“I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever” (Romans 11:1-10 ESV).
God Will Never Forsake His Promises
God made promises in the Old Testament to Israel. Is he fulfilling them through the gospel of Jesus the Messiah? Paul screams yes! Why? Because our God is a promise-keeping God even as Israel have been promise-breakers. This is the test of our integrity, isn’t it? It’s easy to keep our promises when everyone else is keeping theirs. Business is easier when your associates are truthful and honest. Marriage is easier when your spouse is promise-keeping. Friendship with a promise-keeper is great. But when people are promise-breakers, when people break with us and betray us, that is the real test of our character.
The Old Testament is not a pretty story. It’s basically the story of God promise-keeping and Israel promise-breaking. Just glance at the book of Judges as an example. Seven times Israel is unfaithful and cries out to God for help. Each time God is merciful and sends a judge to deliver them only to see Israel once again betray him.
But what about God? Never, ever one time does he fail to fulfil his promise. This brings us to the New Testament and Jesus and the gospel. Who gets the front row seat for the miraculous life of Jesus? Israel. Who are the first to hear that the kingdom of God has come? Israel. Who does the Holy Spirit fall upon at Pentecost? Israelites. What ethnicity are all the apostles? Jewish. Where does the era of the church begin? Jerusalem. No Israelite could ever accuse God of not fulfilling his promise.
If God was utterly faithful to unfaithful Israel, will he not be faithful to us chosen by grace? We are the people of God as much, if not more than, Israel ever was. We are more spiritually privileged than any Old Testament Jew, even Moses himself. Christian, you know Jesus—his humanity through incarnation, his deity through miracles and resurrection, his redemption through atonement on the cross, his person, his work, his character, his story—far more clearly than any Old Testament Jew. And you know the promises of God with greater clarity and fullness through the New Testament.
God’s faithfulness to his Old Testament promises should greatly encourage us that he will be true to us no matter what!
God Will Never Forsake His People
This is where the concept of remnant is so precious. God is a promise-keeping God who makes promises to real people. Real people like you and me. He doesn’t keep his promises in the theoretical or the abstract, but in the reality of our lives. We can know he will never reject us because his faithfulness and love and glory are forever bound to us. This is true even when it seems that evil is winning on all sides.
So many of the stories we love involve an apparent victory of evil. But wait, there’s a remnant, there’s a small band of faithful people who have not bowed to the evil king. What about those hobbits carrying the ring of power to Mt. Doom? What about those four children mysteriously arriving at the lamppost of Narnia? What about these few resistance fighters hiding from the First Order? What about Robin Hood and his few merry men? We love these stories partially because we see a little remnant surviving in the apparent victory of evil. A little band, a little group, surviving by the power of Aslan.
Christian, you are living that story now. You are a part of the resistance, the remnant, those who are God’s people living by God’s promise trusting God to be a promise-keeping God despite the evil all around and the uncertainties of life. Be encouraged! God always has a remnant through which he is exercising his sovereign grace and fulfilling his sovereign will.
“And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.” (Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, 1529) There you have it. God will never forsake his promises and he will never forsake his people. Will God reject his people? Never! Never! Never!
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2019 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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