Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“1 I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject His people, whom He foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah— how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me’? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8 as it is written: ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.’ 9 And David says: ‘May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.’”
The mysteries of God can be hard for us to wrap our minds around; His Sovereignty is one of those mysteries. Think back to chapter 9 where Paul addressed his concern for his fellow Jews at the same time He affirmed God’s sovereign right to choose to show mercy and punish unbelief. In our passage today, Paul acknowledged that Israel’s rejection of Christ was part of God’s sovereign plan to extend salvation to non-Jewish people—to you and me. To some, it might have looked like Paul was saying God had totally rejected Israel, but that wasn’t the case. Paul insisted that God was not yet finished with Israel as His chosen people.
Paul began by pointing to himself. He was a Hebrew of all Hebrews from the tribe of Benjamin. Before his conversion, he was anything but a follower of Christ.
To further illustrate and strengthen his point, Paul reminded his readers of the story of Elijah. It’s an incredible story. If you get some extra time you should go back and read the story in 1 Kings 18-19. Elijah won a great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. He saw the hand of God move in an undeniable way, a way that someone would think could fill a person with complete confidence. But as soon as word about the failed prophets got back to Jezebel, she was angered and pursued Elijah with the intent to kill him. After killing the other prophets and demolishing the altars, Elijah was scared for his life and fled to the mountains where he hid and complained to God saying, “I am the only one left and they are trying to kill me (1 Kings 19:10, 14).” To Elijah, it looked like all of God’s people had rejected Him, but this wasn’t the case. Paul told us that God’s divine response was to say, “I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18).” Sulking in a cave, Elijah learned that he was not a minority of one. He was not the last prophet in the land. Had he known the whole story, he would have realized that God reserved for Himself a significant number of Israelites that had not fallen into the worship of Baal.
Paul’s point shows us that there has always been a “faithful remnant.” If God saved him, more will be saved. The picture was not as dark and hopeless as Elijah feared. What was true then is true now: God will never leave Himself without a witness. He always has a faithful remnant chosen by Himself as special objects of His grace.
So what’s the application of this passage? What’s the takeaway? For me, it’s trusting in God’s sovereign will. Knowing that through His grace, and not because of my effort, God has freely offered salvation to those who believe.
I can be confident in His will for my life. I don’t have to look at the circumstances and conclude that God is not working; I can be like Elijah and Paul and have confidence that He will do what He has said He will do. He is actively involved in our world, despite what things look like. I can trust Him. I can find comfort in the mysteries of God.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest. Romans 8-16 For You: For reading, for feeding (God’s Word For You – Romans Series Book 2, Keller, Timothy.