000. You go, that's not very many. Yet it's a thousand times more than just a few years back.
In 1948, Israel became a modern nation. They were regathered on May 14, 1948. In May 14th of 1948, there were 23 believers in Jesus in Israel. 23. Not 2,300. 23. Now you have 30,000. Yeah, I mean, it's a small fraction, but it's a whole lot more. So God is doing a work. And it's always a remnant, He says.
Verse 6, "And if by grace, then it is no longer works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." In other words, grace and works-- salvation by grace, salvation by works-- are mutually exclusive. It's not like grace plus, because as soon as it's grace plus my baptism, grace plus my faithfulness to the church, grace plus my regular tithing, now I'm adding a work to the grace.
I didn't crawl up on the cross with Jesus and help Him out. I didn't add anything. There was nothing I did on that day. He did it all. That's grace. I just came along one day and heard that that happened and believed that. That's how I'm saved. I didn't do anything to earn it. So grace and works are mutually exclusive. And we say, oh God, I'm going to try harder, I'm going to be a good boy, I'm going to be a good girl, I'm going to show You, and I'm going to earn-- as soon as you start earning stuff, you are insulting God who gave His only Son to show the world, you are hopeless and helpless without My gift. Otherwise it's no longer grace.
Now he says, "What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks--" what is it seeking? Righteousness, or right standing before God-- "has not obtained it"-- because it's a self-righteousness-- "but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were hardened. Just as it is written, 'God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, ears that they should not hear, to this very day.'"
The modern Jewish person-- religious Jew-- is faced with the predicament. You see, the Old Testament requires that animals be brought, on their behalf, in a Tabernacle or in a temple. There is no temple left. In 70 AD, that temple was destroyed by the Roman general Titus. Since then, there's been no temple. Since then, there's been no altar of sacrifice. Since then, there's been no atonement.
So you ask a modern, religious Jew, what do you do with your sin? How do you get that-- I mean, your ancestors brought animals to a temple. Blood was shed, covered it up till the next sacrifice. And then it happened all over again, and all over again. There were daily evening, morning sacrifices. Yearly sacrifice. Passover. What do you do? You have a predicament. If you don't have a temple you don't have a means by which your sins can be carried away. There's no sacrifice.
Now they'll give you an answer, and the answer goes back to verse 3. "Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness--" they'll tell you about, well, you know, every year-- Yom Kippur-- we look back and we think, I hope my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds. It's very similar to Islam. It's all by works. It's all by self-righteousness. But it's a real problem. They have nothing by which to atone for their sin. Of course, there is an atonement. It's in Christ, but they reject Him.
"And David says," verse 9, "'Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.'" He's quoting Psalm 69, a messianic Psalm, that predicts the suffering, in part, of the Messiah, the rejection of the Messiah, and, in part, the death of the Messiah. He selects a very interesting little text out of that. He says, "Let their table become a snare."
The table-- where you spread out to eat, have a feast-- was considered always a place of safety. And so, the idea is, the very thing that they have trusted in is the very thing that condemns them. And what they trust in is their religious observance. But because their religious observances are keeping them from trusting in Christ, their table-- their place of safety-- ensnares them. It's not a safe place to be. It's a very dangerous and precarious place to be.
"'Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always. I say then--" verse 11-- "have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles--" being a Jewish rabbi, yet he turned to the Gentile-- "I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are of my flesh and save some of them."
It's hard for us to grasp, but it's important for us to know, how 2,000 years ago, a very pious, religious, Jewish person-- especially living in Israel-- felt about Gentiles. Want to know how they felt? Listen to a common Jewish prayer prayed, sometimes daily, by a pious Jewish man. Went like this, God, I thank You that I am not a Gentile, or a slave, or a woman. Tells you what they thought about Gentiles. Shows you what they thought about women. That was a common Jewish prayer.
When the Jewish people referred to Gentiles they go under the moniker [SPEAKING HEBREW]. [SPEAKING HEBREW] is Hebrew for the nations. In other words, they are not us. We are the chosen, they are just them. The nations. You got Jews and everybody else. God's chosen and the unchosen. I told you before, when pious Jews would walk down the street-- especially the Pharisees-- they would hold their robes close, lest their robes brush up against a Gentile and they become contaminated by it.
If you want to know how a Jew thought about other nations look at the book of Jonah. Jonah was a pious Jew. God told him to go preach to Nineveh-- that's up in Iraq-- and give them an extension of mercy, but it was actually couched under a very severe sermon of judgment. Jonah was not excited about going to Gentiles. So much so that he went the opposite direction and ran from God. That's what he thought about the job. That's what he thought about Gentiles. They are not worth saving. You have to understand how strongly they felt.
Here's something else. Paul the apostle goes back to Jerusalem. He writes the book of Romans-- those three months-- goes to Jerusalem. He gets arrested. He stands before the Jewish people and gives his testimony-- I was on the Damascus road, I got saved. I was like you guys. I arrested people who called on the name of Jesus. You guys know who I am. And then he said this. When the Lord apprehended me, and called me on the Damascus road, He said to me, go from here. I'm going to send you to the Gentiles. And it says, in the book of Acts, chapter 21, and they listened to him until he spoke that word. What is that word? The G word-- Gentiles. God is going to send me to the Gentiles. It says, at that word they became so incensed they tore their clothes.
They started screaming.
And they threw dirt in the air. Wow. Yeah, they had a zeal, not according to knowledge, ignorant of God's righteousness. That's how they felt about [SPEAKING HEBREW], the Gentiles. "I speak to you Gentiles," verse 13, "inasmuch as I am an apostle of the Gentiles, and I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them."
But now, watch this. "For if they're being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will be their acceptance but life from the dead? For if the first fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, with them become a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, and do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you."
He's going to talk about God's future plan for the Jewish nation. It's an incredible one. It's predicted in the Old Testament. I can't tell you. I don't have time to get into it. We're now closing the study. I'm sorry we have to kind of wind this down, but I'll give you a hint-- a little bit of homework-- to prep you for next week. Go home and read Ezekiel chapter 37, and you will find out what Paul is talking about when he says, hey, if they're being set aside meant awesome things for you, imagine what their restoration's going to be like. And Ezekiel 37 predicts the restoration of the nation of Israel in the last days.
So, with that in mind, we'll close for the evening and pick it up next time. I tried to make it through 11. You know, I try my hardest but I guess I need an hour and a half teaching slot rather than an hour. Then I'd probably do better but--
Let's all stand together. Let's pray together as we stand. Father, thank You for the incredible promise that You have made to the nation that You did indeed choose, the ones that You did indeed give the law-- give the Scriptures-- even though those texts are misinterpreted by the bulk of the Jewish nation to this day and not understood by them. Lord, they are the chosen people, but their chosenness does not guarantee eternal salvation. That only comes through the Jewish Messiah. And any one, Jew or Gentile, can be saved. And Lord, there's always a remnant who does. There's always some who believe.
Lord, You have awakened faith perhaps in others tonight and we pray that those who are joining us via Livestream, or on radio, or here who are being awakened to the idea that faith alone-- "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." In hearing the word of God may come also a desire to be right with You. I pray that that person would just invite Jesus to come inside and be Lord and Master, be Lord and Savior, change their life, give them hope, show them Your plan, in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us from this teaching in our series, expound.